A General Approach on Building an Approval Process Workflow

September 16, 2021

You can now build an approval flow with Jotform Approvals! Without any coding, you can turn your online forms into custom automated approval flows. Just drag and drop to add approvers, emails, conditional branches, and more to your approval process.

Note that every approval flow starts with a form. The following user guide will help you create your first web form with JotForm.

How to Create Your First Web Form

Assuming that you are in the form builder, and have readily created the form for your approval flow, go to the Settings and click the Approval Flows tab. 

Clicking the “Create an approval flow” button will redirect you to the approval flow builder. By default, the basic flow is created automatically.
You can also create an Approval Flow through the My Approvals page: https://www.jotform.com/myapprovals
To know more about creating an approval flow, please visit the following user guide or watch our short video below.


The below information is our old method for creating an approval process workflow. We aim to merge this method in our new Jotform Approvals, but in some cases, this may still come in handy. 

Create an approval process in JotForm. 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 want 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:

  1. Customer submits a form.
  2. Manager A receives it via email and reviews the entry.
  3. Manager A confirms and approves it by editing the submission and re-submitting it.
  4. Manager B (or someone else) receives another email after Manager A’s approval.
  5. Customer receives an email whether he’s approved or denied.

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:

  • A hidden field – will serve as the approval status. Our recommendation is to use a drop-down menu. This will simplify the process by only allowing someone to pick from 2 different options – either Approved or Denied.
  • 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 Autorespondertemplates for approved or denied customers.
  • Widgets – you need the Get Form Page URL Widget which will be used in conjunction with Conditions and a Signature Field as a part of the approval process if necessary.
  • Edit Submission Link or Edit 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.

    1076×551 jpeg
    18 kB

    dropdown-form-element

    dropdown-form-element

    Set the Dropdown options as Approved / Denied.

    dropdown-properties
  3. Let’s move on to emails. Set up your Notifications and Autoresponders upon your discretion. If you need different email 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.

    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.

    send-on-edit

    send-on-edit

  4. Add the Edit Submission Link to the Notification template that would be sent to the person in charge of deciding the approval.
    submission-edit-link

    submission-edit-link

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

    smooth-signature-widget

    Next, add the Get Form Page URL Widget.

    get-form-url-widget
  6. Lastly, set up 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.
    1. To send the Autoresponder Template to the customer if he has been approved, add a Change E-Mail Recipientcondition:
      change-email-recipient-approved

      Logic: IFDropdown field IS EQUAL TO “Approved” then SENDApproved Email to respondent.

    2. To send the Autoresponder Template to the customer if he has been denied, add a Change E-Mail Recipientcondition:

      558×234 

      Logic: IFDropdown field IS EQUAL TO “Denied” then SENDDenied Email to respondent.

    3. 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:
      conditional-logic-get-page-url

      Logic: IFGet Page URLCONTAINS 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.
get-page-url-change-email-recipient

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.

 

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