The Importance of (Remembering to Set Up) Alerts in SharePoint

I think I might need to set up an alert to remind me to set up alerts…

I’ve written in the past about the usefulness of SharePoint alerts, and I’ve used alerts to great effect in the past, but here’s the thing: an alert only works if you remember to set one up. I know, pretty obvious, right?

You might think so, but I was embarrassed to discover recently that several items on a tasks list I had created some time ago to assign and track blog posts on SharePoint 2010-related topics had not only been updated but that two of those tasks had been completed. Worse still, the tasks in question had been completed quite some time ago, but I was totally unaware of that fact since I hadn’t been keeping close tabs on the tasks list of late. It’s possible that I might have thought that I’d set up an alert to notify me either when any changes were made to the list, or when modifications were made to existing items, but if I had thought that, I was wrong.

And what was the cost of this oversight? An unpardonable delay in the editing and publication of a pair of excellent blog posts by our Customization Team lead on the subject of branding in SharePoint 2010 – content which had been delivered to me via the attachment feature (which was enabled) of the tasks list in question, a delivery of which I had been completely unaware until recently. All of which could have been avoided if I’d remembered to set up an alert when I created the tasks list in the first place. Argh. Perhaps someone could code a helpful “would you like to create an alert?” prompt that could be added to SharePoint and generated upon one’s having created a new list, document library, etc.? It seems to me that some of us could certainly benefit from such a safety net.  Ahem.

As a refresher, to create an alert in SharePoint, click the drop-down arrow next to your own name in the navigation at the upper right corner of the site, then click the My Settings button. On the resulting User information page, you should see three tabs in the nav: Edit Item, My Regional Settings, and My Alerts. Click the My Alerts tab, and the resulting page will not only show you all of your existing alerts for that site (if any) but will also present you with an Add Alert button, which will allow you to do just that.

(Pause while I go in search of a previous post on how to create an alert to which I can link.)

Aaaaaand, having just come to the realization that I’ve never actually blogged a step-by-step “how-to” entry on creating a new SharePoint alert, I’m going to end this post with a promise to return and do just that within the next few days.

Oh, and if you have an interest in branding in SharePoint 2010 and/or changes in SharePoint Designer with the 2010 release, you’ll (finally!) be able to read the two posts of which I speak on our SharePoint 2010 blog over the next day or two.

Update: The How to Create a New Alert in SharePoint post is now available.

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