Creating Workflows in Visio 2010

Visio has been used by many companies, for a while now, for documenting processes. It has proven to be a great tool for visualizing the flow of a process. Visio Premium 2010 finally lets us create a visual diagram for business processes (workflows). This diagram can then be exported to SharePoint Designer (SPD) where you can put all the logic together. This works the other way around as well. You can create the logic in SPD and export the file to Visio Premium to see it visually. This can help you fine tune some errors or help you notice that the current flow is just not how it should be. You can then change this aspect right within Visio Premium. The drag and drop functionality of Visio still holds true when working with workflow diagrams. This makes this approach similar to how Nintex Workflows work (not as good or easy, but similar).

Now that I have touched on what Visio Premium can do for workflows, let me show you an example of how this works with a OOTB SharePoint 2010 Approval workflow.

This is what the workflow looks like in SharePoint Designer 2010:

wf
Now we just export this out to Visio so we can see it their.
expvis
This will ask you to save a .vwi file. This is the file needed to view the diagram for the workflow within Visio. So, lets go open Visio and take a look.
First you need to start a Microsoft SharePoint Workflow template.
temp

Next you have to import the .vwi file you just created within SharePoint Designer 2010.
impo

And once you navigate to the .vwi file and open it up, you get to see the outcome. *Note I grabbed a simple workflow that does not have much to it (from a basic view standpoint).
visio

Here we are. Shows the start and end point of the workflow as well as the process that the workflow is to run through (in this case an approval process). While this picture is here, you can see on the left hand side, Visio shows all the basic actions you would use in a workflow. All you have to do to add one is drag it over to the drawing board and drop it where you want it to go.

This is all pretty neat if you ask me. If you have someone that is great at laying down visio diagrams, and someone that is great at workflows, you can produce something amazing. There is also an option in SharePoint Designer 2010 to also publish the Visio diagram to SharePoint. This will let users see a graphical depiction of the workflow and where it may currently be sitting waiting for something.
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