Upgrading Your Digital Plumbing

July 9, 2020 Reed Wiedower

SharePoint has often been used by organizations as the “digital plumbing” of a business, dating back over a decade. Tools such as Infopath and Classic Workflows have allowed organizations in their digital transformation infancy to begin automating manual processes, reducing errors and driving efficiencies.

Modern organizations kept this process going and continuously upgrade their back-end systems, transitioning to the cloud in the process, and taking advantage of new capabilities provided by the Power Platform, principally using Power Automate, Power Apps and Microsoft’s new Robotic Process Automation inside of “UI Flows”.

This is great for organizations that kept current. But what about those that started down this journey, and haven’t kept pace?

It’s a timely question: Microsoft announced that they’re finally going to stop supporting SharePoint 2010 Workflows, and that customers need to transition to using the Power Platform. They provided links to tools, which would generate reports, and a single web link to cover this support change.

The critical dates for this transition are:

  • Starting August 1st, 2020, SharePoint 2010 workflows will be turned off for newly created tenants
  • Starting November 1st, 2020, Microsoft will begin to remove the ability to run or create SharePoint 2010 workflows from existing tenants
  • Starting November 1st, 2020, SharePoint 2013 workflows will be turned off for new tenants
  • Not yet determined – when SharePoint 2013 workflows will be turned off for all tenants

That’s an aggressive timeline, for a technology that has been used for a decade. But it’s also true that technologies developed over ten years ago have largely been deprecated.

That speaks to the larger concern: most organizations need a robust internal team that recognizes that these changes won’t end with this announcement. There will always be technology changes coming, and this is where the rough analog to the digital world becomes challenging for users to grasp because of our human nature. We tend to think of things such as a building’s plumbing, or a roof, or interior cabling, as being static. Unlike software, they aren’t going to change overnight, and therefore we see them as “fixed” or “one-time” costs.

The challenge with this mentality is that it is incomplete. Roofs have predicted lifetimes. Network cabling standards change every few years (good luck connecting your laptop’s ethernet port to a BNC connector!), Windows, doors, and yes, plumbing, have to be updated and adjusted over time.

Large organizations have historically budgeted for these capital expenditures; and even apartment buildings reserve funds for expected expenses over the lifetime of a building. When it comes to software, many organizations have (rightly) realized that instead of budgeting for large capital expenditures of boxed software and training, they can move to cloud solutions and transform these to an operational expense. The danger is that some firms may think, incorrectly, that they will never incur these costs moving forward.

Training is a great example of this. As systems update, businesses will continue to need to learn the new functions and best practices on an ongoing basis. Many firms recognize this, but even those that do may miss out on the necessary re-platforming, or ongoing transformational support, required to keep cloud systems in alignment. Platforms like Microsoft 365, Azure and Dynamics 365 are expected to change over the next few years. Much like this change with SharePoint Online, the only way to stay in good shape is to:

  • Budget for a team that will regularly re-evaluate/update systems, or pay expert consultants to do so
  • Be willing to invest training time in aligned efforts

Interested in getting started? Reach out to a New Signature expert today.

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