How to do Workflows in SharePoint: Part 1 – Conditional Starts

Workflows are the lifeblood of organizations. Business processes – and their efficacy – are critical to the successful operation of a team, business or organization. This is why the workflows you use in your collaboration tools should be easy to build, deploy, and use by people of various responsibilities and technical chops. SharePoint workflows should follow suit.

In the first of this three-part series, I will address some common scenarios you may need build into your SharePoint workflow and how to go about building what you need in both SharePoint Designer (still kickin’) and Microsoft Flow (the shiny new object and getting shinier!) Below are simple ways to begin your workflows that need have conditional starts, where certain conditions must be met on a document or item before the workflow can proceed.

SharePoint Designer

  1. Create a new SharePoint 2013 workflow on your library or list.
  2. Set how the workflow starts (created, modified, manually) in the options menu.
  3. In the Logic screen, insert an “If” statement in the first stage. Add another “If” statement right below it to create multiple conditions (something not so obvious in SPD unfortunately). This is where you can select your operator (“and” or “or”).
  4. Pick the fields and pick the values it must meet conditionally.
  5. Complete the If/Then logic you require. Don’t forget to use an “Else” statement to tell SharePoint what to do if the “If” statement isn’t realized, otherwise it will continue to follow through in chronological order. It is also good practice to include a “Log a Message to the Workflow History List” so that any audits done on the workflow for a given list item can be reviewed with more context and see how the workflow followed the logic.
A basic workflows in SharePoint Designer with a conditional start.

Microsoft Flow

  1. Start a new workflow (either from a template or from scratch).
  2. Create a Trigger. Your trigger should be how you want the workflow to begin (on item or document creation, modified, manually, for a selected item, etc.)
  3. Create a Condition action (use Basic mode for one condition, and Advanced Mode or parallel or nested conditions for more conditions).
  4. Add your subsequent workflow steps in sequence.

A basic workflow in Microsoft Flow with conditional start.

Which one is easier? I feelSharePoint Designer is easier on the whole, especially for starts that require multiple conditions (you don’t have to write logic in Advanced Mode or do nested conditions). However, the graphical user interface may be more appealing to some workflow builders. Try both and see what you like!

Next in the series is how to handle Parallel Actions (having more than one action run simultaneously).

Please visit my blog Ion All the Things for helpful information about SharePoint and Office 365!

Published by Andrew Chomik

I'm an Alberta-based tech guy and writer. I do things with Office 365 and help companies and people understand and use technology. I also love pro wrestling, let's just get that out there.

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