How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (2022)

  • How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (1)

In most organizations, there is a business process in the system which aims to store and send document packages. Most of the time, documents are stored in repositories (shared or personal drives) labeled by their name or organized using folders and subfolders. This is usually challenging to connect to when using third-party process management systems.

In this two-part blog series, we’re going to build a document management system which creates an automated email to an external user with documents from a file repository according to the request form submitted by the internal user.

Let’s consider a business case when the HumanResources (HR) department of your organization sends a New Hire Pre-Employment Document Package to a future employee.

When thinking about this process without consideringall possible use cases, it appears very simple. However, there are severalproblems HR departments face when the time comes to manage new hire paperworkpackages.

Summary of process complexity and issues

Document management

There are probably a few different departments in your organization that share documents for new hires. For example:

  • HR: has a generic document setthat needs to be shared before the first day of employment
  • Accounting: shares documentssuch as employee corporate credit card information
  • IT: provides details on how tolog in and register in different online systems

In order to manage the multiple document sets from variousdepartments effectively, it’s important someone implements a document managementprocess.

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Creating document packages

Someone from the HR or Recruitment team has to compile a document package manually. The most time-consuming part here is ensuring that not only the generic document sets are included in the package, but also employee specific (or position specific) documents. You need to make it a focus here to not to miss any important documents.

Sharing documents with external user

A future employee is considered here as anexternal user, this is because the package is sent before their first day ofemployment. Therefore, this means no accounts exist in the domain and they won’thave any training on how to login to internal document management systems orHRIS. So, here we need to send the new hire package externally to a personalemail address.

Below is a diagram demonstrating how this process looks:

How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (2)

Building a system that generates document packagesautomatically

We’ve recognized the pain point here which is that there’s no centric area for internal document management. Here is how we’re going to tackle the problem:

  • Create a document repository tostore and label documents
  • Automate a request process
  • Generate document packages
  • Send documents to a futureemployee (external email address)

In the case study, the business requires a system where the hiring manager submits a form, and everything will be done automatically without human interaction. To do this, we’re going to use Office 365’s powerful SharePoint and Microsoft Flow tools, which enables us to design the business application without development experience.

Creating a document repository to store and labeldocuments

The file repository will fulfill multipleroles in this case. We will need to:

(Video) Create Simple Document Approval Flows using Power Automate & SharePoint

  • Store documents accessibleonline
  • Tag (label) documents forbetter categorization. Since the requirements are to generate packages based onposition (Job Title), we will need to make sure that documents have the correctmetadata
  • Generate an external link (forusers outside of the organization) to be able to download documents

We are going to use the SharePoint documentlibrary to create this repository. You must have administrative rights tocreate a SharePoint library, or you can request document library creationrights from the Site Administrator. You can find detailed instructions on howto create documentlibraries here. I’ve already created a document library called New Hire Document Package. This has twocustom fields which I’ll be using in my business requirements case, one is Document Type, and the other is Links. You can add as many columns asyou want to define your files better, for example ‘location’ or ‘profession’columns. Here, I’ve created two custom fields:

  • Document Type: This is a choice with a drop-down offering multiple options. Your business requirements will dictate document type options. In my case I have General, Information Technology, Sales Engineer and Accountant
How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (3)
  • Links: This column will store the external information (accessible for users outside of your organization) link for the document. Later in this blog post, I will demonstrate how to generate an external link automatically when the document is uploaded. The column type is a hyperlink and a generic SharePoint column type
How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (4)

For more detailson how to create columns in the SharePointlibrary or list, visit this link.

This is how my document library looks like with test data uploaded.

How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (5)

As I previouslymentioned, we will need to automate externallink creation process.

Create a workflow to generate an external link and update thefile’s metadata

Whenever someoneuploads a new document to the New HireDocument Package library, we will generate an external link and update Links filed of that document.

We’re going to accomplish logic explained above using Microsoft Flow. Navigate to Flow designer by going to https://flow.microsoft.com or use the app navigation menu in your Office 365 portal.

(Video) Managing Policies and Procedures in SharePoint

How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (6)

I wouldrecommend using a generic Office 365account that has access to the SharePoint Library and Flow. For example, online.services@yourcompany.com. This is especially useful when designinga workflow which sends an email out users with document links. This way, it’snot coming directly from your email address.

Below is a high-level overview of the workflow demonstrating that when a document is created, we will generate a link and update Links filed in the SharePoint library.

How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (7)

Now we understand this process, let’s get started building the application. When you’ve logged in to the Flow designer, click New and from the drop-down menu, select Automated – from the blank option. In the new flow creation window, name your flow (In my case I named my flow Create External Link). In the Choose your flow trigger field, type SharePoint and select When a file is created (properties only) from the list of triggers.

How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (8)

Ok, in the first step (the trigger), we will have to select the SharePoint library (New Hire Document Package) that we created earlier. This workflow will then recognize when a new file is created or uploaded to the library, it then can specify the URL of the site and select the library from the drop-down.

How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (9)

Click Next Step button and from the Choose an action menu, search for “Create sharing link” action.

How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (10)

There are a fewthings you must specify when configuring this step:

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  • Site address and library name: which is the same library we used in the first step (trigger step)
  • Item id: this is when you select the ID of the item from the previous step. Basically, you are passing the value of the item which triggered the event (new file creation or upload)
  • Link type and Scope: This where we have to specify view or edit link and the scope in our case will be external users
How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (11)

The last step of this workflow is to get the link and update the Links field of the document. Click Next Step and search for Update file properties action. In this action, we will have to select the same document library (New Hire Document Package). This action will also ask for an ID of the item you’re updating which is going to be the ID of Item which triggered the event.

How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (12)

Next, we will have to update the Links field. We are going to pull data from the step where we generated the link. Make sure to select the right step in the dynamic fields screen.

How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (13)

Always payattention to values that you pass from previous to next action. Flow designer showsyou steps and available values in the dynamic content window.

We are done building this workflow. I recommend testing this workflow by uploading a file to the library and making sure that the workflow kicks in and creates an external link. You can always check the workflow run history after you uploaded the file.

How to create an intelligent document management process using SharePoint and Flow - Part One (14)

To recap, wecreated a repository to store and tag our documents; we also designed aworkflow which will automatically generate external anonymous link and update file’smetadata to store the value of the external URL.

In Part 2 of the blog postseries, we will be designing a process to request a document package using aninternal form and generating an email with documents filtered according to therequest form.

(Video) Modern Document Management with Microsoft SharePoint

FAQs

How do I create a SharePoint flow? ›

Create a flow for a list or library
  1. Navigate to a list or library in Microsoft Lists, SharePoint, or to your OneDrive for work or school. ...
  2. At the top of the list, select Integrate > Power Automate > Create a flow. ...
  3. Select a flow template from the right-hand panel.

Can you use SharePoint as a document management system? ›

Document management with SharePoint lets users manage common document types, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and create folders to save and manage those documents in customer engagement apps (Dynamics 365 Sales, Dynamics 365 Customer Service, Dynamics 365 Field Service, Dynamics 365 Marketing, and Dynamics ...

What are three types of SharePoint workflows? ›

There are five commonly used Workflows that can be set up within SharePoint: Approval Workflows, Status Workflows, Notification Workflows, Automation Workflows, and Custom Workflows.

What is a workflow in SharePoint? ›

SharePoint workflows are pre-programmed mini-applications that streamline and automate a wide variety of business processes. Workflows can range from collecting signatures, feedback, or approvals for a plan or document, to tracking the current status of a routine procedure.

How do I create a workflow in SharePoint online? ›

Browse to a list or library where you want to create SharePoint workflow. Select “Library” tab and click “Workflow Settings” on the ribbon. Then select “Add a workflow” from the dropdown menu. You will be redirected to the SharePoint workflow adjustment page.

How do I run a flow list in SharePoint? ›

Run a flow using the Flow Launch Panel

Back in your SharePoint document library, select a document and click on the Flow menu. Then, choose the newly created flow – “Post a message to Teams for a selected item.” Clicking on the flow, opens the Flow Launch Panel.

What is Microsoft flow used for? ›

Microsoft Flow, now called Power Automate, is cloud-based software that allows employees to create and automate workflows and tasks across multiple applications and services without help from developers. Automated workflows are called flows.

Why do we use SharePoint? ›

Organizations use Microsoft SharePoint to create websites. You can use it as a secure place to store, organize, share, and access information from any device. All you need is a web browser, such as Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Firefox. Want to learn more?

Can I use SharePoint to store documents? ›

For example, you can use a document library on a site in SharePoint to store all files related to a specific project or a specific client. Adding files or moving files between folders is as easy as dragging and dropping them from one location to another.

What kind of platform is SharePoint? ›

Microsoft SharePoint is a browser-based collaboration and document management platform from Microsoft - Wikipedia. Microsoft's content management system. It allows groups to set up a centralized, password-protected space for document sharing.

What are the 3 basic components of workflow? ›

Every workflow is composed of three common elements: a trigger, the work (or a series of tasks), and the result. Below, we walk through each of these elements to help you understand and recognize them in your own flow.

How do you automate a workflow in SharePoint? ›

7 Ways to Automate Workflows Using SharePoint
  1. Use Alerts in SharePoint to Improve Processes. ...
  2. Use the Content Approval Feature in SharePoint to Improve Workflows. ...
  3. Use Built-In SharePoint Workflows. ...
  4. Build Workflows Using SharePoint Designer. ...
  5. Use Visual Studio to Build Workflows. ...
  6. Use Microsoft Flow to Build Workflows.
7 Aug 2019

How do I manually create a workflow in SharePoint? ›

Manual triggers

Select an item in a list or library that has at least one workflow. Open the Workflows page (ellipsis >More >Workflows), and, under 'Start a New Workflow', click on the workflow you want to start . Create a button that starts the workflow.

What is an example of a document management system? ›

PDF Readers are the best example of a Document Management System through which you can access the PDF file offline and store it to view and even print and publish it anytime at any place.

What are the 5 basic filing systems? ›

There are 5 methods of filing:
  • Filing by Subject/Category.
  • Filing in Alphabetical order.
  • Filing by Numbers/Numerical order.
  • Filing by Places/Geographical order.
  • Filing by Dates/Chronological order.

What are the stages of the document management system? ›

What Are the Stages of the Document Management Cycle?
  • CREATION. When a document is created, its life cycle begins. ...
  • CLASSIFICATION. After a document has been created, it needs to be properly classified. ...
  • PROPER STORAGE. ...
  • UTILIZATION. ...
  • DESTRUCTION OR ARCHIVAL.

How many types of forms can be created in a SharePoint workflow? ›

Three types of forms are used in SharePoint Foundation workflows: Association and Initialization Forms Association and initialization forms are displayed for users to fill out before any workflow is actually started.

How do I set up a workflow? ›

Steps to Create a Workflow Online:
  1. Identify your resources.
  2. List out the tasks that should be accomplished.
  3. Find out who is accountable for each step and assign roles.
  4. Create a workflow diagram to visualize the process.
  5. Test the workflow you created.
  6. Train your team on the new workflow.
  7. Deploy the new workflow.

How do I create a simple approval workflow in SharePoint? ›

Add an approval action
  1. Select New step.
  2. Type approval into the Choose an action search box.
  3. Select the Start and wait for an approval action.
  4. Configure the Start and wait for an approval card to suit your needs. Note. The Approval type, Title and Assigned To fields are required.
15 Feb 2022

How do I create a SharePoint document approval flow? ›

In the Project Requests list, click or tap Flow, then Create a flow. In the right pane, click or tap Start approval when a new item is added. If you're not already signed in, sign into SharePoint and Outlook, then click or tap Continue. You now see the template for this flow, ready for you to complete.

How do I create a task list in SharePoint? ›

Create a task list in SharePoint in Microsoft 365 or SharePoint 2016 or 2013
  1. From your site's home page, click Settings. and then click Add an app.
  2. Type "Tasks" into the search box and press Enter. ...
  3. Type a name or title for the task and press Create.
  4. SharePoint returns you to the Site contents page.

How do I create a form in SharePoint? ›

New form
  1. Click Add new form.
  2. In the panel on the right, provide a name for your new form.
  3. Click Create.
  4. Microsoft Forms will open in a new tab. See below for steps to create a new form.
  5. When you're done creating your form, go back to your SharePoint in Microsoft 365 page.

How do I create a SharePoint list in Power Automate? ›

In Power Automate, select the Manually triggered Flow, then click on the Next step. Now click on Save and run the flow, you will get JSON code from the body, which will help later to create a SharePoint list. Now we got the JSON code, it's time to create a new SharePoint list with Parse JSON action.

How do you automate a SharePoint list in power? ›

Re: get items from another sharepoint list using power automate. Use the conditional action to check the field NDC has value or not. If it has the value, then use the get item action and pass in the NDC value in the filter query to the Inventory list to get the field value.

What is a SharePoint list name? ›

SharePoint list is a collection of data. A list will have 3 components: item, fields, and views. Items: An item is like a record in a database, like customer information. Fields: List fields are like columns in database or metadata. Fields can be customer name, email address, mobile number, etc.

What do we mean by flow? ›

1 : an act of moving in or as if in a stream a flow of tears a flow of praise. 2 : the rise of the tide the ebb and flow of the tide. 3 : a smooth even movement : stream the flow of conversation a flow of information. 4 : an amount or mass of something moving in a stream blood flow.

What is the difference between workflow and Microsoft Flow? ›

Microsoft Flow application can be used within any Office 365 and can integrate easily with third-party applications. But Dynamics 365 Workflows are tied to the Dynamics CRM platform and are thus usable within CRM applications only. Dynamics Workflows can be configured to enable automation within the Dynamics 365 CRM.

What is Microsoft Flow called now? ›

Microsoft Flow, now rebranded as Power Automate, is a tool that lets users automate tasks and processes within their Office 365 workflow.

How do you create a document repository in SharePoint? ›

Create a library in SharePoint in Microsoft 365 or SharePoint Server 2019
  1. Go to the team site where you want to create a new document library.
  2. On the menu bar, select New, and then select Document library.
  3. Enter a name for the new library.
  4. Select Create.

How is document management system implemented? ›

5 Steps to Successfully Implement a Document Management System
  1. Step 1: Understand the business need and processes. ...
  2. Step 2: Define user types and their authorities. ...
  3. Step 3: Select relevant features only. ...
  4. Step 4: Automate (and simplify) the process. ...
  5. Step 5: Integrate with all software and hardware.
9 Feb 2015

Does Office 365 have document management? ›

Does Microsoft have a Document Management System? Yes, it does. Microsoft Office 365 provides various software solutions including SharePoint, Microsoft Dynamics and OneDrive for document management.

What is meant by document management system? ›

Document management is a system or process used to capture, track and store electronic documents such as PDFs, word processing files and digital images of paper-based content.

How do you create a document center in SharePoint online? ›

To create a new content center: On the Microsoft 365 admin center, go to the SharePoint admin center > Active sites. On the Active Sites page, click Create, and then select Other options. On the Choose a template menu, select Content Center.

How do I create a SharePoint spreadsheet in Excel? ›

Go to the SharePoint Site that you'd like to create a new list for using the Excel Spreadsheet. Click New and choose List. From the Create a list page, choose From Excel. Click Upload file and select the file from your desktop or default site document library.

What is SharePoint best used for? ›

Organizations use Microsoft SharePoint to create websites. You can use it as a secure place to store, organize, share, and access information from any device.

What are the stages of the document management system? ›

What Are the Stages of the Document Management Cycle?
  • CREATION. When a document is created, its life cycle begins. ...
  • CLASSIFICATION. After a document has been created, it needs to be properly classified. ...
  • PROPER STORAGE. ...
  • UTILIZATION. ...
  • DESTRUCTION OR ARCHIVAL.

What is an example of document management? ›

Most Frequently used Document Management System:

PDF Readers are the best example of a Document Management System through which you can access the PDF file offline and store it to view and even print and publish it anytime at any place.

What are the phases of a document management system? ›

The 7 Steps of Document Control:

Collaborate: less email and more control with external users. Track: progress and performance using visual analytics. Deliver: package content sent easily to your client on schedule. Audit: be ready with who sent what to whom and when.

What is the best way to organize SharePoint? ›

Follow these best practices:
  1. Use metadata to tag and find your documents.
  2. Whenever possible, centralize and reuse.
  3. Design a site architecture that accounts for the 5,000 list view threshold.
  4. Don't use SharePoint to replace your relational database.
  5. Assign permissions to groups—never to users directly.
25 Jan 2022

What is the difference between OneDrive and SharePoint? ›

OneDrive provides a consistent, intuitive files experience across all your devices, including web, mobile, and the desktop of your Windows PC or Mac. Behind the scenes, SharePoint in Microsoft 365 provides the content services for all files in Microsoft 365, including files you work with in Teams, Yammer, and Outlook.

How do I follow a folder in SharePoint? ›

Follow a document or file in a site library

Click the ellipsis (…) next to the document and select Follow. If you don't see Follow as a choice, click Advanced and then click Follow.

Which are three functions of a document management system? ›

Business.com claims that there are three main functions of a document management system — to capture, store and distribute documents.

What are document management skills? ›

Required Skills/Abilities:
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite or related software.
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Basic understanding of laws and regulations regarding document management.
  • Excellent analytical and technical skills.

What are three benefits of document management systems? ›

Eight Benefits of Document Management Systems (DMS)
  • Reduces Costs.
  • Improves Workflow.
  • Better Collaboration.
  • Advanced Search.
  • Reduces Storage Space.
  • Easier Retrieval.
  • Enhanced Security.
  • Disaster Recovery.
8 Apr 2022

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