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I'm new to using and setting up workflows in SharePoint so hoping for some direction - hopefully, I make some sense!

My company has a library of documents, such as Procedures, Forms etc on SharePoint Online which need to undergo scheduled reviews, updates, and approvals. At least every 3 years but in some cases more frequently (say every six months).

Currently, the whole process is manually driven - myself or another team member identifies which documents are nearing their review date from a column in an Excel register of the documents we have, and send email notifications with a link or copy of the document to be reviewed to the designated Document Owner. Then we (the Quality Dept) have to follow up if the review goes over the allotted time and then arrange for the document to be approved by the designated Approver before we (Quality Dept) check the document meets the right format and content requirements, add info about revisions, next review date etc to the footer and then upload the new version to the Sharepoint library.

We'd like to try and use workflows in Sharepoint to help automate the process but have not found a great solution with either the Microsoft Flow Templates or the built-in SharePoint Workflows (Eg Approval Workflow, Collect Feedback Workflow). But, as I say, I'm a rank beginner so it's all rather confusing to me!

What I'm hoping to be able to have the workflow do is:

  • When Document is a month away from scheduled review date a workflow is triggered to email notify the Document Owner to review the document. Also, email the Approver and our team for information.
  • If Document Owner confirms document is still relevant and they are the right owner/reviewer the workflow sets a task for them to review the document by the Scheduled Review Date deadline. The Document Owner needs to be able to make changes/comments (with tracked changes on) to the document, but the published version available to other users on SharePoint needs to remain unchanged at this point.
  • More than one reviewer may be required for some documents with several stakeholders so it would be great to have an option for either parallel or serial reviews of the tracked-comment version of the document
  • One the review is complete the Document Approver needs to be sent a notification to view and either approve the document or reject and reset the review task to the reviewer(s). My department should also get a notification that the review task has been completed.
  • If the Document Approver confirms approval the Quality Team needs to get an email notification to go and check and add document control info e.g. next review date to the document
  • Quality Department uploads the final version to the SharePoint Library or approves publication of the marked-up draft/minor version to be viewed by all users
  • Notification of new major version to be emailed to Document Owner/Approver and any other identified stakeholders (e.g. from a list of key users)

-If the Document Owner decides the document is no longer required then there needs to be a way they can mark the document as obsolete. The Approver should then get a notification to confirm this and then the document should be moved to an Archive/made invisible to general users.

-If the review or approval goes over deadline reminder emails should be sent to them and the Quality Department notified.

I've looked into using the "Collect feedback" workflow built into Sharepoint as an option for the review part of the process, but I can't see a way to customize which person is emailed based on a "Document Owner" column in the library. I'm also wondering how to set the collect feedback so that the reviewers can mark up changes but that these won't be visible in the major published version until final approval/go-ahead from the Quality Department. Does anyone have any insight into how that might be done?

I can see that Microsoft flow has some templates for simple email notifications but I'm struggling to see how it can be used to set the review task and get a draft version of the document marked up by the reviewers.

Sorry for the novel here! If anyone has any clues or tips at all about a direction to pursue this it would be much appreciated!

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Just briefly, you need to research 'Information management policy settings' - you'll find this on the Document Library Settings page.You can use these to trigger a workflow (if needed) - I use them to trigger a Disposition workflow (this is an Out Of The Box workflow that comes with Sharepoint).

It works like this: when date x is reached, do this... is reached it will trigger your Policy to run. A Policy can be configured to run a workflow, mine runs a workflow that creates a review task.

The Policy can be set to run on an individual Document Library or per Content Type.

Check out Kim Frehe's excellent blog post. The SP Maven has a good post on this too on his site.

  • Thanks for the links - looks like there's some great content to get me started! – Jess Sep 16 '18 at 22:40
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I have done something similar for Intranet content. The basics is that the relevant content should be a content type that contains the expiry date and owner (both should be mandatory fields ). Once that is in place you can set up a search page that shows those documents that are about to expire. On top of that I added an Azure Function (timer based) that retrieves the relevant content using search, and then emails people and creating tasks and so forth. I hopes this can point you towards a good approach as it is not a trivial task

  • Thanks, Kasper! Yes, It's quite a daunting task but hopefully with these hints it'll help my team make the right start. – Jess Sep 16 '18 at 22:38

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