In this SharePoint workflow tutorial, we will discuss three-state workflow in SharePoint 2010/2013/2016 and an example of a three-state workflow in SharePoint online. We will also discuss how the three-state workflow works in SharePoint? Steps to create a three-state workflow and how to add a three-state workflow to a SharePoint list?
Also, we will discuss what is SharePoint workflow? How to add, attach and trigger a three-state workflow in the SharePoint Online list.
What is SharePoint Workflow?
Workflows can also be used to automate many recurrent tasks that your team performs on a regular basis, ensuring consistency and saving a lot of time and manual tasks.
A SharePoint workflow is basically an automated flowchart that specifies what happens at each step of a process. The approval workflow automatically runs the process for you. It checks, tracks remind and forwards the document to the right people at the right time. If someone forgets to complete a task or doesn’t finish on time, the workflow will notify.
Workflows in SharePoint 2013 allow you to model and automate business processes. These business processes can be as simple as a document approval process with a single approver.
Examples of SharePoint Workflow
In your organization, Employees request laptop which needs approvals from various people like your manager, Finance people or IT departments. By using workflow, we can automate this whole process, where users and approves can get notified and the task can be done without any manual intervention.
We can automate leave request approval process using workflow in SharePoint. When a user applies a leave request, it needs to through various approval process like, it requires approval from a team leader, manager, HR people, etc. We can easily automate leave request management system using SharePoint workflow.
IT Support Ticketing System
Every organization has an IT support ticketing system, and by using Workflow we can automate the whole process in SharePoint online. There are lots of other business scenarios which we can automate using workflow.
Out of box workflows in SharePoint 2010/2013/2016/Online
SharePoint 2010 provides various out of box templates which we can use in SharePoint 2013/2016 or SharePoint online. Below are the 5 different workflow templates available in SharePoint.
- Collect Feedback
- Collect Signatures
- Publishing Approval
There are lots of business scenarios where you need the item or document to go through the various approval process before appearing for the public users. Suppose one HR document needs to be approved by senior HR and HR head before the document available to all the employees.
Approval Workflow will help us to automate these kinds of business scenarios. You can assign the people who you need the document or item to be approved and once the approval process will over, the document or item will be available for other users. Read more: Approval Workflow in SharePoint Online with an example
Collect Feedback Workflow
There will be some scenarios where you need to take feedback or comments from various people for a particular document before publishing for other users. Once the workflow started, SharePoint will initiate the workflow and assign tasks to the people specified in the workflow. Each user can see below 3 options in the collect feedback workflow:
- Send feedback
- Request change
- Reassign task
Read more: SharePoint workflow examples: Collect Feedback Workflow
Collect Signatures Workflow
Collect Signatures workflow routes a Microsoft Office document to designated people for their digital signatures. Collect Signatures workflow functions only with Word documents, Excel workbooks, and InfoPath forms.
SharePoint Collect Signatures workflow route documents created in Excel, Word, or InfoPath to one or more people for their signatures. Collect Signature workflow provides an option to either sign or ignore document from designated people.
Publishing Approval Workflow
Publishing Approval workflow helps you to route documents or list items stored in the document library or list, to one more people for their approval. In a Publishing approval workflow, whenever a task is assigned to a user, it will have the below options are available:
- Approve item
- Reject item
- Request Change in item
- Reassign task
Three State Workflow
We will see in details three state workflow in SharePoint.
What is a Three-State Workflow in SharePoint
The Three-state workflow is designed to track the status of a list item through three states (phases). It can be used to manage business processes that require organizations to track a high volume of issues or items. The three-state can be like Not started, In Progress and Finished.
If the list have more than one choice column and the choice column can have more than three choice values, but the Three-state workflow can only be configured to use one of the choice columns and only three of the values in the selected choice column.
While adding the three state workflow to the list or library, you can select the choice column and the three choices from the column.
How Three-state workflow works in SharePoint?
The three-state workflow supports business processes that require organizations to track the status of an item or document through three states and two transitions between the states.
With each transition between states, the workflow assigns a task to a person and sends that person an email alert about the task. When this task is completed, the workflow updates the status of the item and progresses to the next state.
The Three-state workflow is designed to work with the Issue Tracking list template, but it can be used with any list that contains a Choice column that has three or more values.
Create Three-State Workflow in SharePoint
Here we can create a Three State Workflow in SharePoint Online Site by using these below steps-
Before creating a Three State Workflow, We have to create a List whereas I created a List named as “CompanyWorkflowList“. Then create some column to there in that List. Create one column which will have the choice column as a drop-down.
Because of the name is Three-state workflow, So here we have to give only 3 choice options in that dropdown column. Here I created the dropdown column as “WorkflowState” which is having three choice options as “Active”, “Complete” and “Review”. Now add some item into that list. The list is given below-
How to Add a Three-state Workflow to a SharePoint List
Here I want to attach a Three State Workflow in this List named as “CompanyWorkflowList”. For attaching the Three State Workflow, Go to the “List” which is present at the top of the List. Then go to the “Workflow Settings” which is present in the ribbon, Click on “Workflow Settings” like below screenshot.
In this Workflow Settings, Select the workflow association type whatever you want whereas I selected “This List“. Then click on “Add a Workflow” for adding the Three-state workflow.
Here in this Workflow Settings, In the “Workflow“, Select the Workflow template as “Three-state“. Give a Unique name for this workflow whereas I was giving “3StateWorkflow”. Then in the “Task“, Select the “Task List” where you use with this workflow and if you want to create a new task list then here you can select “New task list”.
In the “History List“, Select a History list whereas I selected “Workflow History”. If you want to create a new history workflow then select the “New history list”.
In the “Start Options“, It specifies how the workflow can be started. Here if you want to start the Workflow as “manually” then select the checkbox as “Allow this workflow to be manually started by an authenticated user with Edit item permissions“. If you require permissions to start the Workflow then select “Require Manage Lists Permissions to start the Workflow“.
Similarly, If you want to start the Workflow as “automatically“, Then select the checkbox as “Creating a New Item will start this workflow“. That means when the new item will be created, then the workflow will start automatically.
If you want to start the workflow while the item will be changing, Then select the checkbox as “Changing an Item will start this workflow“.
Then click on to “Next” as like below screenshot.
In this Workflow Settings, Within the “Approvers“, Enter the names of the people to whom the workflow will assign tasks. You can enter one or more than one number of a user. Then select the “Order” whatever you want whereas I selected “One at a time“.
If you want to assign the Workflow tasks to user one at a time that means serially or one after another, then select “One at a time(serial)“. If you want to assign the Workflow tasks to the user all at once that means parallel, then select “All at once(parallel)“.
In the “Expand Groups“, check the checkbox as “For each group entered, assign a task to every individual member and to each group that it contains“. That means for each group, the task is assigning to every individual member.
In the “Request“, you can type any message which will be sent to the task assigned people.
You can give the Due Date for All Tasks by using the calendar which is present in the “Due Date for All Tasks“.
In “Duration Per Task“, Here give an amount of time till the task is due which can be taken as Units.
“Duration Units” is used for units of the time used by the duration per task. So you can define the Units as “Day(s)”, “Week(s)” and “Month(s)”.
In the “CC”, You can notify the people when the workflow starts and ends without assigning tasks to them.
In “End on First Rejection“, Here if you want to the document will be rejected automatically if it is rejected by any participant then select the checkbox as “Automatically reject the document if it is rejected by any participant“.
In “End on Document Change“, If you want to reject the document automatically if it is changed before the workflow is completed then check the checkbox as “Automatically reject the document if it is changed before the workflow is completed“.
In “Enable Content Approval“, if you want to update the Approval Status after the Workflow is completed then check the checkbox as “Update the approval status after the workflow is completed“.
Then click on to “Save” for saving the Workflow Settings page.
After saving the “Workflow Settings” page, An Email will go to the assigned person whom the task is assigned. Then go to the List which you have already created before whereas I created “CompanyWorkflowList”. In that List, You can see the column as “3StateWorkflow” where your task status is updating. Here you can see in the below screenshot, my item is now “In Progress”.
How to check your Three State Workflow Task Status in a List?
We can check the Three State Workflow Task Status in a List by using below steps-
Here if you want to check the status of a particular item in a List, Then select that particular item. Click on “ITEMS” which is present at the top of the ribbon. Then click on “Workflows“.
Here in this Three State Workflow Customization, Click on the “3StateWorkflow” or “In Progress“. So that we can see the running Workflow Status of that particular Item.
In this “Workflow Status“, Here we can see the task status of that particular item like the below screenshot where there is present of “Three State workflow Task Status” and as well as the status of “Workflow History“.
Now go to the “Site Contents“. In the “Site Contents”, there you can see a new Three State Workflow Task List will be added. Click on that “3StateWorkflowTasks” list. In that list, you can see your assigned tasks as like below screenshot.
Similarly, We can approve the task. Once the task will be approved, then it will go to the next stage which is nothing but a “Completed” stage. Then the task will be completed.
In the above screenshot, you can see both the task has been completed and the workflow status also is Completed. The workflow is completed.
Read some SharePoint workflow tutorials below:
- SharePoint designer workflow: Create Laptop Request Approval Workflow
- SharePoint designer workflow examples : Steps to create a Leave Request SharePoint designer workflow in SharePoint Online
- Deploy sharepoint 2013 designer workflow into production in SharePoint online
- How to Create Workflow History List using PowerShell or using SharePoint Designer 2013
Hence we discussed what is a workflow in SharePoint, what are the different types of Out of box workflows in SharePoint Online. What is a Three-State workflow, how to create and attach a three-state workflow into a List or document library, and as well as how to check the Three-State Workflow Status in a List in SharePoint Online which are mentioned in the above steps?
I am Bijay a Microsoft MVP (8 times – My MVP Profile) in SharePoint and have more than 15 years of expertise in SharePoint Online Office 365, SharePoint subscription edition, and SharePoint 2019/2016/2013. Currently working in my own venture TSInfo Technologies a SharePoint development, consulting, and training company. I also run the popular SharePoint website EnjoySharePoint.com