29 May 2014

SharePoint Recurring Tasks Management

SharePoint logo Let SharePoint create tasks for recurring events! When you have all these events in a SharePoint list you will get a good overview over them, and a combination of two workflows can create a reminder task for the responsible person. In the Tips section we now have a new article that gives a step by step description on how to set up reminders for recurring events in SharePoint.

When I talk about subscriptions I usually refer to the licensing model we use for the Solutions, but in the new Tips article I have looked at subscriptions from another point of view – the view of a company with a lot of different phone subscriptions to handle. I have used these subscriptions as an example on when it is useful to let SharePoint handle recurring tasks.

Renewal reminder
SharePoint logoWhen organizations pay monthly for a Solution the fee is taken automatically from a credit card, but for yearly payments we send a reminder with an invoice in good time before the exipry date. I assume most companies who sell subscriptions do in a similar way, to avoid that customers suddenly find themselves without a valid subscription.

More control
The reminder from the service provider should not be the only way a company keeps track of subscriptions and renewals. Most companies have a method for keeping track of renewals, to get better control over subscriptions and fees. These methods may be more or less elaborate, but ideally the subscriptions should be easy to overview and there should be an automatic reminder when a subscription renewal should be considered.

Custom list and calculation workflow
SharePoint logoIf you want to try my SharePoint method for recurring tasks, you need to create two workflows and set up a timer. The workflows and timer will connect to a SharePoint list that contains the relevant information.

For the subscriptions example I create a custom list with just the title and three more columns: expiry date, renewal date and responsible person. Title, expiry date and responsible have to be set manually for each subscription, but the date for the renewal reminder task is calculated by the first workflow. Should you prefer to set the renewal consideration date manually for each subscription, you can go directly to the second workflow.

Reminder task and timer
SharePoint task iconThe second workflow creates a task for the responsible person that it is time to consider a subscription renewal. To tell SharePoint when to run this workflow I need a timer setting, and this is done via the list control "Information management policy settings" and a retention stage.

Regretfully SharePoint 2013 workflows cannot be started by a retention stage this way, so the second workflow needs to be a SharePoint 2010 workflow. If you so wish, also the first workflow may be a 2010 workflow. I used SharePoint 2013 when I created the demo below, but everything works just as well in SharePoint 2010.

The video is rather long for being a demo, almost seven minutes, but I hope it will be useful and give some insights in how SharePoint workflows can be set up and used.

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions