It's time for another dip into the SharePoint Blank Mailbag. Today's question has to do with a perennial SharePoint topic - alert functionality:
I would like to set up an expiration date alert in SharePoint, and an email that would be sent out automatically. Is it possible?
For example: Expiration data is 31 August 2009. When the calendar reaches 31 July 2009, SharePoint sends an automated message like, "Your policy will expire in one month, kindly prepare to renew."
The good news is that yes, this is indeed possible. The not-so-good news is that it isn't really something that's supported out of the box.
I'm pleased to be able to report that the reason I knew for a fact that this was possible is because Bamboo offers a product that provides the desired functionality. More on that product soon enough, but since I wanted to see if there was a way to accomplish expiration date-based alerts out of the box, or via a free/CodePlex product, I did some investigating. In the process, I turned up a page on WareSeeker.com that at first glance appeared to list some freeware solutions that might get the job done but, as it turned out, none of them actually offered the desired functionality.
I did discover one semi-out-of-the-box solution, but it requires SharePoint Designer (which, in case you hadn't heard, is now available for free). I learned of this solution from a thread on the Microsoft Developer Network in the SharePoint - Workflow forum which explains how, using SharePoint Designer, you can send email alerts before the expiration date on a document. Step-by-step instructions on the process, which is Workflow-based, are available in the linked forum.
If going through the process of installing and configuring SharePoint Designer, then setting up a Workflow with custom columns sounds like a complicated solution to a simple problem, Bamboo is here to help. Our Alert Plus product provides the desired expiration date alert functionality (and a whole lot more), doesn't require SharePoint Designer, and is Task-based for ease-of-use.
Since Alert Plus is Task-based, you'd just need to treat your expiration as the date associated with an expiration "task." There are eight Alert Plus use cases available for your reference in our Online Application Notes, and two of them strike me as being particularly relevant to the subject of expiration date-based alerts:
Note that the second use case referenced above allows for the automation of repeated / escalating reminder alerts in the event you'd like to automate the reminder process beyond a single initial notification. And as mentioned, generating email alerts based on conditional criteria from list fields (such as an expiration date), is just one of many features of Alert Plus. For complete details, please click and read on for a list of features available in Alert Plus.
UPDATE: In recognition of the fact that I should have gone through the process of detailing exactly how to use Alert Plus to generate an expiration date-triggered email alert, I dedicated my next blog entry to doing just that: Using Bamboo Alert Plus to Generate Email Alerts Triggered by an Expiration Date.
Jul 20 2009, 02:55 PM
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John Anderson joined Bamboo Solutions as Manager of Content & Syndication in May of 2008 after a 12-year career at AOL. New to SharePoint at the time of his hiring, John was tasked with creating a new blog for the just-launched Bamboo Nation community in which he would document his daily SharePoint learning process. Thus was born the end user-centric SharePoint Blank, for which John authored 200 posts within a year, and which he continues to write today (albeit much more sporadically). Currently serving as Managing Editor, John sets the tone for Bamboo Nation as its lead blogger, and oversees content across Bamboo properties.