How to create a Google Forms approval workflow

Decisions are rarely made by just one person in an organization, so it’s important to make the process of collecting approvals as efficient as possible. That’s where approval workflows come in. These structured processes outline the steps required to review and approve important decisions and actions within an organization.

In today’s high-tech business environment, approval workflows are best managed through process automation software. Google Forms is a popular survey and form builder that allows users to create custom forms and manage submissions. While it doesn’t offer a dedicated approval tool, users can use the Form Approvals add-on to build Google Forms approval workflows.

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How to create a Google Forms approval workflow

Approval workflows can automate many common business processes, including procurement requests, budget approvals, time-off requests, and even project proposals. Virtually any business process involving a request that requires approval from one or more stakeholders can benefit from approval workflow automation. This type of automation can improve efficiency, reduce errors, and ensure management can make critical decisions in a timely manner.

To create a Google Forms approval workflow, you’ll need to use the basic form builder and an add-on. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open Google Drive.
  2. Click the + New button on the top left of the screen.
  3. Select the Google Forms option to create a new Google Form.
  4. Customize the form to meet your needs, whether it’s for approval of time-off requests, budget proposals, or other requests that require stakeholder review.
  5. Include a field in your form for the approver’s email address. In the example below, this field is labeled Manager Email.
  6. Make this field required by toggling on the Required button.
A screenshot of a Google Form time-off request form, featuring fields for the employee’s name, requested dates, and more, toggling on the Required button
  1. Next, click the three-dot icon at the top right of the screen.
  2. Select Get add-ons from the dropdown menu.
A screenshot of a menu at the top right of Time Off Request form selecting "Get add-ons"
  1. Type “Form Approvals” in the search bar and hit Enter.
A screenshot of the Google Workspace Marketplace menu searching for "Form Approvals"
  1. Select the Form Approvals add-on by and click the Install button.
  2. Click Continue and then Allow to approve the add-on installation.
  3. Return to the Google Form you want to turn into an approval workflow.
  4. Click the Settings tab, then click Responses.
  5. Select the option to enable Collect email addresses and choose either Verified (to prompt users to sign in to Google) or Responder input (to prompt them to manually add their email). The Form Approvals add-on will then automatically generate and send a confirmation email when a user submits a response.
Screenshot of the Settings menu of Google Forms selecting "Verified" in Collect email addresses option
  1. Next, click the new puzzle piece icon in the top menu, select the Form Approvals add-on, and open it.
  2. A new sub-menu will open at the bottom right of the screen. Click the shaded plus-sign icon to choose Add dynamic recipient. This will create a new dropdown menu.
Screenshot of the Settings menu of Google Forms, with the Form Approvals window on the bottom right, clicking on the shaded plus-sign icon
  1. Click the Select question title text and then select the question in the next dropdown that identifies the approver. In this case, you want to route the form to the employee’s manager, so select the Manager Email option from the dropdown menu.
  2. Click Save. Now, whenever someone fills out this form, it will automatically send a message to the email address entered into the Manager Email field to request approval.
A screenshot of the notification email managers will receive when an employee fills out the time-off request form in Google Forms

The manager can approve or decline the request with the click of a button within the email. The person who submitted the form will automatically receive an email notification about the manager’s decision.

Jotform Approvals: A powerful alternative to Google Forms approval workflows

Google Forms is only one of many free online form builders available on the market. Jotform provides even more functionality for users who want to create customized, professional-looking surveys, quizzes, and approval request forms. It’s easy to set up and use — no coding experience required — and it offers more in-depth design customization options than Google Forms and other form builders. It also offers a dedicated tool for automating approvals.

Here’s what sets Jotform apart from Google Forms in terms of approval workflows:

  • Conditional logic: To create simple approval workflows, Jotform users can add conditional logic to the forms they use every day. Jotform’s conditional logic features can trigger notification emails and approval requests that automatically route to the appropriate stakeholders. Responses are recorded in Jotform Tables.
  • Workflow templates: Users can also build approval workflows through Jotform Approvals, which is designed specifically to help users create robust approval workflows. It also offers workflow templates that users can customize to fit their needs, so they don’t have to create workflows from scratch.
  • Group Approvals: This feature allows users to approve or deny requests in the same step, rather than one after another.
  • Multitiered approval workflows: With Jotform Approvals, users can even even build multitiered approval workflows, where managers can escalate their decisions to the appropriate contacts further up in the hierarchy.

Designing efficient approval workflows is critical to streamlining business processes and maintaining a high level of productivity. While you can create Google Forms approval workflows for basic approval processes, they require a lot of manual setup. Jotform Approvals, on the other hand, offers more robust customization and is easier to set up. With its easy-to-use form builder, conditional logic, and integrations with project management tools, Jotform streamlines the approval process for efficiency gains in every department.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

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