26 September 2017

Open Form with SharePoint Workflow

SharePoint iconIn a new workflow article in the Tips section, I describe how the SharePoint Designer Initiate Form command can be used to give end users a simple issue reporting form that feeds into a more advanced tasks list.

Give each group what they need
Helpdesk and support staff often use SharePoint lists to manage the reported issues. In some organizations the end users are asked to create new items in that list as a way of reporting problems, but that is not an optimal process. For proper issue tracking, the helpdesk staff needs to have more information in each item than what is given by the person who has the problem.

A better solution is to give the end users a simple form and let a workflow copy the data entered there into the more detailed item used by the helpdesk people. When the workflow is started manually, which can be done via link or button, the form is displayed and the entered values copied to a new item in the SharePoint list automatically. Then the support staff can take care of it and fill out the rest of the fields.

SharePoint tasks list
SharePoint Designer iconIn the demo below, I create a SharePoint 2013 site workflow in SharePoint Designer and use the "Initiation Form Parameters" command to build a form for the end users. It only has a title field and a description field, so it is very easy for the users to fill out.

Then I can build the workflow so that it feeds the text entered by the end user to the corresponding fields in a SharePoint tasks list that is only used by the helpdesk staff.

' Folder HelpDesk logo If you need a more advanced helpdesk solution, with statistics and a lot of good features, offers two products: Folder HelpDesk for Outlook and HelpDesk OSP for Outlook and SharePoint. Welcome to our website to learn more!HelpDesk for Outlook and SharePoint logotype

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

19 September 2017

Drag Outlook Tasks to Kanban Board

Kanban Task Manager for Outlook logotypeThe Kanban Task Manager Outlook editions will soon have a new feature that many evaluators have asked for: a possibility to drag existing tasks to the kanban board. Next version will also give a possibility to modify Kanban Task Manager by using custom phases and captions.

Drag and drop tasks between phases
Kanban Task Manager uses standard Outlook tasks that have been given some extra dropdowns for tagging. As the work proceeds, the tasks are moved from one phase to another, and this visualization makes it easy to get an overview over progress, overdue tasks and bottlenecks.

In the next version of Kanban Task Manager, the phases can have any name you wish. Five phases with the Outlook status names are default, but soon you will be able to use your own phases instead. In the introduction demo below, you can see the default Kanban Task Manager with our example data.

Group tasks in lanes
The tasks cannot only be grouped in phases but also categorized by lanes. That is convenient when the team has many tasks on the kanban board. The lanes can be collapsed, to avoid excessive scrolling, and the next version of Kanban Task Manager will remember each user's collapse/expand status even when Outlook is restarted.

New user's feature
The feature to drag existing tasks to Kanban Task Manager has been requested by evaluators who already have many Outlook tasks and don't want to copy and paste the content of them one by one to new Kanban Task Manager tasks.

In the next version, these evaluators can just select all their standard Outlook tasks and drag them to the Kanban Task Manager folder. That will make them show up on the kanban board.

Kanban Task Manager comes in two Outlook editions, one for workgroups with shared tasks and settings and one for single users, and we will of course update both on them. I will soon come back with more information..

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

14 September 2017

Team Calendar Options for Excel, Outlook and SharePoint

Most organizations need one or several shared team calendars to keep track of what people are doing and when they are available. We have products for such tracking, but today I will first show a simple Excel calendar that might work for companies who don't want to invest in a more advanced solution.

Excel calendar
Excel iconAn Excel file can be placed in a shared file folder and used as a calendar. Excel has many calendar templates to select from, but you can also create a custom calendar. That is what I show in the demo below, and a new Excel calendar article in the Tips section gives some more information.

SharePoint calendar SharePoint icon
SharePoint team sites have a default team calendar, so if the team shares information via SharePoint, the SharePoint calendar is a good option. It has several useful features, like version history and alerts, but its look is not very appealing.

Excel + SharePoint
If you just want a nice looking calendar that summarizes team member activities, you can insert an Excel calendar in a SharePoint page instead of using the SharePoint calendar. In the demo below, I show how to do that, and of course there is also a Tips article on how to insert an Excel calendar in SharePoint.

Calendar Browser for Outlook or SharePoint
Calendar Browser for SharePoint logoOne of my first products was a calendar solution for Outlook, and it is still sold and used. Today, after 17 years, it is of course much enhanced, and there is also a SharePoint edition. Calendar Browser was created to make it easy to book corporate resources, but the product can also be used to show people's Outlook or SharePoint calendars.

TimeCard for Outlook or SharePoint
TimeCard for Outlook has one more calendar product for Outlook or SharePoint: TimeCard. It is intended for time reporting directly from each user's calendar, but also future appointments/events can be reported.

TimeCard is not a team calendar, but it is a good solution for managers or other staff that need to see future planning for many people. The SharePoint edition even has a TimeCard summary web part that can be inserted into any page in the site collection.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

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.

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.

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.

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 Business Solutions

01 September 2017

Dream Fulfilled for Developer

Today I am happy to introduce a new member of the team: Software Developer Vaibhav Singh Chauhan. Vaibhav has been with us since the beginning of May and proved to be an appreciated and skilled colleague. Here is his own story: Developer Vaibhav Singh ChauhanEr. is a title used by qualified engineers in India, and ever since my early school days I have dreamed of an address plate with "Er.Vaibhav Singh Chauhan" at the entrance of my house.

I was born in a Rajput family in the greenery of the Indian Chambal region, and being a Rajput fills me with feelings of proud, courage, self-sacrifice and patriotism. My grandparents, parents and other close relatives used to tell me bedtime stories of valor and sacrifice and of kings like  Maharana Pratap  and Prithviraj Chauhan. With God’s grace, someday I hope to pass on these Rajput feelings to my own children and grandchildren.    

I come from a family of teachers. Three generations have dedicated their lives to students for the betterment of their future and consecutively played their part for our country. My grandfather was a headmaster and among the very few people who had a Master of Science at that time in Guna, the town where he lived.

My father is a Senior mathematics teacher, and he is the one behind my interest in the math stream that has shaped my engineering dream. I have also been teaching a bit, because in my final school year me and my friend started “Singh’s Classes”, where we gave lessons on “Indian History” and “Reasoning and Quantitative aptitude”.

Some of my friends are surprised to find me reacting calmly in unfavorable situations. For this, credit goes to my mother. She taught me the lessons from the old epic poems Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita that plays an important part in my character.

After my Bachelor's exam and a PG-Diploma in .NET Technology at National Institute of Information Technologies, a campus selection gave me a chance to work with Microsoft .NET Technologies with a Government organization. Here is where my real professional carrier started. Till now I have worked with various Microsoft technologies like C#, MSSQL, Reporting Services, WCF, WPF, MVC, ADO.NET, RAZOR  and non-Microsoft or open source technologies and platforms like HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, jQuery, Bootstrap, WordPress and MY-SQL.

Joining the team exposed me to Outlook add-ins, SharePoint and PowerShell. These were actually alien technologies to me, but gives a healthy learning environment with anytime team support, so now I feel comfortable with those technologies too even if there is much more to learn.
FolderHelpDesk icon                     Kanban TaskManager for SharePoint icon
Up till now I have played my part on our standard products Folder HelpDesk and Kanban Task Manager, and I have also worked on a custom project where we created a journey log system for a helicopter company. I really enjoy the tenor of my work here, and the team spirit is very good. Sometimes we do excursions together, like a trip to the nearby historical place Mandu. team members at Mandu

I am very interested in games, and in my spare time I love to play chess, football, table tennis, badminton and whatever I can. I also like to play and create video games. If you have an Android and like games, I have something to offer for free: I will place all my future games here, and whenever I have spare time I will add some more new games.

My other interests are reading technical blogs and articles and contributing in technical communities like “code project”. I have a blog-website at You are welcome to visit it, and feel free to contact me.

Er.Vaibhav Singh Chauhan
 Software Developer Business Solutions

“Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward”- Bhagavad Gita