I am researching the possible purchase of Sharepoint Online for a small company (1000+ employees). I am not able to find much online about the latest workflow capabilities. Is there more to it beyond the standard 3 workflow types? Can you create custom workflows? How? Can a workflow create files that can be automatically downloaded as text or Excel or csv?

thanks, Ginger


There are actually 5 Built-in workflows, and yes, custom workflows are supported using SharePoint Designer 2013.

Workflow is the same in SharePoint Online as it is in SharePoint Server, except that you don’t need extra deployment to use SharePoint 2013 workflow.

Workflow can be used to create documents, but I don’t think you can automatically download documents with workflow. You might want to consider using OneDrive (for Business) to sync documents on local drive.

In addition, Microsoft Flow is recommended to collaborate with SharePoint Online as a powerful tool.

Please check the links below for more information.

Introduction to SharePoint workflow.

Get started with Power Automate.

Sync SharePoint files with the OneDrive sync app.

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  • Thanks! I have been informed that the version we were looking at buying (Enterprise E5) does not have Sharepoint Designer, but it does have Flow, Forms, PowerApps, PowerBI, and more.. Am I looking at losing functionality? – Ginger Jan 9 at 14:28
  • @Ginger In a way, yes. SharePoint Designer 2013 is in the process of retirement, I guess you can still use it in E5 but might run into potential errors. MS Flow covers almost all what workflows can do. Microsoft is pushing modern driven platforms collaboration and those tools you mentioned work well in modern SharePoint. – Chelsea_MSFT Jan 10 at 1:40

Check out Flow at Flow.microsoft.com (actually, it was recently renamed to "power automate", but that url still works). It's a robust tool with lots of capabilities, but one feature that I like is that Flow isn't tied to SharePoint and can work with a variety of different services. For example, you can create a flow that runs anytime you get a message with an attachment, and the flow could upload that attachment to a SharePoint library. There are plenty of templates to browse though at flow.microsoft.com to get some ideas of what you can do with it.

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