A General Approach on Building an Approval Process Workflow

May 5, 2024

An approval process allows a reviewer to approve or deny a submission, entry, registration, or request. This guide covers a general guideline for building a workflow. Note that an approval flow starts with a form. To get started, create your first web form with Joform.

How to Create an Approval Flow

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

To create an approval flow

  1. In the Form Builder, go to Settings at the top.
  2. Go to Approval Flows on the left.
  3. Select Create an approval flow.
Steps to create an approval flow in Jotform Form Builder

This will open the Jotform Approvals builder with a basic approval flow.

A basic approval flow in Jotform Approvals

Here’s a demo form to try out a basic approval process with Jotform Approvals. To learn more, see How to Create an Approval Flow in Jotform.

The Old Method for Creating an Approval Process Workflow


The information below is the old method for creating an approval workflow. The process is now streamlined and made easy with Jotform Approvals, but the old method may still be useful.

Below are some key features and options that you can use to build an alternative approval process on your own. Here’s a typical use case to give you an idea of how it works:

  1. The 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. The customer gets an email about whether he’s approved or denied.

With the scenario above, one key ingredient is the emails. Regardless of how long the approval process is (e.g. if two 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 or denied.

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

  • A hidden field will serve as the approval status. A dropdown is recommended.
  • Notifications will be used to email 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.
  • Get Form Page URL will be used with conditions and a signature field as a part of the approval process if necessary.
  • The submission’s edit link will be used with conditional logic to trigger an action based on the URL where the form is being filled out.
  • Conditional Logic will be the core of the entire workflow.

To set up the approval flow

  1. In the Form Builder, add a Dropdown element to your form with Approved and Denied options.
An Approval Status dropdown in Jotform Form Builder
  1. Set up your Notifications and Autoresponders at your discretion.
Steps to edit a notification or autoresponder in Jotform Form Builder

These email templates will be used later on with conditional logic. One important feature that needs to be enabled on your autoresponders is the Send on Edit option. Ensure it’s enabled so your form submitters receive the autoresponder upon editing their submission.

Steps to enable an autoresponder's Send Email On option in Jotform Form Builder
  1. Add the submission’s edit link to the email for the reviewers.
Steps to add the edit link in Jotform Form Builder's Autoresponder email
  1. Add a Signature element to your form if your approval process requires an e-signature from your approver. You can also use any of the signature widgets.
The Signature element in Jotform Form Builder
  1. Add a Get Form Page URL widget to your form.
Steps to add Get Form Page URL widget in Jotform Form Builder
  1. Lastly, set up your conditional logic.
A basic approval's conditions in Jotform Form Builder

The conditions highly depend on how you want your approval process to work. Here are some possible scenarios and the needed conditions to make them happen:

  • To send an autoresponder email to the form submitter once approved or denied, use a Change E-Mail Recipient condition. See How to Send Emails Conditionally to learn more.
  • To show the hidden Approval Status and Signature fields once the approver views the entry through the edit submission link, use a Show/Hide Field condition. See How to Show or Hide Fields on Edit URL for more information.

Here’s a demo form to see what it looks like. Since this is a fairly advanced topic, it’s recommended that you’re familiar with how conditions work. To better understand, you can clone the demo form.

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