On July 6th Microsoft announced the deprecation of SharePoint 2010 workflows.
If you are a SharePoint Pro / SharePoint Administrator the terms “Approval” and “Collect Feedback” will be very familiar to you, if you have been doing anything at all with workflows. This was however one of those major legacy pieces of the old SharePoint world that was still available in SharePoint Online.
Of course, this deprecation will only affect SharePoint Online and next SharePoint On-Premise versions (i.e. the full install of SharePoint hosted in your own environment). But if you use SharePoint On-Premise and are still investing time in this technology, now is the time to plan for the future approach to workflows.
The Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF), the original name of this technology, was originally released back in 2006 and evolved until 2012-2013, when Microsoft started shifting its focus to the cloud platform. WWF was very useful to help building long-running, automated processes to integrate in SharePoint, like approvals. Leveraging the .NET framework you could custom build any process really. But, of course, this required development knowledge, time and money (often lots of both time and money).
To make workflows available to everybody, not only developers, Microsoft integrated the WWF technology into one of the main SharePoint customisation tool used back in those days: SharePoint Designer. Designer allowed customisation of pages, forms, add/edit/delete fields, content types, lists… and the option to build workflows using a graphic interface. By adding predefined activities into a workbench, configuring, and connecting them, you could (fairly) easily build a rather complex process without a single line of code.
In parallel, Microsoft released a couple of workflows that came out-of-the-box with every SharePoint implementation, and they have remained there until now. The two best known examples are the Approval workflow and the Collect Feedback workflow. If you go to any of your document libraries or lists, go to Workflow Settings and try to add one, you will find the complete list of SharePoint 2010 workflows still available. If you are wondering what the “SharePoint 2013 workflows” section is about, it is the newest version of the workflows that you could build using SharePoint Designer. They are a bit more powerful, allowing more complex processes, but the engine is pretty much the same.
And now, in 2020 the end of the road has been announced and SharePoint 2010 workflows will be deprecated. This is the roadmap planned for the deprecation of SharePoint 2010 workflows in SharePoint Online:
- August 2020: Turn off for new tenants
- November 2020: Turn off for existing tenants. Some tenants can seek extension of this period, which must be validated by the product and support teams
- February 2021: Complete shutdown of Workflow 2010 service
So now what? What is the plan then if you are using any of these workflows?
The answer is Power Automate. We do not recommend rebuilding your custom workflows using the 2013 version. They are not deprecated yet, but it is likely to happen sooner rather than later.
Instead, Power Automate is the tool Microsoft is encouraging to use to build processes and automated tasks. It is very powerful, does not require to have development knowledge, and it is quite easy to use.
If you need any help, please do get in touch with us to get an assessment with your workflow migration.
Naturally, you can also assess whether you need the workflows to deliver on the same business requirements or whether these requirements should be seen in the light of an overall modernisation and review of your digital workspace strategy. With a different approach to collaborating, searching, tagging, storing and consuming data, many of the common workflow scenarios have become obsolete. Atlas, ClearPeople's digital workspace for Office 365, connects people to knowledge and delivers on many day-to-day business process requirements. If you are interested, you can read more about Atlas here.