SharePoint 2010 Workflow to be Retired

Last Monday, Microsoft announced that SharePoint 2010 workflows will be retired later this year.  SharePoint 2013 workflows will remain supported – for now – but they are being deprecated.

Don’t panic
If you’re currently using SharePoint 2010 or 2013 workflows – or even Nintex workflows – then you have some thinking to do. But don’t panic – there are some clear, straightforward actions you can take to fix this problem.

We’ve been expecting this change for a long time – and helping customers migrate to newer technologies such as Power Automate (formerly known as Flow) and Logic Apps for the last few years.

We even helped one customer replace more than 4000 Nintex workflows last year with Power Automate flows, saving them around $500k over a five year period in potential licensing costs. You don’t have to go down this path – at least not just yet – but do think carefully about your next steps.

‘Starting August 1st, 2020 – SharePoint 2010 workflows will be turned off for any newly created tenants.

Starting November 1st, 2020, Microsoft will remove the ability to run, or create, and or execute SharePoint 2010 workflows from existing tenants.’

Announced on the Microsoft 365 Message Center

Who’s affected?

SharePoint Designer Workflows have long been an important part of business process automation tied in with SharePoint and document management, especially the SharePoint 2010 Review and Approval workflows.

They’re also the technology that sits behind a number of 3rd party workflow products, including most Nintex workflows.

The ‘workflow’ engine of SharePoint provided organisations with a set of pre-developed templates that could be used to automate various business processes, mainly targeted around document management.

SharePoint 2013 Workflows

SharePoint 2013 workflows will also be affected by the announcement. While they will continue to be supported by Microsoft, they will be turned off by default for all new tenants starting from November 1st, 2020.

SharePoint 2013-based workflows will continue to work in existing tenants, but as it’s now a deprecated component, this does mean that Microsoft won’t develop any further software improvements for these workflows, so if you were relying on those pesky workflow engine bugs to be resolved, it’s just not going to happen.

However, Microsoft have stated that security patches will continue should the need arise.

What about my self-hosted versions of SharePoint, will they be affected?

The changes that Microsoft have announced will take effect specifically for SharePoint Online only.

This means, if you are using a self-hosted version of SharePoint such as SharePoint Server 2010 / 2013, these workflows will continue to work, so you don’t have to panic that your workflows will disappear.

However, I believe there’s a chance that this could take effect at some point in the future for SharePoint Server 2019, and an even more likely prediction is the 2010/2013 workflow capabilities and templates won’t be made available in future SharePoint server versions… if there even is one ever released again.

Why the complete removal of SharePoint 2010?
 SharePoint 2010 workflows rely on an archaic underlying technology – ‘Windows Workflow Foundation 3.5’ – which is old and cumbersome, and not built for scalable cloud-based technologies. And with the emergence of Microsoft Power Automate as an entirely new and modern enterprise workflow solution, it just doesn’t make sense for customers to continue to build using the old technology, nor for Microsoft to continue to keep it available and maintained in parallel.

What are my replacement options?

So, what’s the replacement? In my opinion, Microsoft Power Automate (included with all Microsoft 365 licenses) has most certainly surpassed anything offered by SharePoint 2010/2013 workflows – or even other providers’ workflow platforms – today.

We’ve been implementing Power Automate (previously Microsoft Flow) solutions and workflows since late 2016, and immediately since utilising the first set of triggers and actions, it was clear that Power Automate was set to become the new tool of choice for workflow processes, both for IT pros and for ‘citizen developers’.

How do you prepare?

Firstly, you will want to notify your site owners and developers, and potentially your users if you have implemented a model where the citizen developer can create a workflow process.

I’d also recommend running the free SharePoint Modernization Scanner tool across your sites to identify where SharePoint 2010 and 2010 workflows have been used. This will generate a report to help you understand the usage of legacy workflows in your Office 365 tenant and assist you to plan their migration.

When you’ve identified the legacy workflows that reside within your Office 365 tenant, you’ll want to consider whether the workflow is still in use or required going forward. Generally, you can do this by opening the workflow (you’ll need SharePoint Designer installed) and checking what list or library it is connected to. Once you have that information, a simple metric would be to check the last time that data in the workflow-connected list or library was either added to or updated.       

Conclusion

This is a significant change that will have implications for a lot of organisations using SharePoint Designer 2010 and 2013 workflows hosted in SharePoint Online.

If you have any such workflows, or are concerned that you may have, download the free SharePoint Modernization Scanner and carefully evaluate whether you require the legacy workflows. If you do, leverage the capabilities of Power Automate and get started modernising your business processes.

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