Big bomb land from Microsoft in July 2020 about classic SharePoint workflows roadmap.

Microsoft plans to retire all classic SharePoint Designer workflows in a quite short term.

Classic SharePoint Designer workflows are relict of old, on-premise based times. In the past when most of the companies used SharePoint Servers to build internal collaboration spaces SharePoint Workflows 2010 was a crucial part of digital transformation. When collaboration moved to the cloud support for SharePoint workflows was continued At the same time Microsoft introduces  modern process automation solution Power Automate (called Flow in the past.)

A few days ago Microsoft announced that will discontinue support for the workflows created using SharePoint Designer on SharePoint Online. A decision like that was just a matter of time, but no one expects it will happen so fast and with so short timeline.

SharePoint Worfklows 2010 & 2013 retirement timeline

Microsoft announced that the existence of classic SharePoint 2010 Workflows & SharePoint 2013 Workflows will end on SharePoint Online in Office 365. There are no changes for SharePoint Servers hosted on-premise.

SharePoint Designer 2010 workflows retirement timeline:

  • Since August 1st, 2020, SharePoint 2010 workflows will be turned off for newly created tenants.
  • Since November 1st, 2020, Microsoft will begin to remove the ability to run or create SharePoint 2010 workflows from existing tenants.

It means that in the current moment does not have the possibility to execute SharePoint 2010 workflows and since November this year, it will not be possible to continue usage of these workflows on the rest of Office 365 tenants.

SharePoint Designer 2013 workflows retirement plan:

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  • Since November 2020, SharePoint 2013 workflows will be turned off by default for new tenants. Microsoft will provide a PowerShell script to let customers to activate the SharePoint 2013-based workflow engine for the tenant as needed.
  • Based on Todd Klindt post we should expect that the decision will be made about the end of usage of these workflows in Office 365

This change means that sooner or later SharePoint 2013 workflows will be turned off on Office 365.

SharePoint Designer 2013 app support plan:

  • SharePoint 2010 workflow creation with SharePoint Online using SharePoint Designer 2013 will be turned off for any newly created tenants starting August 2020 and existing tenants starting November 2020. SharePoint Designer 2013 will work with SharePoint Server 2019 for the remainder of the client support lifecycle (2026). SharePoint Designer 2013 will not be supported beyond that timeframe.

The SharePoint Designer will be supported only for on-premise SharePoint Servers.

Retirement of the SharePoint classic workflows is a big change for many organizations. Especially that the timeline for this change is just 4 months.  I see this could impact a lot many Office 365 users who moved from an on-premise environment. Personally I expect the timeline will be expended, but the decision is made: SharePoint 2010 & 2013 workflows on Ofice 365 are dead.

👉 You can vote on UserVoice for the delay of the SharePoint workflows retirement process.

 

Why Microsoft has to turn off SharePoint Designer workflows

Microsoft put a lot of investments into Power Automate as a main process automation solution on Office 365. Founding at the same time existence of the really old technology that was developed in the 2009 year is a huge challenge.

SharePoint 2010 workflows probably also impact the quite heavy performance of the SharePoint Online.

Every person who worked with technology knows how problematic it could be. From the perspective of the performance and scalability, classic SharePoint Workflows are killer for the SharePoint. Medium processes developed in SharePoint Designer could heavily impact end-user experience.

 

How retirement of SharePoint workflows could impact you

There are two main areas where you can be impacted by the retirement of the SharePoint 2010 workflows and SharePoint 2013 workflows in Office 365:

  • existence of the classic SharePoint workflows in Office 365
  • migration from on-premise SharePoint Server to SharePoint Online

In both cases, you will need to migrate SharePoint workflows to Power Automate.

 

You are already using SharePoint Online on Office 365

All exiting classic SharePoint Workflows will stop working after the deadline set by Microsoft. Actively used processes will be blocked and business will not continue the work.

Of course, this is scenario will materialize for you only if SharePoint Designer workflows exist on your Office 365 environment. You will need to migrate every actively used workflow until the deadline. This is additional work and cost you need to consider. I believe during migration engagement on the business side will need to recreate the full functionality of existing processes.

You are planning or you are during migration to SharePoint Online on Office 365

Today you are not able to migrate exiting SharePoint 2010 Designer workflows to newly created Office 365 tenant. After the final deadline set by Microsoft, you will not be able to migrate them to any Office 365 environment. Sooner or later It will be also impossible to migrate SharePoint 2013 workflows to Office 365.

Till now migration of classic workflows to Office 365 was possible and requires a very small amount of additional tweaking to make them work. Migration was 1-1 and necessary business engagement was minimal. In the new reality you will not be able to migrate these workflows to Office 365 at all.

You are using third-party workflow solutions, like Nintex Workflows

Retirement of SharePoint workflow will impact or third-party products based on these engines. In general, this kind of solution will stop working at the same time when SharePoint workflows engine will be turned off.

It will impact users of one of the most popular custom workflow platform – Nintex Workflows. Nintex Workflows on SharePoint Online are based on SharePoint 2013 Workflows, so in situations when this engine will be removed Nintex Workflows will stop to work either.

Nintex offers its own workflows SaaS solution Nintex Cloud Workflows, but you will need to plan migration projects to this platform or move to Power Automate.

 

How to migrate SharePoint 2010 & 2013 Designer workflows to Office 365

The only way to migrate the SharePoint Designer workflows to SharePoint Online is a from-scratch implementation of their functionality in Power Automat or an alternative solution. Automated migratory that will parse an existing solution to Power Automate does not exist…

Migration of SharePoint 2010 workflows will require:

  • the nomination of actively used workflows
  • analysis of the functionality behind the processes
  • mapping of the activities between SharePoint workflow and Power Automate flow
  • implementation of the new process, test, etc.

This kind of change became quite a complex project.

Additional resources that could be useful for you:

👉 How to start to learn Power Automate (Flow)

👉 SharePoint Designer workflows feature mapping to Power Automate

How to analyze and scan for classic SharePoint workflows

In case when you are not sure if you are impacted by this change you will need to analyze your environments and scan for SharePoint 2010 workflows or SharePoint 2013 workflows.

All available scanning tool require collaboration with IT team or strong technical knowlege and high-level access rights one scanned environments.

 

Scanning the SharePoint Server for the classic workflows

Microsoft provides for a free extremely complex and detailed pre-migration analysis tool that can scan the existing SharePoint Server farm – SharePoint Migration Assessment Tool. One of the components which scanned during analysis are classic SharePoint workflows.

SMAT generates a high-level number of existing and running workflows. You can also drill down into detailed report that summarizes all necessary information about each SharePoint Designer workflow.

All reports are generated as a CSV files, so you will need to work on them a little.

You need SharePoint Farm admin rights to execute the tools. The execution could impact the performance of the SharePoint so do it at night or during the maintenance window.

👉 SharePoint Migration Assesment Tool documentation

SHAREPOINT MIGRATION ASSESSMENT TOOL

Download complex analysis tool for the scanning process of the on-premise SharePoint Server.

Scanning the SharePoint Online for the classic workflows

Another great tool that will help you to nominate existing SharePoint Designer workflows in SharePoint Online is SharePoint Modernization Scanner. One of the existing features is canning for the classic workflows. Tools could list all classic workflows build on chosen SharePoint Online site collections.

Scanning requires additional preparation steps and can have some impact on the performance of the SharePoint Online sites.

Reports can be generated to CSV file.

👉 SharePoint Modernization Scanner documentation

SHAREPOINT MODERNIZATION SCANNER

Download scanner that can help you to nominate existing classic workflows in SharePoint Online

I hopes shared knowledge will help you to be better prepared for the retirement of the classic SharePoint workflows in the Office 365.