29 March 2019

SharePoint Workflows from Scratch Released

SharePoint Workflows from Scratch cover I am happy to announce that a new book – my seventh! – has been released on Amazon. In SharePoint Workflows from Scratch, I describe how to create workflows in SharePoint Designer, and I also introduce the built-in SharePoint workflows.

Automate SharePoint business processes
All repetitive business processes benefit from being automated. With a workflow, you can make sure that the process is quick and without errors. Once the workflow is created and tested, it will do exactly the same thing each time – without the variations that we humans are prone to invent to make tedious tasks a bit more interesting!

Flow or workflow?
SharePoint iconCreating workflows in SharePoint Designer is the traditional way to automate SharePoint processes, but in 2016, Microsoft introduced a new service for workflow creation: Flow.

Flows can be used with many different apps and services, but they have to be cloud based. When it comes to SharePoint, flows are therefore mostly used with SharePoint Online. I have described Microsoft Flow in my book SharePoint Flows from Scratch.

The traditional workflows, on the other hand, are nearly always restricted to one single SharePoint site. They can, however, be used in both SharePoint Online and SharePoint on-premises.

Build and maintain workflows
Even if workflows have been in use for many years, I saw the need for a "from Scratch" book. SharePoint Designer is badly documented by Microsoft, and the information you can find in blogs and forums often dig down into advanced details. The online information is excellent for those who already know a lot, but it is not very helpful to new SharePoint administrators.

Organizations who use SharePoint Online might want to use Flow for new automation processes, but they probably have a lot of workflows already. Administrators need to understand how to maintain and change them. Furthermore, some processes become more complicated or are not yet possible in Microsoft Flow.

E-book and paperback
Peter Kalmström on Amazon.comSharePoint Workflows from Scratch is available as paperback and Kindle e-book on Amazon. There you can also find my other books about SharePoint, Office 365 and Excel.

Theory, exercises and demos
I believe in learning by doing, but before you can start creating workflows you need to know the basics. Therefore, SharePoint Workflows from Scratch begins with a few explanatory chapters.

After the theory chapters, I give 22 example workflows to practise on or use as templates. For each example workflow I give more theory, so that the readers can expand their understanding beyond the workflow steps.

YouTube iconAnother way to make the learning more varied is to watch my video demonstrations. SharePoint Workflows from Scratch has many links to related articles with video demonstrations in the Tips section.

I have had requests for several new books, for example on PowerApps and Power BI, but before I tackle those I will engage in the sixth edition of SharePoint Online from Scratch. Being an author of IT books means that you constantly have to update your texts!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

14 March 2019

Prioritize SharePoint Tasks in New 7 Habits View

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotype Today we are back with another update of the product, Kanban Task Manager. The two SharePoint editions of Kanban Task Manager have been updated with two new views and a few more features.

Manage tasks in SharePoint
Kanban Task Manager helps a workgroup to cooperate on projects and tasks in SharePoint. Team members can see the work process on a virtual kanban board and drag and drop task cards to different phases as the work proceeds.

Along with visualizing tasks on a kanban board, the software gives various other possibilities to make the work more effective. Kanban Task Manager comes in two SharePoint editions: Sandboxed and Add-in/App.

Suggestions and feedback play major role
For several years Kanban Task Manager has helped many organizations and teams to manage their tasks. We get a lot of positive feedback and suggestions, and this is the reason we update the solution quite often. These suggestions have played a major role in enhancing Kanban Task Manager and making it a powerful product on the market.

7 Habits view
Apart from the kanban view, Kanban Task Manager has several additional views. These views help users get an overview of the tasks based on week, month, year, project, responsible and more.

When there are too many tasks on your to-do list, it might become difficult to know which task you should focus on first. There is often only a small difference between important tasks and urgent tasks. This is a challenge in many organizations who have multiple projects with tight deadlines.

To help subscribers overcome this dilemma, a ‘7 Habits’ view has been added in Kanban Task Manager. The name of this view comes from the renowned book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey. For the third important habit, “Put first things first”, Stephen Covey refers to the Eisenhower principle of ‘Urgent-Important’ Matrix on how to prioritize tasks.

Based on the Eisenhower’s Matrix concept, the ‘7 Habits’ view distributes open tasks into four quadrants according to importance and urgency:
  • Urgent-Important – due today and high priority
  • Urgent-Not Important – due today but not high priority
  • Not Urgent-Important – not due today but high priority
  • Not Urgent-Not Important – not due today and not high priority
When tasks are dragged between the quadrants, the importance and urgency values will be changed automatically.
7 Habits view
‘Hours Open’ feature
For better time management, most organizations want to have an overview of how much time is spent on a specific project or task.

The new ‘Hours Open’ feature calculates the actual time a task was open. I use the word ‘actual’, as you can set your organization’s working day, service hours and lunch break in the Kanban Task Manager settings. Based on these factors, Kanban Task Manager calculates the total hours open for each task and displays it in the task’s details pane on the kanban board.

You can also study the Hours Open in the Excel reports generated by Kanban Task Manager.

Copy and Versions
Two new buttons have been added to the details pane in the updated version of Kanban Task Manager: ‘Copy’ and ‘Versions’.

Now you don’t have to hassle with creating new tasks each time. Instead you can select a task that is similar to the new one and copy it.

When you click on the ‘Versions’ button, you can study the task’s version history.

Free trial and subscription Trial icon If managing multiple tasks and projects is a challenge in your organization, I recommend that you try Kanban Task Manager. You are welcome evaluate the solution for 30 days without any obligations. Our Support team is here to help you, in case you run into any problems during your evaluation period.

All the solutions are licensed with a subscription, and so is Kanban Task Manager. Feel free to contact me or my colleagues at the Sales department, if you have any queries regarding the product subscription.

By Dipti Francis
Executive Assistant Business Solutions

05 March 2019

SharePoint Totals in Both Rows and Columns

SharePoint icon Would you like to see the total of sums or numbers both vertically and horizontally in a SharePoint list? That is possible if you let a flow or workflow calculate the row total and let the SharePoint built-in Totals view show totals for the columns. I have described how to do it in two Tips articles on the website.

The built-in Totals view
The SharePoint ‘Totals’ feature can be used to summarize the values in a column. It can also calculate other values for number columns, like average, maximum and minimum. The result of the calculation is shown on top of the column that is calculated.

The Totals value is however only displayed in the standard mode of the classic interface, not in the Quick Edit mode or in the modern interface. I hope Microsoft will soon add Totals to the modern interface too, because it is a really useful feature.

No totals for calculated columns
If you want to use totals, you cannot use a calculated column, because it is not possible to use the Totals view on a column with calculated values. This means that you cannot get the total for the 'Total Cost' column in the image below, as that is a calculated column that gets its values from calculations of the values in the two other columns.
SharePoint calculated column without Totals

Instead, you can use a currency or number column and let a flow or workflow do the calculation. Then it is possible to use the Totals view, and you will have totals both vertically and horizontally.

Microsoft flow to calculate values in SharePoint lists

Microsoft Flow
Microsoft Flow iconIf you want to let a flow do the calculation, use an expression that calculates the sum of column values for a list item. You can create such an expression by entering the function ‘add’ and then the dynamic content for the columns that should be calculated. Separate the columns with a comma.

SharePoint workflow
SharePoint Designer iconYou can of course also let a workflow calculate column values. First, create a local variable that gets its value from a ‘Do Calculation’ action. Then use this variable in a 'Set Field in Current Item' action to update the column with the totals value for the created or changed list item.

I have created the articles and the demos above for my books on SharePoint automation. SharePoint Flows from Scratch has already been published on Amazon, and I hope to release SharePoint Workflows from Scratch this month.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions