SharePoint can be configured to be a real powerful Document Management System. Usually in a DMS you want to keep track of documents and make sure all your documents are up-to-date. One of the things though SharePoint misses OOTB is a way to send a notification when a certain date passes.
You would think that you could use a workflow for that, but the thing is: Workflows need to be triggered. And regrettably, “when date X passes” isn’t an available trigger.
Information Management Policies to the rescue
IMP’s are typically used in SharePoint to Archive, Move or delete items after a specific date. For example, you could tell the IMP to delete item 2 years after the time-period “Created”. Now instead of deleting or archiving you could also trigger a workflow. So now we have our “When date X passes” trigger.
So what do you need to realise this?
- Make a Document Library with an extra Date Column (eg. “Evaluation date”)
- In SharePoint Designer build a list workflow from this library which only job is to send a notification email
- Check if the Site Policies are turned on in the site collection features
- Use the information management policy on the list to trigger the workflow when the “Evaluation date” has passed.
For more information on creating a policy for a list, library or folder look here:
But hold on…
I hear some of you say, I want to notify people 7 days before the evaluation date has passed. What good is it to notify people after the date has already passed.
Yes. Good question. So, there are a couple of things to think about. Alas, we can’t use the IMP to trigger before a certain date, so no help there.
But what if I make 2 extra columns… one with the evaluation date and one with the notification date? Yes, that will most certainly work. But you don’t want your users to fill out 2 date fields. So how do you populate the ‘notification date’ field automatically?
The easiest solution would be to make the notification date column a calculated field. If you put in a formula like =[evaluation date]-7 the notification date would be filled with the date 7 days before the evaluation date. The problem is, IMP doesn’t recognise calculated Columns.
Workflows to the rescue again
You could use a SharePoint Designer Workflow to fill out the notification date for you. Simply start the workflow everytime an item is modified and let the workflow update the column Notification date with the content of Evaluation date minus 7 days.