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Essential SharePoint 2007, 2nd Edition by Jeff Webb

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Chapter 8. Enabling Email and Workflow

I think people rely on email because it is immediate, centralized, and stores work history. But because email is private, finding the status of an item means sending more email. As the number of work items grows and the need for updates increases, email quickly overflows.

SharePoint addresses these problems by creating Team Sites. Team members can communicate through that site so that all their comments and actions are stored in a central, searchable location. However, that approach is passive. To be effective, Team Sites often need to actively notify members when tasks are assigned, new items are posted, or when other events occur. SharePoint handles those notifications through email alerts and workflows.

Alerts have these advantages over unstructured email:

  • Alerts link to items so changes to their status or history can be viewed by others.

  • Users can turn most alerts on or off and choose how frequently alerts are sent.

  • Site owners can schedule alerts for overdue tasks or cyclical events.

  • Libraries can also receive email to help gather history in a central location.

Workflows are a way of assigning tasks and sending alerts to users in a step-by-step fashion that follows a business process. They go beyond email notifications by:

  • Assigning actionable tasks for a work item.

  • Tracking the progress of a work item through a process.

  • Recording the history of the process, including how long it took.

In this chapter, you will learn how to integrate email with your ...

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