Retirement of SharePoint 2010 workflows: Don’t panic!

On 6 July 2020, Microsoft announced the retirement of SharePoint 2010 Workflows within Office 365. This is part of Microsoft’s drive towards encouraging use of Power Automate, part of the Microsoft Power Platform, which lets you connect Microsoft 365 services together (as well as many popular third-party services).

So what does this mean for people still using SharePoint 2010 workflows? Well, from 1 August 2020, no newly-created tenants will have SharePoint 2010 workflows switched on. So, if you had been planning to move any SharePoint 2010 workflows to a new tenant, as of now that won’t be possible.

Clock ticking on SharePoint 2010 workflows

For those who already have SharePoint 2010 workflows created within an existing tenant, you have until 1 November 2020 to recreate these workflows within Power Automate.

From the start of November, Microsoft will begin to remove the ability to run or create new SharePoint 2010 workflows. This suggests that, while you can’t run the existing workflows, they will still be accessible. Exactly for how long, though, we don’t know.

Depending on the complexity or number of existing SharePoint 2010 workflows you have, upgrading to Power Automate could take much longer than the few months Microsoft has given us before it stops you being able to run 2010 workflows.

If you’re in this situation, you might want to get in touch with a Microsoft partner with Power Platform expertise – like CompanyNet – who can talk through your options and potentially help migrate your workflows to the new platform.

What about SharePoint 2013 Workflows?

For now, SharePoint 2013 workflows remain supported, although deprecated.

Starting from November 2020, SharePoint 2013 workflows will be turned off by default for new tenants. Microsoft will, however, provide a script to let customers activate the 2013 workflow engine for a tenant as needed.

Don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security, though. Bearing in mind what is happening with SharePoint 2010 workflows, you should plan to re-create any 2013 workflows in Power Automate We think it is only a matter of time until Microsoft announces the full retirement of SharePoint 2013 workflows.

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What about On-Premises workflows?

SharePoint 2010 workflows and SharePoint 2013 workflows will continue to be supported for on-premises farms until 2026.

SharePoint 2010 workflows: Don’t panic (too much)

The first step here is to not panic until you know exactly how many workflows you have that will be affected by this announcement.

Microsoft recommends using the SharePoint Modernization Scanner, and in particular the Workflow Report it generates. This report will then allow you to analyse the following:

  • Distribution of legacy workflows across SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 workflows
  • Distribution of out of the box and custom legacy workflow usage
  • Which sites and lists use legacy workflows
  • Power Automate upgradability score indicating how well the detected actions are upgradable to flows with Power Automate

If you have loads of SharePoint 2010 Workflows at this point and they are all business critical, then you can now panic – although keep the panicking brief as you’ve got work to do.

If you find yourself in this situation, we would suggest upvoting this Microsoft UserVoice suggestion, and also contacting Microsoft to see if there is anyway to get additional time. Don’t hold your breath, though, as it’s just as likely Microsoft will continue with this deadline. Perhaps this would be the time to get in touch with a Microsoft Gold Partner (like CompanyNet!) who can help you weigh up your options and potentially save your bacon.

SharePoint 2010 workflows: DIY

So you want to do it yourself? Here’s what you’ll need to do. After identifying how many workflows you need to re-create in Power Automate, you’ll need to prioritise them based on business criticality and on version. SharePoint 2010 Workflows should all be at the top of the list, but SharePoint 2013 workflows need to be on there as well.

Now, in priority order, go through the workflows one-by-one, capturing the exact flow of what they do. If you already have them documented, then you can skip this part.

You can then start to look at re-creating them in Power Automate, one-by-one. There are limitations with Power Automate, and where these are encountered, you will need to be creative. For example, if you require to break item permissions, you could use the SharePoint Rest API and an HTTP action.

You should not underestimate how long this will take, especially if dealing with complex SharePoint workflows. Depending on the number of workflows you have to recreate and their complexity, there may be several more bouts of panic mixed in alongside recreating these workflows. Stick at it, as you have got a deadline! The focus should be on ensuring all business critical SharePoint 2010 workflows are complete by 1 November 2020, with all others being done as soon as possible after this date (including the 2013 ones).

Finally, now that you have got all your workflows re-created in Power Automate you can go trick or treating – that must be the reason for the 1st November deadline. All joking aside, this is a pretty fundamental change with not much notice, especially considering how liked and used SharePoint 2010 workflows were over the SharePoint 2013 Workflow engine.

If you would prefer not to panic, get in touch with the expert team at CompanyNet to find out how we can help.

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