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Sending a reminder that an "Item Update" is required

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Hello all,

 

I'm new to the community and this is my first post, although I have been browsing for a few months now.

 

I am hoping to get some help with a specific issue I am trying to resolve. I've been looking for an answer now for a long time, and I've been unsuccessful.

 

We are Operating Nintex Workflows 2007 in a SharePoint 2007 environment, on which I have implemented a form library with InfoPath 2010 Forms - so I guess in many respects we are dinosaurs!

 

Anyway, I have several workflows which "Send a Notification" and then "Wait for an Item Update". These have been functioning well for over 6 months. However, on occasion, the person responsible forgets to update the item, and therefore the workflow just sits there waiting.

 

I am lookink for a way to send a reminder, approximately every 8 business hours, that the item is still waiting to be updated.

 

I've successfully implemented reminders on "tasks" using "parallel actions" and "Task reminders", but for a number of reasons I cannot use tasks in these circumstances.

 

Over time, I have tried lots of different things including loops, Waits and I have even tried doing a "variable update" to an "Action ID" when the field is updated and running a "Task Reminder" off that - but none of these have worked for me.

 

So - I've given it a red hot go, and now I am looking for some help from the community... please!!!

 

Any help/suggestions anyone can provide, would be greatly appreciated.

 

Eagerly awaiting your response,

 

Robert

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Nintex Newbie

Re: Sending a reminder that an "Item Update" is required

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Robert,

It would be helpful to know why the use of Parallel action would not work in this case, as that would be the typical solution for this.

Another option is to create a separate site workflow that you can run on a scheduled basis.  This workflow would use the Query List action to get a Collection of List IDs for all items that need to be updated.  Then use a For Each action to send a reminder notification for each item.

Hope this helps!

-Tom Castiglia

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Re: Sending a reminder that an "Item Update" is required

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Hello Tom - Thank you for taking the time to respond.

It's my understanding that a parallel action, combined with a task reminder is used when a "request approval" action is used. At that time, an 'Action ID" Workflow variable is defined and the reminder action is tied to that Action ID.

I've been unable to create the association between and "Item Update" and the "Action ID" in the same way that one can with "Request Approval" and therefore I've not worked out how to implement the parallel action.

If you have any suggestions as to how I could get reminders using parallel actions where the task at hand is a "wait for item update" rather than "Request approval", then that is exactly what I am looking for.

Your second suggestion sounds like it will probably work - only thing I am not familiar with how to create a site workflow. Any chance you could please point me in the right direction for that one?

[Edit: I just did some searching and it seems that site workflows are not available to me as we use SharePoint 2007 and Nintex 2007, therefore I assume that the site workflow option is out for us]

Thanks again,

Rob

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Re: Sending a reminder that an "Item Update" is required

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Robert - Sorry - I did not realize site workflows were not available in Nintex 2007.

 

In that case, it still seems like a parallel action could be used in your existing workflow.  As I understand your existing workflow is not using a Task for this, but simply using a Send Notification followed by Wait for Item Update, correct?

 

If so, below shows the general pattern that we have used in this case, with a Parallel action.  The left branch is for your initial notification.  Once the item update is complete, it sets a variable named "StopLoop" to YES.  On the right branch we have a Loop action that will continue while StopLoop is NO.  In the loop it pauses for 8 business hours and then sends the reminder.  Note that this example is based on Nintex 2013.  I'm not sure if the Pause for, Run If and Parallel actions work the same in in Nintex 2007.  (Have you considered upgrading to SharePoint 2013?)

 

-Tom Castiglia

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Re: Sending a reminder that an "Item Update" is required

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Again Tom,


Thanks for taking the time to mock up a suggested solution. It's really REALLY helpful!

In the next few days I will give it a test and report back on how well it works given my specific workflow application.

Rob

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Re: Sending a reminder that an "Item Update" is required

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Hello again -

As I understand your existing workflow is not using a Task for this, but simply using a Send Notification followed by Wait for Item Update, correct?

Yes, that's correct, I'm using a Wait for Item Update.

(Have you considered upgrading to SharePoint 2013?)

Don't get me started!!! I'd love to but it's not in my control!

So I tried your suggestion... and it worked... Technically. I set a reminder for 5 minutes in the test environment and it successfully sent the reminder that the item was still waiting to be actioned.

However, I forgot to mention that these activities are sometimes time critical. The behaviour I am seeing now is that immediately after a reminder is sent, the loop restarts the "Pause" or "Delay For" (in the case of Nintex 2007). That means that another wait period has to elapse before the workflow can successfully move past that branch.

The effect is, that if a user updates the field immediately after receiving their first reminder, the workflow will still wait another full 8 hours before it moves to the next step (as both branches of the parallel action need to be finished).

In turn, this could mean that the workflow will not progress to the next approval stage until the next delay for period has elapsed.

Hopefully I have explained it well... and hopefully you have a solution that could work!.

Thanks again..

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Nintex Newbie

Re: Sending a reminder that an "Item Update" is required

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Robert - Could you put the actions for the next approval stage in the left branch of the parallel action, under the (wait for Item updated) rather than after the parallel action?

Tom Castiglia

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Re: Sending a reminder that an "Item Update" is required

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Good Plan - I will try in the next few days.

Do I need to be worried about how "wide" the workflow gets due to conditions and parallel actions?

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Nintex Newbie

Re: Sending a reminder that an "Item Update" is required

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How many approval steps do you envision (More than 10)?  I don't think you'll need to worry about that.  I have seen some very wide workflows.  Personally, I try to design them to avoid getting to wide if possible, but that is more of a preference.  PS - If you feel my post is a valid solution, please mark it as an answer.

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Nintex Newbie

Re: Sending a reminder that an "Item Update" is required

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Similarly, I created one workflow to run through all of the normal workflow options and then I created a separate workflow for "reminder" emails, which starts only when items are created.

nintex example.png

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