Workflows in Office 365

Workflows have so far been overlooked in this project, so we thought it was time to find out a little more about them and how they can be used. If a Workflow was to be displayed in a graphical form it would look like a flowchart. A work flow follows a series of actions to automate common processes within a business. For example we have looked at a workflow for the process of authorising annual leave. Here the user makes their request through the team site, the workflow is started automatically when the item is added, and the ‘Approver’ is then notified and asked to either approve or reject the request. If the request for annual leave is approved, the requesting user is then sent a confirmation email. If the request for annual leave is not approved then the item is deleted from the list and the requesting user is sent an email explaining this. The great part about designing workflows is that they can be designed in Microsoft Visio, in a graphical form, then exported into SharePoint Designer 2010, which then creates the overall framework for you. All that is required then is to add in the specific parts of the variables, for example who to send the emails to etc. Workflows can greatly improve speed and efficiency with common tasks, and can also save money by cutting out the small tasks that would normally be carried out by people.

Creating the workflow itself was relatively easy, the Visio file was easy imported into SharePoint Designer and the appropriate selections were made for each stage in the workflow’s journey. Unfortunately, every time we uploaded the workflow into SharePoint it would not work what so ever. The workflow is started and the list item (the holiday request) says “In progress”. When viewed, office 365 says that it may be a bit slow due to a large amount of processing, 5 minutes later that message is replace with an error message. We aren’t sure if it is something that we are doing wrong or whether the Workflow we have created just isn’t compatible with Small Business, either way, it’s frustrating.


We have since found out the following, and it appears that some of the functions that we included in the workflow are not supported by the small business version.

The following workflow actions are not supported in Office 365 for small businesses:

Start Document Set Approval Process, Capture a Version of a Document Set, Send Document Set to Repository, Set Content Approval Status of the Document Set, Start Approval Process, Start Feedback Process, Start Custom Task Process, Declare Record, Undeclare Record, Lookup Manager of a User, End Task Process, Set Content Approval Status (as author), Wait for Change in Task Process Item, Set Task Field, Rescind Task, Append Task, Delegate Task, Escalate Task, Forward Task, Insert Task, Reassign Task, Request a Change, Send Task Email.

No workaround is available. To use these SharePoint workflow actions, you must have Office 365 for enterprises.


We have now managed to get the built in workflow, three-state workflow, to work after struggling to get it to function correctly, it just previously kept failing.

Lightening Strike

A recent story that hit the news talked about how the only Amazon server for europe had been knocked out by a lightening strike. Amazon had warned it’s customers that they could be offline for up to 48 hours as they struggled to recover from the power disruption. It took 3 hours to recover from the first of the affected instances, but after 12 hours a quarter still remained offline, with knock on effects slowing their likely recovery time.

In light of this, it is of most importance to have backup plans that can be put in to place should these very unlikely natural disasters occur, or any other disasters for that matter. For instances such as lightening, a simple surge protector can do the job. If back up plans are not made and events such as fire, lightening, rioting, flooding, or power outages occur then business may not be able to trade or function, especially if everything (data) is stored in the cloud.

Further more to this issue, another article talks about how there are seven things in particular.

  1. Read your cloud provider SLA very carefully
  2. Don’t take your providers assurances for granted
  3. Most customers will forgive a company for it’s failings
  4. There are many ways you can supplement and cloud provider’s resilience
  5. Building in extra resilience comes at a cost
  6. Understanding the trade-offs helps you frame what to ask
  7. Lack of transparency may be a companies ‘Achilles Heel’

Microsoft Premier Deployment for Office 365

Microsoft Premier Deployment helps customers to make a safe and efficient transition to the cloud environment. Microsoft offer this service to Enterprise customers who plan to migrate 2,400 or more users. Microsoft offer two services, to either assist with the planning of the migration and then hand over to the organisation to implement the plan for the migration, or customers can opt to work directly with Microsoft’s deployment teams.

Microsoft will identify any issues with the computing environment that may need to be resolved to meet the requirements of Office 365 and provide a proposal to address any other gaps. To date Microsoft Premier Deployment has migrated over 2 million seats of fortune 100 customers to online services, using the standard tools their team uses.

Microsoft will also mitigate any migration and deployment risks with the help of an experienced deployment team, they will also manage your deployment budget by using a fixed price approach.

Quest Software

Quest Software offer a SharePoint migration tool, which can migrate SharePoint 2003 to 2007 and 2007 to 2010.

Quest enables remote migration by offering a web based console that can be accessed from any web browser. It also helps you to easily manage your migration project with the use of, pre-migration assessments, migration job controls, real time progress reporting and scheduling.

Quest will migrate SharePoint sites including content and security settings directly to the new platform. It also enables you to reorganise your site structure during the migration process. Once the migration is complete you can also update any changes to the original sites on the target sites. Quest can even migrate any customisation you may have on your sites including web parts.

Quest also offer a tool that states it can migrate SharePoint 2003 to 2010 directly without the need to migrate to the interim 2007 version. This can be seen in this video “Migrating SharePoint 2003 to 2010“.

More on this can be found at: Quest.


AvePoint is a third party tool that enables the final stage of migration from SharePoint Server 2010 to SharePoint Online and Office 365.

The AvePoint tool offers the following advantages:

  • Seamlessly migrate existing enterprise content from more than 14 legacy systems to SharePoint Online with a single install.
  • Minimize business disruptions caused by the migration or the deployment of change to sites, content, configuration, and solutions by maintaining co-existance of on-premise and online SharePoint deployments.
  • Reduce risks associated with migration from various disparate repositories or managing hybrid SharePoint environments.
  • Simplify testing, course correction and rollback during migration, deployment or publishing processes.
  • Publish content from the on-premise staging farms to the cloud for global scalability and seamless hybrid management.
  • Staged approach for migrating and publishing enterprise content reduces the number of connection paths required, helping to control bandwidth utilization and ensuring all network resources stay fully optimized.

More details can be found at: