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06 September 2017

SharePoint Workflow Actions and Conditions

SharePoint iconThe reason for creating and using a SharePoint workflow is that you want things to happen automatically. Therefore the two main building blocks in all workflows are actions, that decide what should be done, and the conditions for these actions to be taken.

In a new Tips article in my series on SharePoint automation, I outline how actions and conditions are used when SharePoint workflows are created.

Actions
An action is what the workflow should do when it has been triggered, and SharePoint workflows have many different actions to choose from. One very common action is to send an automatic e-mail with specific information.

When you have selected the action, you can specify how and on what data the action should be performed. For the "send e-mail" action, such details are the receiver of the e-mails and the e-mail content. I have given several examples of such workflows in my book SharePoint Online from Scratch and in the accompanying series of Tips articles.


Actions in 2010 and 2013 workflows
SharePoint Designer iconThere are two kinds of SharePoint workflows, 2010 workflows and 2013 workflows, and both can be created in SharePoint Designer 2013. Even if the SharePoint 2013 workflow is default, it is easy to instead select the 2010 type when you start creating a new workflow.

All of the included actions are not the same in the two workflow versions, so it is important that you choose the best option for the process you want to automate. The web service request is an example of an action that only exists in SharePoint 2013 workflows, while all "set permission" actions are among those that are only present in 2010 workflows.

Conditions
An action can be performed each time the workflow is triggered, but usually the action is only performed if a certain condition is true. The condition defines the circumstances under which the action should be performed, and the action will only be performed if the condition is met.

You can, for example, set the condition to a specific value of an item in a SharePoint list, like I do in the demo below. Conditions are almost exactly the same in SharePoint 2010 and 2013 workflows.


Combinations
Actions and conditions can be combined and added to workflows freely. Therefore you can make one workflow perform several actions, and you can limit the action(s) so that not only one but multiple conditions must be true.

I will continue publishing Tips articles about SharePoint workflows, so keep a lookout if you are interested in process automation.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions