Office 2010 can act as the front-end to a full-featured enterprise content management solution using the metadata and workflow capabilities of SharePoint 2010.
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Microsoft Office 2010 In Pictures
Several approval workflows have been built into SharePoint 2010 as pre-installed defaults:
-- Approval, for routing documents to a group of people. Approvals can be requested either in serial or in parallel, with the option to "stage" approvals. For example, approvals #1, #2, and #3 may be required in any order before seeking approval #4, and only then approval #5;
-- Collect Feedback, which works similarly to the Approval workflow, but instead requests comments from any number of people;
-- Collect Signatures, for gathering digital signatures from within Office 2010 documents;
-- Publishing, for documents headed to the web;
-- Three-State, primarily for issue tracking (e.g. "Active," "Ready for Review," "Complete") but reusable for similar applications;
-- Disposition Approval, for bulk deletion of expired or out-of-date content.
In addition to the built-in workflows, developers can create custom workflows either using a point-and-click interface in SharePoint Designer 2010, or a more traditional coding environment in Visual Studio 2010 Workflow Designer.
Some advice for SMBs considering SharePoint 2010:
Get help. While it does provide easily modifiable workflow templates and other out-of-the-box functionality, SharePoint won't optimize your business processes for you. The ECM capabilities within SharePoint 2010 are powerful tools to achieve business process automation, but they're still just tools. Successful deployment requires both detailed knowledge of the existing business processes within your organization and a sophisticated level of understanding of what it would take to improve those processes. Reaching this understanding is, in itself, a major challenge for many SMBs. If the task of architecting an ECM and workflow solution using Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 seems outside of the core competencies of your IT organization, hire someone to help. Also, invest in training so that your internal IT people can maintain and customize a SharePoint environment once it's in production.
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