A General Approach on Building an Approval Process Workflow

Last Update: May 31, 2017

Different companies/businesses will always have their own approval process. Surely, we can't cover all of them so this guide will be leaning more towards discussing general guidelines on how to come up with a workflow that fits your requirements.

First off, what's an approval process? You may already have one in place and wanted to incorporate it with your forms. In layman's terms, this process is just a way to have someone approve (or deny) a submission, entry, or registration.

With JotForm though, all submissions are treated equally and we don't have an innate way to approve or deny a submission. We'd like to showcase some key features and options we have that you can take advantage of, how to utilize them properly, and combine them in order to come up with an approval process on your own.

Here's a typical use case to give you an idea how it works:

- Customer submits a form

- Manager A receives it via email and reviews the entry

- Manager A confirms and approves it by editing the submission and re-submitting it

- Manager B (or someone else) receives another email after Manager A's approval

- Customer can also receive a confirmation email about the approval

With the scenario above, one key ingredient would be emails. Regardless of how long the approval process is (e.g. if 2 or more managers need to check and review the submission), it all boils down to notifying the intended recipient before or after a submission gets approved/denied.

So, in theory, these are all the features you need to make this work:

Email Notifications

Will be used to send emails to managers, staff, or anyone needed in the approval process.

Autoresponders

Will be used to send emails to your customers. You may create different Autoresponder Templates for approved or denied customers.

A hidden field that will serve as the approval status

Our recommendation is to use a Dropdown Menu. This will simplify the process by only allowing someone to pick from 2 different options - Either APPROVED or DENIED.

Widgets (optional)

You may add the Get Form Page URL Widget and use it in conjunction with Conditions. Or if you need to have a Signature Field added as a part of the approval process.

Edit Submission link

Will be used with Conditions to trigger an action based on the URL where the form is being filled out.

Conditions

This will be the core of the entire workflow and there are plenty of reasons why we need conditions, all of which will be discussed later.

So, let's get started:

1. Build your form or if you already have one, use that.

2. Add a DROPDOWN field to your form.

Set the DROPDOWN options as APPROVED / DENIED.

3. Let's move on to emails - Setup your Notifications and Autoresponders upon your discretion. If you need different templates when someone reviews a submission, approves it, denies it, etc, it's all up to you. These templates will then be used later on with your Conditions.

Related guide: How to Edit the Email Template for Notifications and Autoresponders

One important feature that needs to be enabled on your Autoresponders is the SEND ON EDIT option. Ensure that this is enabled so your customers will receive the Autoresponder upon editing their submission.

4. Add the EDIT SUBMISSION LINK to the Notification template that would be sent to the person in charge of deciding the approval.

5. It's time to add the widgets. If your approval process requires an e-signature from the boss/manager who approves the submission then add your preferred Signature Field.

Related guide: How to Add an E-Signature to Your Form

Next, add the Get Form Page URL Widget.

6. Lastly, setup your Conditions. Since this part highly depends on how you want the process to work, we'll lay down some possible scenarios and the needed Conditions to make them happen.

6a. To send the Autoresponder Template to the customer if he has been approved, add a CHANGE E-MAIL RECIPIENT Condition:

Logic: IF Dropdown Field IS EQUAL TO Approved THEN SEND Approved Email to respondent.

6b. To send the Autoresponder Template to the customer if he has been denied, add a CHANGE E-MAIL RECIPIENT Condition:

Logic: IF Dropdown Field IS EQUAL TO Denied THEN SEND Denied Email to respondent.

6c. To show the hidden Dropdown and Signature fields once the Manager views the entry through the EDIT SUBMISSION LINK, add a SHOW / HIDE FIELD Condition:

Logic: IF Get Page URL CONTAINS the word edit THEN SHOW the Dropdown and Signature fields.

This would also cause the DROPDOWN and SIGNATURE fields to be hidden by default, and will only be shown once the form is being viewed from the EDIT SUBMISSION LINK.

And that should be the bare minimum to make this work. Here's the completed form: https://www.jotform.com/70241540895961

To show another variation, the demo form above has the following:

Three (3) Email Notification Templates

These are for the Initial Notification prior to editing, Approved Notification, and Denied Notification after editing the submission

Two (2) Autoresponder Templates

One for an Approved Followup Email and another for a Denied Followup Email both of which triggered after editing the submission

Four (4) Conditions

To show the hidden fields on edit, to send out the Initial Notification on first submission, to send Approved Notification / Autoresponder, to send Denied Notification / Autoresponder

Since this is a fairly advanced topic, it's recommended that you're familiar with how Conditions work. To better understand, we strongly suggest you clone the demo form.

Comments and suggestions are welcome below. If you have a question, post it in our Support Forum so we can assist you.


1 Comment...


   
CityofPalmSprings (July 11, 2017 at 06:42 PM)

thank you this sounds great, will try in the next week or so.


Send Comment