Document approval workflow sharepoint 2010

Document approval workflow sharepoint 2010 DEFAULT

SharePoint Server includes a set of approval workflows that you can use to manage business processes in your organization. These workflows make business processes more efficient by managing and tracking the human tasks involved with a process and then providing a record of that process when it completes. You can use an approval workflow to manage document creation, expense reporting, employee vacations, and more.

To set up the workflows, you simply apply one of them to a list, library, or content type. When doing so, you can change the attributes of the workflow, such as who will approve it, due dates for each task, and the message shown in the workflow. When finished with these settings, you can start using the approval workflow right away. To further customize the workflows, you can edit them directly in SharePoint Designer 2010 or 2013. With SharePoint Designer, you can customize the workflow forms, task outcomes, completion conditions, and every stage of the task process. It’s a powerful way to model an approval workflow for any business process.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the approval workflows that you can use as is or customize in SharePoint Designer 2010 or 2013.

About approval workflows

An approval workflow routes items in a SharePoint site to specified people for approval. It manages and tracks all of the human tasks involved with the process and provides a record of the process when it completes. Approval workflows support any business process that requires sending documents or items to colleagues or managers for approval.

Once an approval workflow is configured for a list or content type, business users can start the workflow at any time (unless the workflow was configured to automatically start when the document is created or changed). They can start the workflow from SharePoint Server or from Office application used to author the document. When they start the workflow, they can choose who to send it to (the approvers), due dates, relevant instructions, and more. When the workflow starts, it automatically assigns a task to the first participant in the workflow. If e-mail alerts are enabled, an email message will be sent to the participants.

If the workflow has multiple participants, it can be sent one at a time (serial) or multiple participants at the same time (parallel), going through every participant until the workflow ends. You specify serial or parallel tasks when setting up or starting the workflow. You can even set up the workflow in stages, with a series of serial tasks and parallel tasks containing different participants.

SharePoint Designer workflows

SharePoint Designer workflows

When participants receive the task email or go to the Tasks list directly, they can view the item or document and then approve, reject, request changes, or reassign it. Participants can work with these tasks directly in SharePoint or from an Office application, like Word, Excel, and Outlook.

While the workflow is running, the participants and owner of the workflow can view where it’s at in the approval process using the Workflow Status page. When the participants complete their tasks, the workflow ends, and the owner is notified that the workflow is complete.

Default approval workflows

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 includes several approval workflows that you can begin using right away to manage human workflows in your organization. Each workflow can be added to a list, library, or content type and then used by your business users to manage the items or documents in the associated lists or libraries.

You can use the workflows to run document approvals, collect feedback, collect signatures, manage publishing of assets, manage dispositions, and create three-state approvals. When you associate and initiate the workflow, you can change the basic behaviors of the workflow, like who approves it, how the tasks are assigned, duration, due dates, workflow messages, and so on. For most of the workflows, you can also customize them in SharePoint Designer 2010 or 2013.

Each workflow is described below, including the main differences between the workflows, and whether they’re supported for customization in SharePoint Designer 2010 or 2013.

Workflow

Description

In SharePoint Designer

Approval

The Approval workflow routes a document or item to a group of people for approval.

It supports staged approvals whereby the first set of approvers can review and approve, then the next set of approvers can review and approve, and so on. Each stage of approvers can do review in serial order (one at a time), parallel order (all at once), and normal serial or parallel task assignments.

The duration and due dates of the task can be specified in days, weeks, and months, as well as a final due date for all of the tasks in the workflow. You can individuals to the CC (carbon copy) field. The workflow can be set up to end when the first approver rejects it. It can end if the document being review is changed. And, the workflow can enable content approval, if you like.

The tasks and emails in the workflow request content approval, so the task form includes buttons for Approve, Reject, Request Change, and Reassign. For approvers, comments support a consolidated comment that shows the entire list of previous approvers’ comments. Approval workflows can also be used to set content approval status at the end.

The Approval workflow is by default associated with the Document content type so it is available to document libraries.

NOTE: This workflow is only available in SharePoint Server.

Yes

Collect Feedback

The Collect Feedback workflow is very similar to the Approval workflow. It routes items or documents to a group of people, but in this case, the workflow is designed to get feedback from the approvers. The feedback is compiled and sent back to the person who initiated the workflow.

Like the Approval workflow, this workflow supports staged approvals and lets you specify duration and due dates in days, weeks, and months, as well as the final due date. The workflow can also be set up to end if the document is changed, and you can add individuals to the CC (carbon copy) field.

Unlike the Approval workflow, there is no option to end the workflow on first rejection since that doesn’t apply here, and there is no option to enable content approval.

Since the tasks and emails in the workflow request content approval, the task form includes buttons for Send Feedback, Request Change, and Reassign.

The Collect Feedback workflow is associated with the Document content type so it is available in document libraries.

NOTE: This workflow is only available in SharePoint Server.

Yes

Collect Signatures

The Collect Signatures workflow routes documents created in a Microsoft application to a group of people to collect their digital signatures.

You can add signers in serial or parallel order, and you can add them in stages. You can also add individuals to the CC (carbon copy) field. There are no other fields or behaviors for this workflow (unlike the Approval and Collect Feedback workflows).

When the signers of the workflow receive the task, they can sign it from the Task list in SharePoint or from within the host document, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

The task form includes buttons for Sign or Reassign the task only. The signing mechanism uses the Microsoft Office Signature Line control. The signature image can be provided by the user or applied automatically using logic in the form (specifically, rule and action in the InfoPath form).

The Collect Signatures workflow is associated with the Document content type so it is available in document libraries However, the workflow will only appear in the library if that document contains one or more Microsoft Office Signature Lines.

NOTE: This workflow is only available in SharePoint Server.

Yes

Publishing

The Publishing workflow routes content for approval in the same the Approval workflow does this except that it’s designed for Enterprise Content Management sites with publishing features enabled.

Another difference is in the workflow forms. The association and initiation forms hide the option to add approvers, end workflow on first rejection, end workflow if document changes, and enable content approval.

NOTE: The Publishing workflow is only available in SharePoint Server where the Publishing feature is enabled.

Yes

Three-state

The Three-state workflow tracks the status of an issue or item through three states and two transitions between the states, which help track high volume issues.

The workflow is designed to work with the Issue Tracking list template but can be used with any list that has a Choice column with three or more values that serve as the state of the workflow.

Participants in the workflow may be working with the list directly or outside projects related to the list. The workflow updates the status of the list and creates a new task for the next participant, and this process continues.

Workflow participants can change the complete their task or change the status of the workflow item.

NOTE: This workflow is available in both SharePoint Foundation 2010 and SharePoint Server.

No

Disposition Approval

The Disposition Approval workflow tracks content that has expired or is out-of-date and needs to be evaluated or deleted.

This workflow is especially useful on a Records Center site or a site that supports records management document retention policies. The workflow can be configured to start automatically when documents or items expire or started manually by participants.

The workflow uses Disposition Approval workflow tasks for specific documents and items in the tasks list rather than assigning them to specific participants. Only those who have permissions to this tasks list can complete the task by approving or rejecting items for deletion.

The workflow also includes bulk task completion so that individuals can process large numbers of items for deletion in one step. This is commonly needed because of the high volume of tasks generated by the workflow.

NOTE: This workflow is only available in SharePoint Server.

No

Using the workflows in SharePoint Server

To use the workflows in SharePoint Server, you first add the workflow to a list, library, or content type. Once you do that, the workflow is available to users of the list or library - whether you associated the workflow with them directly or associated the workflow with a content type used by the list or library. When associating a workflow with a content type, you can associate it with a site content type or list content type (an instance of a site content type that was added to a specific list or library). Site content types are beneficial in that the workflow becomes widely available across lists or libraries in a site collection for items of a specific content type.

If you have Manage Lists permissions, you have the option to add a workflow to a list, library, or content type. Follow the steps below set up the initial workflow.

  1. Browse to the list or library where you want to add the workflow.

  2. Click the List tab if it’s a list, or the Library tab if it’s a library.

  3. In the Settings group, click Workflow Settings.

  4. On the Workflow Settings page, click Add a workflow.

  1. Browse to the list or library containing an instance of the list content type you want to modify.

  2. Click the List tab if it’s a list, or the Library tab if it’s a library.

  3. Click List Settings if it’s a list or Library Settings if it’s a library.

  4. Under Content Types, click the name of the content type you want to associate the workflow with.
    If you don’t see Content Types on the page, you may need to choose Advanced Settings and then Allow management of content types.

  5. Under Settings, choose Workflow settings.

  6. Click Add a workflow.

  1. From the home page for the site collection, choose Site Actions and then Site Settings.

  2. Under Galleries, click Site content types.

  3. Click the name of the site content type you want to add or associate the workflow with.

  4. Click Workflow Settings.

  5. On the Workflow Settings page, click Add a workflow.

Performing any of the steps above brings you to the Add a Workflow page where you choose the type of workflow, name of workflow, task list to use, etc.

SharePoint Designer workflows

On this page, you can configure the following workflow settings:

  • Choose a workflow template, like Approval, Collect Feedback, and Collect Signatures.

  • Specify a name for the workflow.

  • Specify the Task list to use for the tasks in this workflow.

  • Specify the History list to use for this workflow.

  • Allow the workflow to be manually started by users.

  • Require the Manage Lists Permissions to start the workflow.

  • Start the workflow to approve publishing a major version of an item.

  • Start the workflow when a new item is created.

  • Start the workflow when an item is changed.

The next page shows the workflow behaviors that you can change, like the approvers, workflow message, and due dates. The values you choose become the default values when users start the workflow – in other words, you fill out the association form exactly once, when you add the workflow to a list, library, or content type, and those values are used in all subsequent instances of the workflow.

The association form is different for each of the workflows included with SharePoint. This is what you see when associating Approval workflows.

SharePoint Designer workflows

On this page, you can specify the following workflow behaviors:

  • Approvers for the workflow.

  • Order of approvers: serial or parallel

  • Stages of approval.

  • Expand groups by assigning tasks to every member of the group.

  • Request message that appears in the workflow.

  • Due date for all tasks.

  • Duration per task.

  • Duration units: days, weeks, or months.

  • CC, who to carbon copy the assigned tasks.

  • End the workflow on first rejection.

  • End the workflow if the document changes.

  • Enable content approval by updating the approval status when the workflow completes.

Once the workflow has been associated with a list, library, or content type, you and others are ready to start using the workflow. If you chose to start the workflow when items are created or changed (on the Add a Workflow page), users won’t see a difference or even know a workflow has started when creating and updating documents or list items on the site. When these options are not selected, users start the workflow on their own, manually.

They do this by choosing the Workflows option from within the Office 2010 application used to create the document, or they can choose the Workflows options from the list or library where the item is stored, such as the pull-down menu beside the list item.

SharePoint Designer workflows

Clicking here, takes the user to the Start a New Workflow page, which shows the available workflows that can be started plus the status of other workflows that are running and have completed.

SharePoint Designer workflows

Lastly, they see the workflow initiation form where they can specify the core behaviors of the workflow. In contrast with the association form, which is completed exactly once when the workflow is first added to a list, library, or content type, the initiation form is completed once each time the workflow is started manually – so each instance of the workflow can use different initiation form values, but they all use the same association form values.

The form is different for each of the workflows included with SharePoint, and default values will appear in the form if they were added to the association form (as described earlier). The Approval workflow initiation form, without any default values, looks like this.

SharePoint Designer workflows

The person starting the workflow can add new values or leave the defaults and then choose Start. This creates a task and assigns it to the first approver listed.

For the approvers listed in the workflow, they receive a task assigned to them, and they receive an email notification. They can approve or reject the task directly from within certain Office 2010 applications, like Outlook – or they can go directly to the Tasks list, where they will see the new task assigned to them.

When they open the task, they see the task form that they can use to approve, reject, request a change, or reassign the task. The task form for the Approval workflow looks like this.

SharePoint Designer workflows

Depending on the approver’s actions, the task might be assigned to the next approver, sent back to the author with requested changes, or approved, which completes the workflow.

Editing the workflows in SharePoint Designer 2010 or 2013

When setting up workflows in SharePoint, you can change some of the basic behaviors, like who the approvers are, due dates for tasks, and the messages in the workflow. This is a useful way to quickly get started with the approval workflows and for the most part, they address many common business process needs.

In addition to using the workflows this way, you can open many of the workflows in SharePoint Designer 2010 or 2013 and completely customize the appearance, behavior, and results of the workflow. You can customize the forms that users see, completion conditions, and every stage of the tasks and task processes in the workflow.

In the following table you see a comparison of the types of customization you can do in the browser with the types of customization you can do in SharePoint Designer2010. This based is based on the approval workflow in SharePoint Server 2010.

Workflow customization in SharePoint

Workflow customization in SharePoint Designer

  • Specify the workflow name

  • Specify the associated Task list and History list

  • Allow the workflow to start automatically when new items are created

  • Allow the workflow to start automatically when items are changed

  • Allow the workflow to be manually started and optionally, require Manage Lists Permissions

  • Make the workflow approve publishing a major version of an item

  • Specify the approvers for the workflow

  • Specify the order of approval: serial or parallel

  • Add approval stages

  • Expand groups and assign tasks to each member

  • Specify the message in the workflow

  • Specify due date for all tasks

  • Specify duration per task and duration units: days, weeks, or months

  • Add users to carbon copy (CC) field

  • End workflow on first rejection

  • End workflow if document changes

  • Enable content approval on the workflow

  • Specify workflow name, description, and owner

  • Enable visualizations on workflow status page

  • Disable automatic workflow start when new items are created

  • Disable automatic workflow start when items are changed

  • Disable manual start of workflows

  • Add and remove fields on the task completion form

  • Customize appearance and behavior of all workflow forms: association, initiation, and task

  • Specify that only task recipients and process owners can read and edit tasks

  • Allow reassignment of tasks

  • Allow change requests of tasks

  • Change task outcome buttons, like approve and reject

  • Change the parameters in the association and initiation forms

  • Add and customize local variables used in the workflow

  • Change the completion conditions for the workflow

  • Customize each stage of the individual task – when it's assigned, pending, expires, deleted, and completes

  • Customize each stage of the overall task process: when it starts, running, cancelled, and completed

  • Add more workflow functionality above and around the approval process to integrate it into existing workflows.

  • Create copies of the workflow to customize.

  • Save the custom workflow as a template.

  • Publish the workflow globally so that it is available to all sites in the site collection.

When you open SharePoint Designer 2010 or 2013 and then open Workflows from the navigation pane, you see all of the workflows available to your site. You see list workflows, site workflows, and reusable workflows. In addition to these, you see the globally reusable workflows, which is where the default approval workflows in SharePoint Server show up.

SharePoint Designer workflows

You’ll notice that only the Approval, Collect Feedback, Collect Signatures, and Publishing workflows display here. This is because these workflows were all built using features supported in SharePoint Designer 2010 or 2013. For example, they use the OfficeTask workflow action, integrated InfoPath forms, and support for Visio-based workflows. The Three-state workflow and the Disposition Approval workflow, however, are not supported because these are compiled workflows that would require a development application like Microsoft Visual Studio to replicate the workflow activities. The remainder of this article will focus on the workflows that are supported in SharePoint Designer 2010 or 2013.

There are two ways to edit the workflows. Edit them directly and make changes to the original workflow, or create a copy of the workflow and customize it. Both options are available to you if you’re a site collection administrator. If you’re a site owner or designer, the workflows are read-only, so you’ll have to create a copy and edit the copy. It’s a good practice anyway to edit a copy of the workflow in case the original workflow is currently in use and serving a business function.

When you open the approval workflow (whether you edit the original or edit a copy), you see the summary page, the first layer of user interface for the workflow. This page shows you the main workflow settings and objects related to the workflow.

SharePoint Designer workflows

You see, for example, the name and description fields as well as its workflow type and content type. You see some of the common workflow settings, like language and whether to enable workflow visualization, which is the web-based visual display of the workflow status provided by Visio Services in SharePoint Server 2010. You also see the start options, where you can disable the manual start of a workflow, the automatic start of a workflow when new items are created, and the automatic start of a workflow when items are changed. Choosing any of these options will disable the corresponding workflow start option in SharePoint.

You also see the forms associated with the workflow – the association and initiation form (the same form is used for both purposes), and the task form. These are InfoPath 2010 forms that can be opened from here and customized directly in the InfoPath form editor. In the ribbon, you can customize the initiation form parameters, local variables, and associated columns for the workflow - all of which are used to collect, store, and retrieve data throughout the workflow process. Using the ribbon, you can also change the associated lists and content types, as well as export and import the workflow to and from Visio 2010.

To get deeper into the workflow and begin customizing its definition and logic, choose Edit workflow in the Customization group.

On this screen, you’re looking at the standard workflow editor in SharePoint Designer 2010 or 2013. It’s a full-screen workspace where you can create and customize workflows of all kinds. Typically, you use this space to create custom workflows that automate system processes or those that automatically update, change, or move data based on a changing data source.

In the case of the Approval workflow, the workflow contains just one line, which starts the approval process on a given item with a group of approvers (who are specified when the workflow is set up).

SharePoint Designer workflows

While this might appear relatively simple at first, this one “Start Approval process” action is actually a composite workflow action that holds the task hierarchy and core routing logic of an entire approval process. In effect, it’s a workflow action with multiple layers and behaviors, including task assignments, routing details, and data binding to SharePoint content.

If you were creating a new approval workflow from scratch, you could simply add this “Start Approval process” action from the Action gallery and instantly have the framework and logic for an approval process.

To view and edit the contents of this Approval workflow click the Approval link. This takes you to the task process summary page.

The task process summary page shows all of the objects related to the task process in the same way that the workflow summary page shows all of the objects related to the workflow. You can almost think of the task process as a sub-workflow nested in the main workflow. The task process summary page is one level below the workflow summary page in the hierarchy of objects.

On the summary page, you can change the name and owner. You can specify that only task recipients and process owners can add and edit workflows tasks. You can allow reassignment and change requests for the workflow. You can add and remove individual task completion fields, and you can change the task outcomes, like Approve and Reject.

SharePoint Designer workflows

But the most significant settings are in the Customization group, where you can change the workflow completion conditions, behaviors of individual tasks, and behaviors of the overall task process. (There’s a “Return to the workflow” link as well in this section that simply brings you back to the workflow editor on the previous screen.)

To customize the workflow behaviors and completion conditions, you use the task process editor - which acts like a sub-workflow editor within the larger workflow editor of SharePoint Designer. In the task process editor, you see into the approval workflow framework with its layers of tasks and task processes, while at the time being able to add and customize whatever logic you like using the available workflow commands.

The first option available is to change the completion conditions for the task process. When you open the completion conditions for the Approval workflow, you see all of the conditions that must be met for the workflow to be considered complete. For example, if the number of approved tasks equals the completed task count, then the approved variable is set to Yes. You can add more logic here so that a different set of conditions are required for the workflow to be complete or you can leave the existing conditions in place.

Note:  In addition to the default workflow actions, approval workflows include a group of Task Behavior Actions that you can use to add task-specific logic to the workflow. For example, you can insert actions that append, escalate, and send new task notifications.

SharePoint Designer workflows

You can change the behavior of each phase of the individual tasks using the task process editor. Specifically, you can change what happens when a task is assigned, when it’s pending, when it expires, when it’s deleted, and when it completes. In the Approval workflow, you see the logic that has been added to each of these phases.

SharePoint Designer workflows

For example, if the task expires - specifically if the task is incomplete after its due date - it sends an email notification to the individual who is assigned the current task.

In addition to changing the behaviors of the individual tasks, you can change the behaviors of the overall task process, which encapsulates the individual tasks. Specifically, you can change what happens when the task process starts, when it’s running (which includes deleted and changed), when it’s canceled, and when it completes. In the Approval workflow, you see a lot more logic has been added to these stages of the workflow.

SharePoint Designer workflows

For example, there are a number of things happen when the task process completes. If the approved variable equals yes, then the workflow status is set to approved. If the enable content approval parameter is Yes, then content approval for the workflow item is set to approved. These are just a small sample of the logic that has been added to the overall task process.

Again, you can change this logic or add your own logic to this stage or any of the stages in the task process. Just examining the existing logic is a great way to learn how to create and apply workflow designs.

Next steps

The approval workflows in SharePoint Server can be used for a wide variety of business processes from informal content reviews to structured expense reporting because they follow similar routing patterns. As such, you can use the default workflows as they are to address these needs, changing only the type of workflow, the approvers, due dates, and so on.

Where businesses and departments may differ is in the behaviors specific to each stage in the workflow process. And this is where you can use SharePoint Designer 2010 or 2013 and its workflow editors to add and customize new logic in each phase of the process while preserving the common behaviors of the overall business workflow.

The best way to get started with the approval workflows is to apply them to your site using a small group of approvers, observe the forms and emails, the document or items being approved, and the associated task and history lists. Then start making changes using first SharePoint in the browser and then SharePoint Designer 2010 or 2013.

Sours: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/understand-approval-workflows-in-sharepoint-server-a24bcd14-0e3c-4449-b936-267d6c478579

5 Steps to Enhance SharePoint 2010 Approval Workflow

In my previous post, we discussed the shortcomings of SharePoint 2010 Approval workflow. Though empowering and convenient to use, the out-of-box workflow lacks a user-centered experience. To quickly recap, I highlighted five limitations in particular:

  • Inability to specify workflow condition
  • Potential governance concern
  • Vague email notifications
  • Due Date Duration not accounted for
  • Rejected document marked as “Completed”

Fortunately, through SharePoint Designer (SPD) 2010, you can extend the approval workflow process. This post outlines how to configure the approval workflow using the SPD workflow designer. Though it’s certainly not the only way to customize approval workflow, I find myself coming back to this similar framework when implementing approval processes.

Step 1 – Expose “Start Approval Process” action in workflow designer

  1. Open SPD 2010 and create a new List Workflow for your Document Library
  2. Click Action in the ribbon. Then select “Start Approval Process” under the “Task Actions” heading
    Start Approval Process Action
  3. Click on “these users” to set the approval designations
  4. The next screen you’ll see mimics the Approval Workflow design form in the UI. Fill in the appropriate approval details. (Note: You can add multiple approval stages by clicking this icon and selecting “Insert Assignment Stage”)
    these users
  5. After clicking Ok, you’ve completed the 1st step. Click on “Approval” to start configuring the details of the approval workflow.
    Update Approval Process
  6. Optional Step

    For every approval action you utilize in SPD, SharePoint creates a custom Approval Site Content Type. In other word, if you create 5 approval actions through SPD, you’ll end up with 5 different Approval Content Types (see screenshot below). So, it’s a good idea to rename the Approval Site Content Type and match your workflow name. Renaming to “Approval – Team A Proposal Draft,” for example, would provide better context and probably serve your well in the future.

Step 2 – Update email notification for the requester

  1. Click on “Change the behavior of the overall task process” in the Approval editor page
    Change the behavior of the overall task process
  2. Find the Step “When the Task Process Starts”
  3. Then click on the Action “then Email Workflow Context: Initiator”
    Email Workflow Initiator action
  4. Change the subject line to something more descriptive
    Otherwise SharePoint would send an email with a generic subject line, i.e.: “Approval started on.” To change the subject, click on icon and replace [%Task Process: Process Name%] with something easier for your team to relate to, i.e.: RFP Approval, Draft Report Approval, etc.
  5. Clean up the email body. Below is a screenshot example of my change:
      Workflow Initiator email design

    The following Data Sources and Fields were kept same:

    • [%Task Process:Item Title (Unencoded)%]
    • [%Task Process:Item Title%]
    • [%Task Process:Participant List%]
    • View the status of this workflow
      • URL is the same
      • Changed label to “Monitor the status of the approval here”

    The following Data Source and Field were added:

    • [%Workflow Context: Initiator%]
      • Data Source = Workflow Context
      • Field from source = Initiator
      • Return field as = Display Name

Email as end result of Step 2:

    Workflow Initiator actual email

Step 3 – Update email for approver(s)

  1. Click on “Change the behavior of a single task” in the Approval editor page
    Change the behavior of a single task
  2. Find the Step “When a Task is Pending”
  3. Then find the Condition “If Current Task: External Participant is empty,” and click on “Current Task: Assigned To”
    Email Assigned To
  4. Clean up the email body. Below is a screenshot example of my change:
      Approver email design

    The following Data Sources and Fields were kept same:

    • [%Current Task: Title%]
      • This value comes from the Title field in the Select Task Process Participants screen (see #4 in Step 1 above)
    • [%Workflow Context: Initiator%]
    • [%Task Process:Item Title%]

    The following Data Sources and Fields were added:

    • [%Current Task: Assigned To%]
      • Data Source = Current Task: Approval
      • Field from source = Assigned To
      • Return field as = Display Name
    • [%Current Task:Due Date%]
      • Data source = Current Task: Approval
      • Field from source = Due Date
      • Return field as = Short Date
    • Access approval form in SharePoint
      • To create hyperlink, highlight the text then click Globe Hyperlink Icon icon
      • Assign [%Current Task:Form_URN%] on the address field:
        • Data source = Current Task: Approval
        • Field from source = Form_URN
        • Return field as = As String
      • Click OK a couple of times and you should see the following below. Then click OK.
        Edit Hyperlink

Email as end result of Step 3:

    Workflow Assigned To actual email

Step 4 – Update rejection notice

  1. Click on “Change the behavior of the overall task process” in the Approval editor page
    Change the behavior of the overall task process
  2. Find the Step ““When the Task Process Completes”
  3. Find “Set workflow status to Rejected.” Then click below “Set workflow status to Rejected.”
  4. Update email subject line to denote rejection:
    • Add “Set Workflow Variable” from Action on the ribbon
      Workflow Variable
    • Click on “workflow variable” then select “Variable: CompletionMailTitle”
    • Click on “value” to assign a rejection tagline to be displayed in the email subject line
      • Access the String Builder by clicking this icon
      • Use the word “Rejected” combined with brief info about the rejected file
      • E.g.: “REJECTED – Draft Report: [%Task Process:Item Title%]”
        • Data source = Task Process: Approval
        • Field from source = Item Title
        • Return field as = As String

        String Builder Rejected Title

  5. Update email content to denote rejection:
    • Click under the action you just created to add another workflow action
    • Click “Set Workflow Variable” from Action on the ribbon
    • Click on “workflow variable” then select “Variable: CompletionMailReason”
    • Click on “value” to assign a rejection message to be displayed in the email body
      • Access the String Builder by clicking this icon
      • Include the word “Rejected” along with some context about the rejected file
        String Builder for Rejected Body
  6. At this point, your set of Rejected actions should look similar to the following
    Rejected workflow actions
  7. Scroll below and click on the last action – “Email Workflow Context: Initiator” under “Else”
    Workflow Context Initiator
  8. Clean up the email body
    • Remove the first line. Otherwise, the words “Approval” and “Completed” will be included on the rejected email
    • Make sure you keep both [%Variable: CompletionReason%] and [%TaskProcess:Consolidated Comments%] because they provide the rejected status and comments from the user(s) who rejected the file
    • Everything else is optional. Please feel free to redesign as needed.

Email as end result of Step 4:

    Rejected email

Step 5 – Update notification for approved files

  1. Similar to Step 4. Only this time, we’re configuring the email notification for an approved document
  2. Click on “Change the behavior of the overall task process” in the Approval editor page
  3. Find the Step ““When the Task Process Completes”
  4. Find “If Variable: IsItemApproved equals Yes” then click below “Set workflow status to Approved.”
  5. Update email subject line to denote Approval:
    • Add “Set Workflow Variable” from Action on the ribbon
    • Click on “workflow variable” then select “Variable: CompletionMailTitle”
    • Click on “value” to assign a rejection tagline to be displayed in the email subject line
      • Access the String Builder by clicking this icon
      • Use the word “Approved” combined with brief info about the approved file
      • E.g.: “APPROVED – Draft Report: [%Task Process:Item Title%]”
        • Data source = Task Process: Approval
        • Field from source = Item Title
        • Return field as = As String
  6. Update email content to denote Approval:
    • Click under the action you just created to add another workflow action
    • Click “Set Workflow Variable” from Action on the ribbon
    • Click on “workflow variable” then select “Variable: CompletionMailReason”
    • Click on “value” to assign a rejection message to be displayed in the email body
      • Access the String Builder by clicking this icon
      • Include the word “Approved” along with some context about the approved file
        String Builder Approved
  7. At this point, your set of Approved actions should look similar to the following
    Approved workflow actions

Email as end result of Step 5:

    Approved email

And there you have it! Five steps to get you started with enhancing the approval workflow. We focused mostly on emails, but there are still other system generated emails that you can configure. Furthermore, there are a slew of other functions that you can explore, e.g., Task Form Fields and Task Outcomes to extend the approval capability even further. I hope this post would get you started in the right direction.

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SharePoint workflows can help you automate your business processes, making them both more consistent and more efficient. The Approval workflow lets you route documents and other items stored in SharePoint to one or more people for their approval.

Note: SharePoint 2010 workflows have been retired since August 1, 2020 for new tenants and removed from existing tenants on November 1, 2020. If you’re using SharePoint 2010 workflows, we recommend migrating to Power Automate or other supported solutions. For more info, see SharePoint 2010 workflow retirement.

For more information, see About the workflows included with SharePoint.

Important: By default, the Approval workflow is not activated and is not listed in the Select a workflow template list box of the association form. To make it available for use, a site administrator must activate them at the site collection level. Go to Site Settings > Site Collection Features > activate the Workflows feature. Also, SharePoint 2013 provides these workflow templates based on SharePoint 2010 compatibility mode. To create a SharePoint 2013 based workflow with similar logic, use SharePoint Designer 2013.

If all you need to do is complete an Approval workflow task    Just scroll down to the Complete segment and expand it. You might not need any of the other segments for now.

Comparison of manual process with automated workflow

SharePoint workflows are:

  • Efficient and consistent    An Approval workflow automatically routes the document or item, assigns review tasks and tracks their progress, and sends reminders and notifications when needed. The activity in a workflow can be monitored and adjusted from a central status page, and the history of events in a workflow run is maintained for 60 days after completion.

  • Less work for you    An Approval workflow saves you and your colleagues both time and trouble, and at the same time streamlines and standardizes your approval process.

Here’s a diagram of a very simple version of the Approval workflow.

Diagram of simple Approval workflow

The information in this article is presented in ten expandable segments.

Click here for a few tips about getting the most out of this article

If all you need to do is complete an Approval workflow task    Just scroll down to the Complete segment and expand it. You might not need any of the other segments for now.

If you want to add, start, monitor, and maintain workflows    If you aren’t already familiar with these tasks, you might find it useful to work your way through this article, segment by segment, the first time that you design and add a workflow. Once you’re familiar with the information and the article layout, you’ll be able to go straight to the segment you need on any return visits.

Content approval and publishing approval    You might have lists or libraries in which you want new items and/or new versions of current items to be reviewed for the accuracy of their content, or for the appropriateness of their form and style, before they’re made visible to everyone who has access to the list. That sort of review process is called content approval, and you can use an Approval workflow to control content approval in a list or library. (There is also a very similar Publishing Approval workflow, created especially for use in SharePoint sites that publish webpages to the Internet.)

A word about printing this article    This is a long article. If you want to print only selected segments, make sure that only those segments are expanded when you print. (Also, if you want to include the complete graphics in your printed copy, print in landscape orientation and not portrait orientation.)

And a word about searching    Before you search for any text or term in this article, make sure that all of the segments in which you want to search are expanded.

An Approval workflow is a SharePoint feature that routes a document or other item stored in a SharePoint list or library to one or more people for their approval or rejection. The workflow automates, streamlines, and standardizes the whole process.

Simple Approval workflow diagram

The basic Approval workflow that’s included with SharePoint products functions as a template. Using this template, you can add multiple Approval workflows to your sites. Each workflow that you add is a unique version of the basic Approval workflow, each with its own specialized way of working, based on the settings that you specify when you add it.

Sections in this segment

  1. What can an Approval workflow do for me?

  2. What can’t an Approval workflow do?

  3. Who can use this type of workflow?

  4. How do you plan, add, run, and maintain this type of workflow?

1. What can an Approval workflow do for me?

  • When you first add an Approval workflow to your list, library, or site collection, you can specify how many participants to include, and indicate whether their tasks are assigned one after another (in serial) or all at once (in parallel). You can even decide whether to divide the participants’ tasks into two or more separate stages, as well specify a final due date and/or the time allowed for each task to be completed. And each time that you start the workflow manually on an item, you can modify any of these settings.

  • The workflow assigns a task to each specified participant. Each participant chooses among several possible responses: to approve or reject the item, to request a change in the item, to reassign the task, or to cancel or delete the task.

  • While the workflow is running, you can monitor progress and make adjustments (if needed) from a single, central Workflow Status page.

  • For 60 days after the workflow is completed, the list of all workflow events that occurred in the course of this run (or instance) of the workflow is still available on the Workflow Status page, for informal reference.

You can also use an Approval workflow to manage a content approval process for a list or library. For more information, see the Control segment of this article.

2. What can’t an Approval workflow do?

Participants in an Approval workflow aren’t usually permitted to make changes in the item being reviewed. Instead, participants can request that changes be made to the item in the course of the workflow instance. If you want to add a workflow in which participants insert comments and tracked changes in the item itself, see the article, All about Collect Feedback workflows, in the See Also section.

Also, Approval workflows aren’t designed to collect signatures. If you want to use a workflow to collect signatures in a Microsoft Word document, a Microsoft Excel workbook, or a Microsoft InfoPath form, see the article,All about Collect Signatures workflows, in the See Also section.

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3. Who can use this type of workflow?

To add a workflow   By default, you must have the Manage Lists permission to add a workflow. (The Owners group has the Manage Lists permission by default; the Members group and the Visitors group do not.)

To start a workflow   Also by default, you must have the Edit Items permission to start a workflow that’s already been added. (The Members group and the Owners group both have the Edit Items permission by default; the Visitors group does not.)

Alternatively, Owners can choose to configure specific workflows so that they can be started only by members of the Owners group. (To do this, select the Require Manage Lists Permissions to start this workflow check box, on the first page of the association form.)

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4. How do you plan, add, run, and maintain this type of workflow?

These are the basic stages:

  • BEFORE the workflow runs (plan, add, start)
    Before you add a workflow, you plan where you want to add it (for a single list or library, or for the entire site collection) and the details of how it will work. After you’ve added and configured the workflow, anyone with the necessary permissions can start the workflow on a specific item. The workflow can also be set up to run automatically. Automatic runs can be activated based on either or both of two triggering events: when any item is added to or created in a list or library, or when any item in a list or library is changed.

  • WHILE the workflow runs (complete, monitor, adjust)
    While the workflow runs, individual participants complete their assigned tasks. Automatic reminders are sent to participants who fail to meet task deadlines. Meanwhile, the progress of the workflow can be monitored from a central Workflow Status page for that particular instance of the workflow. Adjustments to the workflow while it runs can be made from that same page; and, if necessary, the workflow can be canceled or terminated from there.

  • AFTER the workflow runs (review, report, change)
    When the workflow is complete, the whole history of that run (or instance) can be reviewed for up to 60 days on the Workflow Status page. From the same page, statistical reports on the performance of this workflow version can be created. Finally, if there is ever anything that you want to change about the way the workflow functions, you can open and edit the association form that you completed when you first added the workflow.

The following flow chart illustrates these stages from the perspective of the person who is adding a new workflow.

Workflow Process

In this segment, we identify the decisions you need to make and the information you need to assemble before you add a version of the Approval workflow.

If you’re already familiar with how to add this type of workflow and only need a reminder about the specific steps, you can go straight to the appropriate Add segment (List/library or Site collection) of this article.

Sections in this segment

  1. Templates and versions

  2. Introducing the association form

  3. Twelve questions to answer

1. Templates and versions

The workflows included with SharePoint products function as master templates on which the specific, individual workflows that you add to your lists, libraries, and site collection are based.

Each time that you add an Approval workflow, for example, you are actually adding a version of the general Approval workflow template. You give each version its own name and its own settings, which you specify in the association form when you add that particular version. That way, you can add multiple workflows, all versions based on the Approval workflow master template, but each of the versions named and tailored for the specific way that you will use it. The named versions can also be referred to as workflow instances.

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2. Introducing the association form

Whenever you add a new workflow version based on one of the included workflow templates, you fill out an association form to specify the way that you want your new instance to work.

In the following section, you’ll find a list of questions that will prepare you to complete the association form. First, though, take a moment or two to look over the form and its fields.

First page of the association form

First initiation form

Second page of the association form

Form for entering run-specific information

The fields in the red box on this second page also appear on the initiation form, which is presented each time that the workflow is started manually, and can be edited there for that single run.

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3. Twelve questions to answer

As soon as you have the answer to all of the questions in this section, you’re ready to add your workflow.

  1. Is this the right workflow type?

  2. One list or library, or the whole site collection? and One content type, or all content types?

  3. What’s a good name?

  4. Task lists and history lists: Existing or new?

  5. How (and by whom) can this workflow be started?

  6. Do content types that inherit from this one also get this workflow?

  7. Participants: Which people, in which order?

  8. What additional information do participants need?

  9. When are tasks due?

  10. When does this workflow end?

  11. Who needs to be notified?

  12. Will this workflow control content approval?

01. Is this the right workflow type?

There are several workflow templates that have the word ‘Approval’ in their names. This article concerns the workflow template that appears in the menu as Approval – SharePoint 2010. If you’re not sure that this workflow type is the best choice for you, refer back to the LEARN segment of this article. For further information about the other workflow templates that are available, see the article, About the workflows included with SharePoint, in the See Also section.

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02. One list or library, or the whole site collection? (and) One content type, or all content types?

You can make your new version of the Approval workflow available in a single list or library only, or you can make it available throughout the entire site collection.

  • If you add the workflow for a single list or library, you can set it up to run either on all content types or on a single content type only.

  • If you add the workflow for the entire site collection, however, you must set it up to run on a single site content type only.

Map of site collection with 3 ways to add explained

What’s a content type?

Each document or other item stored in a SharePoint list or library belongs to one or another content type. A content type can be as basic and generic as Document or Excel Spreadsheet, or as highly specialized as Legal Contract or Product Design Specification. Some content types are available in SharePoint products by default, but you can both customize these and add others that you create yourself. For more information, see Create or customize a site content type and Add a content type to a list or library.

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03. What’s a good name?

Give your workflow version a name that:

  • Clearly indicates what it’s used for.

  • Clearly distinguishes it from other workflows.

An example

Imagine that you’re a member of a group of editors. Your group wants to use two different Approval workflows to manage document submissions from outside contributors:

  • You’ll run the first workflow on each submitted document to decide whether to accept it for the editing process.

  • After you accept and edit a submitted document, you’ll run the second workflow on the edited draft to decide whether to accept it as final.

You might name the first workflow Accept Submission Approval and the second one Final Draft Approval.

Tip: As usual, it’s a good idea to establish consistent naming conventions, and to make sure that everyone involved with your workflows is familiar with those conventions.

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04. Task lists and history lists: Existing or new?

You can have your workflow use the site’s default Tasks list and History list, use other existing Tasks and History lists, or request new lists just for this workflow.

  • If your site will have numerous workflows, or if some workflows will involve numerous tasks, consider requesting new lists for each workflow. (Managing over-long lists can slow down performance. It’s faster and easier for the system to maintain several shorter lists than one very long one.)

  • If the tasks and history for this workflow will contain sensitive or confidential data that you’ll want to keep separated from the general Tasks list, then you should definitely indicate that you want new, separate lists for this workflow. (After you add the workflow, be sure that appropriate permissions are set for the new lists.)

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05. How (and by whom) can this workflow be started?

A workflow can be set up to be started manually only, or automatically only, or either way:

  • When you manually start an Approval workflow on a specific document or item, another form, the initiation form, is presented. The initiation form contains most of the settings from the second page of the association form. That way, if the person who starts the workflow wants to change any of those settings (for the current instance only), they can do so before they click Start. Go to the list > Item context menu > Workflows > Select the workflow to start it manually.

  • With an automatic start, of course, there’s no opportunity to present an initiation form, so the default settings specified in the association form are used without any changes.

The following illustration shows the difference between manual starts and automatic starts.

Forms for manual and automatic start compared

Any changes that you make in the initiation form are applied only during the current instance of the workflow. To change the permanent, default settings of the workflow, you edit the original association form, as explained in the CHANGE segment of this article.

Manual starts

If you allow manual starts, anybody who has the necessary permissions can start the workflow on any eligible item at any time.

The advantages of a manual start are that you and your colleagues can run the workflow only when and if you choose to, and that each time you run it you’ll have the chance to change some settings by using the initiation form.

A quick example    If you want to run your workflow only on items that are authored by a writer from outside your team, then starting it only manually will keep it from running automatically on items authored by you and your teammates. (An alternate solution: Maintain one list or library for items from authors on your team, and a separate list or library for items from all other authors. That way, you can run the workflow automatically, but only in the outside-authors list. Another solution: add an IF condition and set Created By to the specific person. See Workflow conditions quick reference for more information.)

The primary disadvantage of manual starts is that somebody has to remember to run the workflow whenever it’s appropriate to do so.

Automatic starts

You can set up the workflow to be started automatically by any of the following events:

  • Someone attempts to publish a major version of an item.

  • A new item is created in or uploaded to the list or library.

  • An item already stored in the list or library is changed.

The advantage of an automatic start is that no one has to remember to start the workflow. It runs every time a triggering event occurs.

A quick example    If you’re responsible for the accuracy and appropriateness of the items in a list, you could add an Approval workflow to that list and specify yourself as the only participant. You could set up the workflow to start automatically every time an item in the list is changed and every time a new item is added. That way, you’ll always be kept up to date.

Two disadvantages of automatic starts:

  • You can’t stop the workflow from running whenever a triggering event occurs.

  • You can’t change any settings at the beginning of the individual instance.

For more information about running your Approval workflow automatically whenever somebody attempts to publish a major version of an item, see the Control segment of this article.

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06. Do content types that inherit from this one also get this workflow?

Only when you add a workflow to a content type for the entire site collection, you ‘re given the option of also adding the workflow to all other content types in the site collection that inherit from the content type you’re adding the workflow to.

Notes

  • The operation that accomplishes all of the additional adding can take a long time to complete.

  • If inheritance has been broken for any sites or subsites where you want this workflow added to inheriting content types, then make sure that you’re a member of the Owners group in each of those sites or subsites before you run this operation.

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07. Participants: Which people, in which order?

You’ll need to supply the name or email address for each person to whom review tasks will be assigned.

One stage or multiple stages?    You can choose to have only one stage of review tasks, or to have multiple stages. If you have more than one stage, the stages will be performed one after another.

Parallel reviews or serial reviews?    For the participants in any one stage, you can choose either to have their review tasks assigned all at the same time (in parallel) or to have their review tasks assigned one after another (in serial) in the order that you indicate. The serial option can be useful if, for example, you set up the workflow to end after the first rejection — or if you want participants further along to be able to look at comments from earlier participants as part of the context of their reviews.

An example

This simple scenario illustrates a few of the advantages of both multiple stages and serial reviews:

Imagine that Frank adds a new Approval workflow. He wants his coworkers Anna and Sean to review each item first, before he himself reviews it. He also wants the workflow to end before his own review if either Anna or Sean rejects the item. Frank can set this up in either of two ways:

  • By using a serial review   Frank sets up a single-stage serial review in which Anna and Sean are the first two participants and he is the third; and he selects the End on First Rejection option.
    In this arrangement, Anna must approve the item before Sean’s task is assigned, and then Sean must approve the item before Frank’s task is assigned. If Anna rejects the item, neither Sean nor Frank will be assigned a task; and if Anna approves but Sean rejects, then the workflow still ends before Frank’s review task is ever assigned.
    Here’s how Frank sets up his single-stage serial review.
    Form with setting for serial stage highlighted
    End on first rejection option selected

  • By using two stages   If Frank wants Anna and Sean to be assigned their reviews at the same time, so that Sean doesn’t have to wait for Anna to finish before she can begin, he can set up two stages in the workflow: the first a parallel stage for Anna and Sean’s reviews, and the second a separate stage for only his own review. Again, he selects the End on First Rejection option. The second stage won’t start until the first stage is completed; so again, if either Anna or Sean rejects the item, Frank’s review task will never be assigned.
    Here’s how Frank sets up his two-stage parallel review.
    Form with setting for parallel stage highlighted
    End on first rejection option selected

Here are diagrams of both solutions.

Serial workflow and two-stage workflow side by side

Outside participants    There is a special process for including participants who aren’t members of your SharePoint organization. In this process, a site member acts as a proxy for the outside participant.

Here’s a diagram of that process:

Process flow chart for including outside participant

Assign one task to each whole group, or one to each group member?    If you include a group address or distribution list among your workflow participants, you can have the workflow assign one task to each member of the group, or assign only one task to the entire group (but still send a notification of that single task to each member). When only one task is assigned to the whole group, then any member of the group can claim and complete that single task. (You’ll find instructions for claiming a group task in the Complete segment of this article.)

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08. What additional information do participants need?

There is a text field in the association form where you can provide instructions, details about requirements, resources, and so forth.

Two things that you might include:

  • Contact information, in case participants have difficulties or questions.

  • If you workflow will assign only a single task to each group or distribution list, mention here that a single member of each such group should claim the task before completing it. That way, other members of the group don’t waste time by beginning the same task. You’ll find the details about claiming a group task in the Complete segment of this article

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09. When are tasks due?

You can indicate when workflow tasks are due in either or both of two ways:

By calendar date    You can specify a single calendar date by which all tasks are due.

  • If you set up your workflow to start automatically, you usually shouldn’t use this option. This is because the date value that you specify won’t automatically adjust itself in relation to the current date each time the workflow starts automatically.

By task duration    You can specify a number of days, weeks, or months that are allowed for the completion of each task, beginning when that task is assigned.

  • A calendar due date overrides a specified task duration. That is: If today is June 10, and I’m assigned a task today that has a three-day duration, but which also has a calendar due date of June 11, then the task will be due on June 11 (the calendar due date) and not on June 13 (the end of the three-day duration).

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10. When does this workflow end?

To avoid wasted time spent on unnecessary reviews, you can choose to have the workflow end immediately (before the specified or calculated due date) when either of two events occurs:

  • Any participant rejects the item.

  • The item is changed in any way.

Note: A workflow can’t start on an item that’s currently checked out. After the workflow starts, however, the item for review can be checked out to protect it from changes. (But until that item is checked in again, no other workflow can start on it.)

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11. Who needs to be notified?

In the CC field, on the second page of the association form, you can enter names or addresses for anyone who should be notified each time this workflow starts or ends.

  • Entering a name here doesn’t result in the assignment of a workflow task to that person.

  • When the workflow is started manually, the person who starts it receives the start and end notifications without needing to be specified in this field.

  • When the workflow is started automatically, the person who originally added it receives the start and end notifications without needing to be specified in this field.

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12. Will this workflow control content approval?

You might have lists or libraries in which you want new items and/or new versions of current items to be reviewed for the accuracy of their content, or for the appropriateness of their form and style, before they’re made visible to everyone who has access to the list. That sort of review process is called content approval.

In SharePoint products, you can use an Approval workflow to make the content approval process even easier and more efficient. For more information, see the Control content approval segment of this article.

What’s next?

If you’re ready to add your new Approval workflow to your list, library, or site collection, go to the appropriate Add segment (List/library or Site collection) of this article.

You might have lists and libraries in which you want new items and/or new versions of current items to be reviewed for the accuracy of their content or the appropriateness of their form and style before they’re made visible to everyone who has access to the list. That sort of review process is called content approval.

In SharePoint products, you can control content approval manually, without a workflow; but a SharePoint Approval workflow can make the process even easier and more efficient.

If you aren’t already familiar with the versioning and content approval features in SharePoint products, we recommend that you begin with a review of the following articles:

There are two ways in which an Approval workflow can control the content approval process, each way associated with a single control in the association forms that you fill out when you first add the workflow. You can use your workflow for either or both.

Control of publication of major versions

In the Start Options area of the first page of the association form, there’s an option to Start this workflow to approve publishing a major version of an item. A few things to note:

  • This option is available only for an Approval workflow that runs on all content types in a single list or library, and not for any workflow that runs on items of a single content type only.

  • For this option to be available, content approval must enabled for the list or library on the Versioning Settings page, and the Create major and minor (draft) versions option must be selected on that same page.

  • If you select this option, the two options that follow it become unavailable: Start this workflow when a new item is created and Start this workflow when an item is changed.

  • If you select this option, your workflow will run automatically on an item only when someone attempts to publish a major version of that item.

  • In any one list or library, there can only be one Approval workflow that’s used for approving publication of major versions. If you attempt to designate a second workflow in the same list or library for this function, you will be prompted to choose one or the other.

Control not based on versioning

In the Enable Content Approval area of the second page of the association form, there’s an option to Update the approval status after the workflow is completed (use this workflow to control content approval).

This option is available in the form whether or not content approval is required in the list or library. Either way, the value in the Approval field for the item is updated based on the outcome of the workflow.

Using this option, you can either:

  • Always run the workflow manually, or

  • Select one or more of the automatic-start options in the first page of the association form, or

  • Allow both manual and automatic starts

Content control for web-publishing sites

Content control is a specialized process in sites that publish pages to the web. Accordingly, there is a specialized Publishing Approval workflow for use in publishing sites, as well as a site template (named Publishing Site with Workflow) that includes a version of that workflow already customized for use in web publishing.

What’s next?

If you’re ready to add your new Approval workflow to your list, library, or site collection, go to the appropriate Add segment (List/library or Site collection) of this article.

If you’re not yet familiar with adding workflows, you might find it useful to review both the LEARN segment and the PLAN segment in this article before you proceed with the steps in this segment.

Sections in this segment

  1. Before you begin

  2. Add the workflow

1. Before you begin

Two matters need to be in order before you can add a workflow:

Email    In order for the workflow to send email notifications and reminders, email must be enabled for your SharePoint site. If you’re not sure that this has already been done, check with your SharePoint administrator. Also see SharePoint 2013 Step by step: Setup for Outgoing Email Setting.

Permissions    The SharePoint default settings require that you have the Manage Lists permission to add workflows for lists, libraries, or site collections. (The Owners group has the Manage Lists permission by default; the Members group and the Visitors groups do not. For more information about permissions, see the LEARN segment of this article.)

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2. Add the workflow

Follow these steps:

  1. Open the list or library for which you want to add the workflow.

  2. On the ribbon, click the List or Library tab.

    Note: The name of the tab can vary with the type of list or library. For example, in a calendar list the tab is named Calendar.

  3. In the Settings group, click Workflow Settings.

  4. On the Workflow Settings page, under Show workflow associations of this type, specify if you want the workflow to run on the document, list, or a folder and then click Add a workflow.

  5. Complete the first page of the association form.
    (Instructions follow the illustration.)

    Add Workflow basic info with sections called out

    Callout number one

    Content type

    Keep the default selection as All, or select a specific content type.

    Callouot number two

    Template

    Select the Approval – SharePoint 2010 template.

    Note: If the Approval – SharePoint 2010 template doesn’t appear in the list, contact your SharePoint administrator to find out about having it activated for your site collection or workspace. If you are an administrator, Go to Site Settings > Site Collection Features > Activate Workflows feature.

    Callout number three

    Name

    Type a name for this workflow. The name will identify this workflow to users of this list or library.

    For suggestions about naming your workflow, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number four

    Task List

    Select a task list to use with this workflow. You can select an existing task list or click New task list to have a new list created.

    For information about reasons for creating a new task list (as opposed to choosing an existing one), see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number 5

    History List

    Select a history list to use with this workflow. You can select an existing history list or click Workflow History (new) to have a new list created.

    For information about reasons for creating a new history list (as opposed to choosing an existing one), see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number six

    Start Options

    Specify the way or ways in which this workflow can be started.

    For information about selecting start options, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    For information about using the workflow to control content approval, including the publication of major versions, see the Control segment of this article.

    • Note that the option Start this workflow to approve publishing a major version of an itemdoesn’t appear if you’re adding the workflow for only a single content type.

    • Also note that if you select Start this workflow to approve publishing a major version of an item, the two following check boxes become unavailable.

  6. When all of the settings in this form are the way you want them, click Next.

  7. Complete the second page of the association form.
    (Instructions follow the illustration.)

    Note: SharePoint products presents you with the first several options in this second page of the association form — numbers one through seven in the following illustration, from Approvers through CC — each time that you start the workflow manually, so that you can make changes to those options for just that one instance.

    Add Workflow default values with fields called out

    Callout number one

    Assign to

    Enter names or addressed for the people you want the workflow to assign tasks to.

    • If the tasks will be assigned one at a time (in serial)
      Enter the names or addresses in the order in which the tasks should be assigned.

    • If all of the tasks will be assigned at the same time (in parallel)
      The order of the names or addresses doesn’t matter.

    • If you’re assigning a task to someone outside of your SharePoint organization
      For more information about including outside participants, see the Complete segment of this article.

    Callouot number two

    Order

    Specify whether the tasks should be assigned one at a time (in serial) or all at once (in parallel).

    For more information about using serial order and parallel order, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number three

    Add a new stage

    Add any stages that you want beyond the first one that you’ve just configured.

    • To delete an entire stage, click in the Assign To field for that stage, and then press CTRL+DELETE.

    For more information about using multiple stages, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number four

    Expand groups

    • To have one task assigned to each member of each group that you enter in the Assign to field, select this check box. (Each member of the group will receive a task notification, and each member will have his or her own task to complete.)

    • To have only one task assigned to each entire group that you enter in the Assign to field, clear this check box. (Each member of the group will receive a task notification, but any one member can claim and complete the single task on behalf of the whole group. You’ll find instructions for claiming a group task in the Complete segment of this article.)

    Callout number 5

    Request

    Any text that you include here will be included in each task notification that the workflow sends. Don’t forget to include any additional instructions or resources that participants might need, including:

    • Contact information.

    • If appropriate, a note about single tasks assigned to entire groups or distribution lists. (You’ll find instructions for claiming a group task in the Complete segment of this article.)

    Callout number six

    Due dates and task durations

    Specify a final due date for the entire workflow, and/or specify the number of days, weeks, or months allowed for the completion of each task from the time when it’s assigned.

    • If this workflow will ever start automatically, it’s usually a good idea to leave the Due Date for All Tasks field empty and to use the two duration fields to control the due date. You can always supply a precise due date in the initiation form if and when you start the workflow manually.

    For more information about when to use due dates and when to use task durations, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number seven

    CC

    Enter the names or email addresses of anyone who should be notified each time the workflow starts or ends.

    • Entering a name here doesn’t result in the assignment of a workflow task.

    • When the workflow is started manually, the person who starts it receives the start and stop notifications without needing to be specified in this field.

    • When the workflow is started automatically, the person who originally added it receives the start and stop notifications without needing to be specified in this field.

    Callout number eight

    Ending the workflow

    Select neither, either, or both of these options.

    For more information about these options, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number nine

    Enable content approval

    Select this check box if you will be using this workflow to manage content approval.

    For more information about using the workflow to control content approval, including the publication of major versions, see the Control segment of this article.

  8. When you have all of the settings in this page the way you want them, click Save to create the workflow.

If you’re not yet familiar with adding workflows, you might find it useful to review both the LEARN segment and the PLAN segment in this article before you proceed with the steps in this segment.

Sections in this segment

  1. Before you begin

  2. Add the workflow

1. Before you begin

Two matters need to be in order before you can add a workflow:

Email    In order for the workflow to send email notifications and reminders, email must be enabled for your site. If you’re not sure that this has already been done, check with your SharePoint administrator. Also see SharePoint 2013 Step by step: Setup for Outgoing Email Setting.

Permissions    The SharePoint default settings require that you have the Manage Lists permission to add workflows for lists, libraries, or site collections. (The Owners group has the Manage Lists permission by default; the Members group and the Visitors groups do not. For more information about permissions, see the LEARN segment of this article.)

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2. Add the workflow

Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the home page for the site collection (not the home page for a site or subsite within the collection).

  2. Click the Settings icon SharePoint Online Public Website Settings button and then click Site settings.

  3. On the Site Settings page, under Web Designer Galleries, click Site Content Types.

  4. On the Site Content Types page, click the name of the site content type for which you want to add a workflow.

    Note: A workflow added to the whole site collection must be added for items of a single content type only.

    Document Content Types with type highlighted

    1. On the page for the selected content type, under Settings, click Workflow Settings.
      Workflow settings link in Settings section

    2. On the Workflow Settings page, click the Add a workflow link.
      Add a workflow link

    3. Complete the first page of the association form.
      (Instructions follow the illustration.)

    Workflow setup page

    Callout number one

    Template

    Select the Approval – SharePoint 2010 template.

    Note: If the Approval – SharePoint 2010 template doesn’t appear in the list, contact your SharePoint administrator to find out about having it activated for your site collection or workspace. If you are an administrator, Go to Site Settings > Site Collection Features > Activate Workflows feature.

    Callouot number two

    Name

    Type a name for this workflow. The name will identify this workflow to users of this site collection.

    For suggestions about naming your workflow, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number three

    Task List

    Select a task list to use with this workflow. You can select an existing task list or click New task list to have a new list created.

    For information about reasons for creating a new task list (as opposed to choosing an existing one), see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number four

    History List

    Select a history list to use with this workflow. You can select an existing history list or click Workflow History (new) to have a new list created.

    For information about reasons for creating a new history list (as opposed to choosing an existing one), see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number 5

    Start Options

    Specify the way or ways in which this workflow can be started.

    For information about selecting start options, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number six

    Add this workflow to child content types?

    Specify whether this workflow should be added to (associated with) all other site and list content types that inherit from this content type.

    • The operation that accomplishes all of the additional adding can take a long time to complete.

    • If inheritance has been broken for any sites or subsites where you want this workflow added to inheriting content types, then make sure that you are a member of the Owners group in each of those sites or subsites before you run this operation.

  5. When all of the settings in this page are the way you want them, click Next.

  6. Complete the second page of the association form.
    (Instructions follow the illustration.)

    Note:  SharePoint products presents you with the first several options in this second page of the association form — numbers one through seven in the following illustration, from Approvers through CC — each time that you start the workflow manually, so that you can make changes to those options for just that one instance.

    Add Workflow default values with fields called out

    Callout number one

    Assign to

    Enter names or addresses for the people you want the workflow to assign tasks to.

    • If the tasks will be assigned one at a time (in serial)
      Enter the names or addresses in the order in which you want the tasks to be assigned.

    • If all of the tasks will be assigned at the same time (in parallel)
      The order of the names or addresses doesn’t matter.

    • If you’re assigning a task to someone outside of your SharePoint organization
      For more information about including outside participants, see the Complete segment of this article.

    Callouot number two

    Order

    Specify whether the tasks should be assigned one at a time (in serial) or all at once (in parallel).

    For more information about using serial order and parallel order, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number three

    Add a new stage

    Add any stages that you want beyond the first one that you have just configured.

    • To delete an entire stage, click in the Assign To field for that stage, and then press CTRL+DELETE.

    For more information about using multiple stages, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number four

    Expand groups

    • To have one task assigned to each member of each group that you enter in the Assign to field, select this check box. (Each member of the group will receive a task notification, and each member will have his or her own task to complete.)

    • To have only one task assigned to an entiregroup that you enter in the Assign to field, clear this check box. (Each member of the group will receive a task notification, but any one member can claim and complete the single task on behalf of the whole group. You’ll find the instructions for claiming a group task in the Complete segment of this article.)

    Callout number 5

    Request

    Any text that you include here will be included in each task notification that the workflow sends. Don’t forget to include any additional instructions or resources that participants might need, including:

    • Contact information.

    • If appropriate, a note about single tasks assigned to entire groups or distribution lists. (You’ll find instructions for claiming a group task in the Complete segment of this article.)

    Callout number six

    Due dates and task durations

    Specify a final due date for the entire workflow, and/or specify the number of days, weeks, or months allowed for the completion of each task from the time when it’s assigned.

    • If this workflow will ever start automatically, it’s usually a good idea to leave the Due Date for All Tasks field empty and to use the two duration fields to control the due date. You can always supply a precise due date in the initiation form if and when you start the workflow manually.

    For more information about when to use due dates and when to use task durations, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number seven

    CC

    Enter the names or email addresses of anyone who should be notified each time the workflow starts or ends.

    • Entering a name here doesn’t result in the assignment of a workflow task.

    • When the workflow is started manually, the person who starts it receives the start and stop notifications without needing to be specified in this field.

    • When the workflow is started automatically, the person who originally added it receives the start and stop notifications without needing to be specified in this field.

    Callout number eight

    Ending the workflow

    Select neither, either, or both of these options.

    For more information about these options, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number nine

    Enable content approval

    Select this check box if you will be using this workflow to manage content approval.

    For more information about using the workflow to control content approval, including the publication of major versions, see the Control segment of this article.

  7. When you have all of the settings in this page the way you want them, click Save to create the workflow.

What’s next?

If you’re ready, go to the START segment of this article and start the first instance to test your new workflow.

A workflow can be set up to be started manually only, automatically only, or either way:

  • Manually at any time, by anyone who has the necessary permissions.

  • Automatically whenever a specified triggering event occurs. That is, when an item is added to the list or library, and/or when an item in the list is changed in any way, and/or when somebody attempts to publish a major version of an item).
    (The triggering event or events are specified in the first page of the association form, during the original association and configuration of the workflow. For more information, see the PLAN segment of this article.)

Note: A workflow can’t start on an item that’s currently checked out. After the workflow starts, however, the item for review can be checked out to protect it from changes. (But until that item is checked in again, no other workflow can start on it.)

Sections in this segment

  1. Start the workflow automatically

  2. Start the workflow manually

  3. Start manually from the list or library

  4. Start manually from within a Microsoft Office program

1. Start the workflow automatically

If the workflow is configured to start automatically, then each time a triggering event occurs, the workflow runs on the item that triggered it.

When the workflow starts, it assigns the first task or tasks and sends a task notification to each assignee. Meanwhile, it also sends start notifications (distinct from task notifications) to the person who originally added the workflow and to anyone listed in the CC field of the second page of the association form.

Note: When a new workflow that will start automatically is added, the Due Date for All Tasks field on the second page of the association form should usually be left blank, because any explicit date value specified there won’t automatically adjust itself in relation to the date on which the workflow starts each time. For more information, see the PLAN segment of this article.

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2. Start the workflow manually

A note on permissions    Ordinarily, you must have the Edit Items permission to start a workflow. (By default, the Members group and the Owners group both have this permission, but the Visitors group does not. However, an Owner can also choose, on a workflow-by-workflow basis, to require the Manage Lists permission for people who start the workflow. By choosing this option, Owners can essentially specify that only they and other Owners can start a particular workflow. For more details, see the Learn segment of this article.)

Two places to start from

You can start a workflow manually from either of two places:

  • From the list or library where the item is stored

  • From inside the item itself, opened in the Microsoft Office program in which it was created. (Note that this must be the installed program, and not a web-application version.)

The remaining two sections in this segment provide instructions for both methods.

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3. Start manually from the list or library

  1. Go to the list or library where the item that you want to run the workflow on is stored.

  2. Click the ellipsis next to the name of the item, and then in the dialog box click the ellipsis to open the item menu , and then click Workflows on the drop-down menu.

  3. On the Workflows: Item Name page, under Start a New Workflow, click the workflow that you want to run.
    Link to start workflow

  4. On the Change a Workflow page, in the initiation form, make any changes that you want to apply to this specific instance of the workflow.

    Note: Changes made here, in the initiation form, are used only during the current instance of the workflow. If you want to make any changes that will apply each time the workflow runs, or if you want to change workflow settings that don’t appear in this form, see the CHANGE segment of this article.

    Initiation form

    Callout number one

    Assign to

    Make any changes to the list of people that you want the workflow to assign tasks to.

    • If the tasks will be assigned one at a time
      Enter the names or addresses in the order in which the tasks should be assigned.

    • If all of the tasks will be assigned at the same time
      The order of the names or addresses doesn’t matter.

    • If you’re assigning a task to someone outside of your SharePoint organization
      For more information about including outside participants, see the Complete segment of this article

    Callouot number two

    Order

    Make sure that the specifications for whether the tasks should be assigned one at a time (in serial) or all at once (in parallel) are how you want them.

    For more information about using serial order and parallel order, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number three

    Add a new stage

    Add or any stages that you want beyond the one or ones that are currently configured.

    • To delete an entire stage, click in the Assign To field for that stage, and then press CTRL+DELETE.

    For more information about using multiple stages, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number four

    Expand Groups

    • To have one task assigned to each member of each group that you enter in the Assign to field, select this check box. (Each member of the group will receive the task notification, and each member will have his or her own task to complete.)

    • To have only one task assigned to each entire group that you enter in the Assign to field, clear this check box. (Each member of the group will receive a task notification, but any one member can claim and complete the single task on behalf of the whole group. You’ll find the instructions for claiming a group task in the Complete segment of this article.)

    Callout number 5

    Request

    Any text that you include here will be included in each task notification that the workflow sends. Don’t forget to include any additional instructions or resources that participants might need, including:

    • Contact information for questions and problems

    • If applicable, a note about single tasks assigned to entire groups or distribution lists (You’ll find instructions for claiming a group task in the Complete segment of this article.)

    Callout number six

    Due dates and task durations

    Specify a final due date for the entire workflow, and/or specify the number of days, weeks, or months allowed for the completion of each task from the time when it’s assigned.

    For more information about when to use due dates and when to use task durations, see the PLAN segment of this article.

    Callout number seven

    CC

    Make any additions or removals that you want. Remember that:

    • Entering a name here doesn’t result in the assignment of a workflow task.

    • Because you are starting the workflow manually, you will receive the start and stop notifications whether or not you’re listed in this field.

  5. When you have all of the settings in the initiation form the way you want them, click Start to start the workflow.

The workflow assigns the first task or tasks, and meanwhile sends start notifications to you and to anyone listed in the CC field of the initiation form.

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  1. Open the item in the installed Office program on your computer.

  2. In the open item, click the File tab, click Save & Send, and then click the workflow that you want to run on the item.

  3. If you see the following message, telling you that the workflow needs the file to be checked in, click the Check In button.

  4. Click the big Start Workflow button.

  5. On the Change a Workflow page, in the initiation form, make any changes that you want to apply to this specific instance of the workflow.

    Note: Changes made here, in the initiation form, are used only during the current instance of the workflow. If you want to make any changes that will apply each time the workflow runs, or if you want to change workflow settings that don’t appear in this form, see the CHANGE segment of this article.

    Initiation form

Callout number one

Assign to

Make any changes to the list of people that you want the workflow to assign tasks to.

  • If the tasks will be assigned one at a time (in serial)
    Enter the names or addresses in the order in which the tasks should be assigned.

  • If all of the tasks will be assigned at the same time (in parallel)
    The order of the names or addresses doesn’t matter.

  • If you’re assigning a task to someone outside of your SharePoint organization
    For more information about including outside participants, see the Complete segment of this article.

Callouot number two

Order

Make sure that the specifications for whether the tasks should be assigned one at a time (in serial) or all at once (in parallel) are how you want them.

For more information about using serial order and parallel order, see the PLAN segment of this article.

Callout number three

Add a new stage

Add or any stages that you want beyond the one or ones that are currently configured.

  • To delete an entire stage, click in the Assign To field for that stage, and then press CTRL+DELETE.

For more information about using multiple stages, see the PLAN segment of this article.

Callout number four

Expand groups

  • To have one task assigned toeach member of each group that you enter in the Assign to field, select this check box. (Each member of the group will receive the task notification, and each member will have his or her own task to complete.)

  • To have only one task assigned to each entire group that you enter in the Assign to field, clear this check box. (Each member of the group will receive a task notification, but any one member can claim and complete the single task on behalf of the whole group. You’ll find the instructions for claiming a group task in the Complete segment of this article.)

Callout number 5

Request

Any text that you include here will be included in each task notification that the workflow sends. Don’t forget to include any additional instructions or resources that participants might need, including:

  • Contact information for questions and problems.

  • If applicable, a note about single tasks assigned to entire groups or distribution lists. (You’ll find the instructions for claiming a group task in the Complete segment of this article.)

Callout number six

Due dates and task durations

Specify a final due date for the entire workflow, and/or specify the number of days, weeks, or months allowed for the completion of each task from the time when it’s assigned.

For more information about when to use due dates and when to use task durations, see the PLAN segment of this article.

Callout number seven

CC

Make any additions or removals that you want. Remember that:

  • Entering a name here doesn’t result in the assignment of a workflow task.

  • Because you’re starting the workflow manually, you will receive the start and stop notifications whether or not you’re listed in this field.

  1. When you have the settings in the initiation form the way you want them, click Start to start the workflow.

The workflow assigns the first task or tasks, and meanwhile sends start notifications to you and to anyone listed in the CC field of the initiation form.

What’s next?

  • If this is the first time that this workflow has been run, the other participants might need information and assistance in order to complete their assigned tasks. (They might find the Complete segment of this article useful.)

  • Also, it’s a good idea to check whether participants are receiving their email notifications, and particularly that the notifications aren’t being mishandled by junk email filters.

  • And of course, you might have one or more workflow tasks to complete yourself. Go to the Complete segment of this article for the details about how to complete them.

  • Meanwhile, for information about how you can keep track of the progress of the current instance of the workflow, go to the MONITOR segment of this article.

If this is the first time that you’ve been assigned a task in an Approval workflow, you might find it useful to review this segment of the article in full before you complete your task. That way, you’ll be aware of all of the options that may be open to you.

Note: If you know that a workflow task has been assigned to you, but the notification message hasn’t appeared in your email Inbox, make sure that the notification hasn’t been misrouted by your junk email filter. If it has, adjust the settings of your filter accordingly.

First, make sure you’ve got the right article

Different types of workflows require different task actions.

So before you begin, make sure that the task you’ve been assigned is indeed an Approval workflow task, and not a task for some other type of workflow.

Look for the text Please approve in any of the following locations:

  • In the Subject line of the task notification
    Task notification with Please Approve text called out

  • On the message bar in the item to be reviewed
    Item to be reviewed with Please Review text called out

  • In the task title on the Workflow Status page
    Task in Workflow Status page list with Please Review called out

If you don’t see the Please approve text in these locations, check with the person who started or originally added the workflow to find out which workflow template it’s based on — or whether it’s a custom workflow. You’ll find links to articles about how to use the other types of workflows included with SharePoint products in the See Also section of this article.

If your task is an Approval task, however, keep right on reading!

Sections in this segment

  1. An overview of the process

  2. Get to the item and the task form from the task notification message

  3. Get to the item and the task form from the list or library

  4. Review the item

  5. Complete and submit the task form

  6. Overdue notifications

  7. Claim and complete a group task (optional)

  8. Request a change to the item (optional)

  9. Reassign your Approval task to someone else (optional)

  10. Complete a task on behalf of an outside participant (optional)

1. An overview of the process

When you’re assigned a task in a workflow, you usually find out about the task in one of three ways:

  • You receive an email task notification.

  • You open a Microsoft Office document and see a message bar that informs you that you’ve been assigned a related task.

  • You check the SharePoint site and discover that one or more tasks are currently assigned to you.

When you find out that you’ve been assigned an Approval workflow task, you usually do two things:

  • Review the item    Find out whether or not you can approve the item in its current state.

  • Complete your task    Use the task form to submit the results of your review.

Often, therefore, the following three items are involved in your completion of the task:

  • The notification message (which you receive as email)

  • The item submitted for your approval (which you open and review)

  • The task form (which you open, complete, and submit)

Here’s what those three items look like.

Task notification message, item for review, and task form

Note: The Open this Task button on the Ribbon in the task notification message appears only when the message is opened in the full, installed version of Outlook, and not when it’s opened in the Outlook Web Access web application.

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2. Get to the item and the task form from the task notification message

Follow these steps:

  1. In the task notification message, in the To complete this task instructions, click the link to the item.

  2. In the opened item, click the Open this task button on the message bar.

Accessing item and task form from email notification message

Note: The Open this Task button on the Ribbon in the task notification message appears only when the message is opened in the full, installed version of Outlook, and not when it’s opened in the Outlook Web Access web application.

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3. Get to the item and the task form from the list or library

Follow these steps:

  1. In the list or library where the item to be reviewed is stored, click the In Progress link associated with the item and workflow.

  2. On the Workflow Status page, click the title of your task.

  3. In the task form, in the This workflow task applies to message bar, click the link to the item.

Accessing item and task form from list or library

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4. Review the item

In this example, the item is a Microsoft Word document.

Tip: If this is a group task — that is, a single task assigned to a whole group or distribution list so that a single group member can complete the task for the whole group — then it’s a good idea to claim the task before you review the item. That way, you reduce the chance that another member of your group will also review the article. For instructions, see Section 7 in this segment, Claim and complete a group task.

Item for review open and showing yellow bars

Notice the two yellow message bars at the top of the document:

  • Server Read-Only   This document is open in read-only mode — that is, you can read the document, but you can’t make any changes in it.
    (Note that when completing an Approval workflow task, you don’t usually make any changes directly in the item itself. Instead, you use the task form to register all of your responses.)

  • Workflow Task   When you’re ready to register your response in the task form, click the Open this task button.

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5. Complete and submit the task form

The task form for an Approval workflow task looks something like this.

Workflow task form

Note that the first two items (Delete Item and This workflow task applies to Item Title) don’t appear in the task form when it’s opened from inside the item for review.

Callout number one

Delete Item

To delete this task from the current instance of the workflow, click this button.

  • Deleting the task doesn’t delete the item to be reviewed.

  • If you delete the task, that action functions as (and is recorded in the history as) a rejection of the document. So if the workflow is configured to end at the first rejection, then deleting the task ends the workflow.

  • A task that has been deleted no longer appears in the Tasks area of the Workflow Status page. (However, the deletion and the consequent automatic rejection are still recorded in the History area of the page.)

    Note: If you didn’t start this instance of the workflow, you might want to check with the person who did start it before you delete the task.

Callouot number two

This workflow task applies to Item Title

To open the item for review, click the link here.

Callout number three

Status, Requested By, Consolidated Comments, Due Date

You can’t edit or change entries in these four fields, but you might find the information in them useful.

Notice that the Consolidated Comments box contains not only any additional instructions on how to complete your task, but also all comments submitted by participants who have already completed their tasks in this same instance of the workflow.

In the same way, after you submit your own form, any comments that you include in the Comments box (4) will also appear in the Consolidated Comments box for subsequent participants.

Callout number four

Comments

Any text that you enter here will be recorded in the Workflow History and will also appear in the Consolidated Comments field (3) for subsequent participants.

Callout number 5

Approve

To approve the item, first type any comments that you want to contribute in the Comments field (4), and then click this button.

Callout number six

Reject

To reject the item, first type any comments that you want to contribute in theComments field (4), and then click this button.

Callout number seven

Cancel

To close the task form without saving any changes or responses, click this button. The task will remain incomplete and assigned to you.

Callout number eight

Request Change

To request a change to the item that you’re reviewing, click this button.

For an illustration of the form where you’ll enter the details of your request, and for further instructions, go to section 8 in this segment, Request a change to the item.

Note: This option might be turned off for some workflow tasks.

Callout number nine

Reassign Task

To reassign the Approval task to someone else, click this button.

For an illustration of the page where you’ll enter the details of the reassignment, and for further instructions, go to section 7 in this segment, Reassign the Approval task to someone else.

Note: This option might be turned off for some workflow tasks.

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6. Overdue notifications

If either a task or an entire workflow instance is overdue for completion, notifications are automatically sent to:

  • The person to whom the task is assigned

  • The person who started the workflow (or, if the start was automatic, to the person who originally added the workflow)

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7. Claim and complete a group task (optional)

If only a single task is assigned to an entire group that you belong to, then any member of the group can claim and complete that single task on behalf of the whole group.

Claim the task before you review the item. As soon as you claim the task, it’s assigned to you, and no other member of the group can complete it. (This way, only one person does the necessary work.)

  1. On the Workflow Status page, point to the name of the task assigned to your group until an arrow appears

  2. Click the arrow, click Edit Item and then, in the task form, click the Claim Task button.
    How to claim a group task

When the Workflow Status page is refreshed, you can see that the task is no longer assigned to the group, but specifically to you.

Later, if you want to release the task to the group again without completing it, use the same steps to return to the task form, but now click the Release Task button.

Release Task button on task form

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8. Request a change to the item (optional)

Before you begin this process, note that the workflow may be set up to end immediately if any change is made to the item. It might be a good idea to check with the person who started or originally added the workflow, to make sure that it’s all right for a change to be made and for the workflow to end at that point.

We’ll demonstrate the change-request option by putting it into a scenario:

First, imagine that your name is Frank.

Then, imagine that a coworker named Anna has started an Approval workflow on a document that she has created.

When you review Anna’s new document, you feel that the Introduction is too long.

You click the Request Change button at the bottom of the workflow task form, and then complete this form.

Form for requesting change in item

Callout number one

Request Change From

Enter the name or email address of the person you’re requesting the change from.

(To send your request to the person who started this run of the workflow — or, if the workflow started automatically, to the person who originally added this Approval workflow — you can also leave this field blank.)

Callouot number two

New Request

Describe the change that you want made, and supply any information that the person making the change will need. (Any text that you enter here will be added in the Consolidated Comments area.)

Callout number three

New Duration

Do one of these three things:

  • To keep the existing due date    Leave this field blank.

  • To remove the due date entirely    Type the number 0.

  • To specify a new due date    Type a number here and then specify the duration units in the following field. Taken together, the two entries identify the period before the change task is due.

Callout number four

New Duration Units

If you’re specifying a new task duration, use this field in conjunction with the New Duration field to identify the period before the task is due. (For example: 3 Days or 1 Month or 2 weeks.)

When you have all of the form entries the way that you want them, you click Send, and your current task is markedComplete. (But you’re not done yet. You’ll be assigned an approval task again after Anna completes the change task).

Meanwhile, Anna receives the following email notification:

Notification sent when change in item is requested

Anna can tell after just a glance at the Subject line (number 1 in the illustration) that this isn’t an ordinary Approval notification, but instead a request to change something about the item. She finds the information about the specific change that has been requested in the Change Requested of text (number 2).

Anna checks out the item, makes the requested changes, then saves her changes and checks the item back in.

Then she goes to the Workflow Status page and opens her change-request task from the Tasks area there.


Form submitted when requested change is complete

Anna adds any information she wants to in the Comments field, then clicks Send Response. The workflow performs two actions:

  • It marks Anna’s change request task as Complete.

  • It assigns a new approval task to you (with Anna’s comments added in the Consolidated Comments field) and sends you a notification about that task.

Sours: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/all-about-approval-workflows-078c5a89-821f-44a9-9530-40bb34f9f742
Introduction to Approval Workflows in SharePoint 2010

SharePoint workflows are pre-programmed mini-applications that streamline and automate a wide variety of business processes — from collecting signatures, feedback, or approvals for a plan or document, to tracking the current status of a routine procedure. SharePoint workflows are designed to save you time and effort, and to bring consistency and efficiency to tasks that you perform on a regular basis.

Comparison of manual process with automated workflow

This article is about the pre-programmed workflows that are included with SharePoint 2010, for which you select options in an association form when you add versions of them for use in lists, libraries, and whole site collections.

It’s also possible to make more extensive customizations of these included workflow types — and even to create your own custom workflows from scratch — by using SharePoint Designer and other applications. To learn more about those processes, see the article Introduction to designing and customizing workflows.

Meanwhile, in this article you’ll learn more about the whole set of included workflows.

If you prefer to skip straight to detailed instructions for a specific workflow, you’ll find links to each in the What’s Next section, which you can link to from the following table of contents.

What do you want to know?

What is a SharePoint workflow?

You probably already know what a flowchart is. It’s a graphical map of a process, with instructions about what happens at each step.

Workflow process

A SharePoint workflow is like an automated flowchart that takes a lot of the labor, guesswork, and randomness out of your standard work processes.

For example, look at the document approval-process in the illustration. Running this process manually can mean a lot of checking up and keeping track, forwarding documents and sending reminders — and each of those tasks has to be performed by you or by one or more of your colleagues. That means a lot of extra work and (maybe even worse) a constant stream of interruptions.

But when you use the SharePoint Document Approval workflow to run the process, all of that checking and tracking and reminding and forwarding is done by the workflow, automatically. If someone is late in completing a task, or if some other hitch arises, most of the included workflows generate a notification to let you know about it. Nobody in the group has to proactively monitor the process — because with a SharePoint workflow, the process is always proactively monitoring itself.

And running a SharePoint workflow is easy. You just choose the workflow type you want, specify the options that will work best in your situation, then let SharePoint take over. And of course, you can cancel or terminate a workflow whenever you need to.

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What processes can I automate by using a SharePoint workflow?

Each of the workflow types included with SharePoint acts like a template. You add a version of the workflow for a single list or library, or for a whole site collection, using an initiation form to specify the options and selections that you want for this version — who the workflow assigns tasks to, task deadlines, how the workflow can be started and by whom, instructions to be included in the task notifications, and so forth.

SharePoint 2010 provides five pre-programmed workflow types

Note: With SharePoint Server 2010, and with SharePoint Online for Microsoft 365 for enterprises, all five of the following workflow types are included. With SharePoint Online for Microsoft 365 for small businesses and professionals, however, only the Three-state workflow type is included.

Approval (route a document or item for approval or rejection)

Check Mark An Approval workflow routes a document or other item to designated people for their approval or rejection.

You can also use an Approval workflow to control content approval in a list or library

To learn more, and for step-by-step instructions, see the article All about Approval workflows.

(There is also another, similar workflow type for use in web-publishing sites, the Publishing Approval workflow.)

Collect Feedback (route a document or item for feedback)

Collect Feedback Workflow A Collect Feedback workflow routes a document or other item to designated people for their feedback.

The Collect Feedback workflow consolidates all of the feedback from participants for the workflow owner and provides a record of the review process.

To learn more, and for step-by-step instructions, see the article All about Collect Feedback workflows.

Collect Signatures (route a document, workbook, or form for digital signatures)

Collect Signatures Workflow The Collect Signatures workflow routes a Microsoft Office document to designated people for their digital signatures.

Note that the Collect Signatures workflow functions only with Word documents, Excel workbooks, amd InfoPath forms.

To learn more, and for step-by-step instructions, see the article All about Collect Signatures workflows.

Disposition Approval (manage document expiration and retention)

Disposiiton Approval Workflow The Disposition Approval workflow is designed to support records management needs within an organization. This workflow manages the document expiration and retention process by allowing participants to decide whether to retain or delete expired documents or items.

When a Disposition Approval workflow starts, it creates Disposition Approval workflow tasks for specific documents and items in the tasks list for the workflow. Because it is likely that the Disposition Approval workflow may generate a high volume of tasks (especially if it is configured to start automatically when items expire), the Disposition Approval workflow offers support for bulk task completion, so that records managers or other authorized individuals can process a large number of items for deletion in a single step.

You can configure your Disposition Approval workflow to operate in collaboration with the Expiration policy feature of an information management policy, so that the workflow starts automatically each time a document or item on a site expires.

Three-State (track an issue, project, or task through three states or phases)

Three-State Workflow The Three-state workflow is designed to track the status of a list item through three states (phases). It can be used to manage business processes that require organizations to track a high volume of issues or items — customer support issues, sales leads, or project tasks, for example.

With each transition between states, the workflow assigns a task to a person and sends that person an e-mail alert about the task. When this task is completed, the workflow updates the status of the item and progresses to the next state. The Three-state workflow is designed to work with the Issue Tracking list template, but it can be used with any list that contains a Choice column that has three or more values.

To learn more, and for step-by-step instructions, see the article Use a Three-state workflow.

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Who can add and start a SharePoint workflow?

To add or start a workflow, you must have the correct permission for the list, library, or site collection where the workflow runs:

  • To add a workflow   By default, you must have the Manage Lists permission to add a workflow. (The Owners group has the Manage Lists permission by default; the Members group and the Visitors group do not.)

  • To start a workflow   Also by default, you must have the Edit Items permission to start a workflow that’s already been added. (The Members group and the Owners group both have the Edit Items permission by default; the Visitors group does not.)
    Alternatively, Owners can choose to configure specific workflows so that they can be started only by members of the Owners group.

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How do I add and run a SharePoint workflow?

The following diagram provides a high-level view of the basic stages for planning, adding, running, and modifying a SharePoint workflow. Individual sections on each of the steps follow.

Workflow Process

Plan Make sure that you know which options you want and what information you’ll need to have available when you use the intiation form to add your version of the workflow.

  • Learn    Find out which of the included workflow types will do the job that you want done.

  • Add    Fill out the initiation form to add your workflow version to a list, library, or site collection.

  • Start    Start your new workflow, either manually or automatically, on a document or other item in a list or library. (If you start it manually, you’ll have the opportunity to change some of the workflow’s association form settings on a briefer initiation form.) When the workflow starts, it creates tasks, sends notification messages, and begins to track actions and events.

  • Monitor    While the workflow is running, you can view the Workflow Status page to see which tasks are complete and what other actions have occurred. If necessary, you can adjust current and future tasks from here, and even cancel or terminate this workflow run.

  • Review    When the run is complete, its whole history can be reviewed on the Workflow Status page. Also from the status page, statistical reports on the general performance of this workflow can be created.

  • Change    If the workflow isn’t working quite like you want it to, you can open the original association form that you used to add it, and make your changes there.

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Can I create custom SharePoint workflows of my own?

If you need more flexibility with a built-in workflow, you can customize it further with a tool like SharePoint Designer,. You can also create your own original workflow from scratch.

Using the Workflow Designer, you create rules that associate conditions and actions with items in SharePoint lists and libraries. Changes to items in lists or libraries trigger actions in the workflow.

For example, you could design a workflow that launches an additional approval workflow, if the cost of an item exceeds a specific amount.

You can also define a workflow for a set of related documents. For example, if your workflow is associated to a document library, or if it is filtered to the Document content type, a group of contextual Document Set actions appear. A Document Set is a new feature in SharePoint Server 2010 that allows a group of documents to be treated as a single unit, so a workflow action for a Document Set will run on each of the items in that Document Set.

For more information, see Introduction to designing and customizing workflows.

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What’s Next?

View any of the following articles for more detailed instructions on working with the included workflow types:

And if you’re interested in making additional customizations to any of the basic included workflow types — beyond what you can do by using the association form, that is — or if you want to build your own original workflow from the ground up, see the article Introduction to designing and customizing workflows.

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Sours: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/about-the-workflows-included-with-sharepoint-d9c46b8a-9835-4076-b5d3-6412ce4ca0dc

2010 sharepoint approval document workflow

Org Chart

In this tutorial, we will see a few SharePoint workflow examples, and also, we will check some SharePoint designer workflow examples. You will get to know how to work with designer workflow from these sharepoint workflow examples.

Create a document approval workflow in SharePoint 2013

Now let us see, how to create a document approval workflow in SharePoint 2013 or SharePoint Online using the out of box feature.

Here I have a SharePoint document library and I want when a user uploads a document to the document library, it will go for approval and once the document got approved then the document should appear in the document library.

If the approval got rejected then it should not show the document in the SharePoint document library.

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Create a document approval workflow in SharePoint 2013

We will use here the default our of box approval workflow which is presented in SharePoint 2013. If you are not able to see all the default workflows when trying to add a workflow in the browser then check out an article on Not able to see all out-of-box workflows in SharePoint 2013 Online Sites.

First, create a document library using the standard document library app template. Here my document library name is “MyTestDocLib”.

Then in the next step, we will enable the content approval for the library. For this Open your library got to the library settings. On the Settings page, click on Versioning settings under General Settings.

In the Versioning Settings page, select the Yes radio button in the Content Approval section. Then in the Document Version History section select radio button “Create major and minor (draft) versions”.

Then in the Draft, Item Security section, select the radio button “Only users who can approve items (and the author of the item)”. Then click OK as shown in the fig below:

create a document approval workflow in sharepoint 2013

After this open the document library to create the document approval workflow. Then From the Ribbon click on the LIBRARY tab and then go to the Settings section on the right side, then Click on Workflow Settings -> Add a Workflow.

create document approval workflow sharepoint

This will open the Add a Workflow page. Here Select the workflow template as Approval – SharePoint 2010. Then give a unique name for the Workflow. Then select your Task List, Workflow History list. Then in the Start Options, choose the options on which you want the workflow to be started.

Here select the “Start this workflow to approve publishing a major version of an item” radio button. To allow users to manually approve an item I have selected this radio button also “Allow this workflow to be manually started by an authenticated user with Edit Item permissions“. See the fig how it looks.

how to create document approval workflow in sharepoint 2016

Then click on Next. Then on the next screen, it will allow you to assign Approvers, Due date for a task, comments for approvers, etc. So in the next screen customize something like below:

You can put the approver and also you can put some comments on the approver. Make sure you checked the checkbox “End on first rejection”, so that when the item goes rejected it will end there. Then click on Save.

how to create a document approval workflow in sharepoint 2013

Now the workflow is successfully attached to the document library. You should be able to see like below:

create document approval workflow in sharepoint

Now let us go to the Document library and upload a document to it. The item will be available to the creator and the person who has permission to manage lists and libraries can see it. For other users, the item will not be available.

When a user uploads a document, an email will be triggered to the person you have configured in the workflow. When a user opens the email, S/He can open the task by clicking on the task title or from the Open this Task button from the Ribbon in the email.

Due to some constraints, I will not able to show you the email, here I am directly opening that task. When you open the task, you will be able to see a screen like below, where you can Approve, Reject, Cancel, etc.

create approval workflow in sharepoint

Once you approve the document will appear for everyone who has read access to see the SharePoint 2013 document library.

This is how to create a document approval workflow in SharePoint using SharePoint out-of-box features.

Create SharePoint reusable workflow

In this example we will see is about SharePoint reusable workflow. Let us see, how to create a reusable workflow using SharePoint designer 2013.

SharePoint Reusable workflows are not bound to any particular list, rather you can associate with one or more than one list or document libraries.

We can use SharePoint Designer to create a reusable workflow, apart from reusable workflow we can also create a list workflow and site workflow using SharePoint designer 2013.

One advantage of SharePoint designer 2013 is that now you can Save any workflow (SharePoint 2013 Workflow platform type) as a template and you can deploy that to other sites.

Create SharePoint Reusable Workflow using SharePoint Designer 2013

Now, let us see step by step how to create a SharePoint reusable workflow using SharePoint designer 2013.

Open your SharePoint 2013 site using SharePoint designer 2013, Then from the Ribbon click on the Reusable Workflow button presented in the Ribbon. This will open the Create Reusable Workflow dialog box.

Enter a Name and Description for the workflow. Remember to choose the SharePoint 2013 Workflow from the Platform Type.

sharepoint workflow examples

This will open the workflow text-based designer, you can add your logic in the workflow. Here I have just added a Log to History List Action to the workflow.

Once you add click on the message link in the action which will open a dialog box to choose the fields from the Current Item. Since it is not attached to any list or document library, not it is a list workflow, only the default columns will appear as shown in the fig below.

Here I have to log the Current Item Title field to the Workflow history list.

sharepoint designer workflows

In the Transition to the stage, End the workflow. The workflow will look like below:

sharepoint designer workflows

Now Save and Publish the workflow. After successfully published, the workflow will be available on the SharePoint site to associate with various lists or libraries.

Attach SharePoint Reusable Workflow to a List or Library

Now to associate the reusable workflow to a list or document library, open your list or library in the browser. Then go to the List or library settings.

On the settings page click on “Workflow Settings” under the Permissions and Management tab.

This will open the Workflow Settings page. Here select This List from the Show workflow associations of this type. And then click on the Add a workflow link as shown in the fig below:

Designer workflow in sharepoint 2013

This will open the Add a Workflow page. From the Workflow select the Reusable workflow which we have created in the previous section. Give a name for the Workflow. Then in the Start Option select the “Creating a new item will start this workflow” checkbox. see the fig below:

SharePoint 2013 workflow

This will associate the reusable workflow with the SharePoint list. Now if you will add one item to the list and then check the History List then the Title of the item has been logged.

Associate Reusable Workflow from SharePoint Designer 2013

You can directly associate with a list or library from the SharePoint designer itself. Open the click on the Workflows from the Site Objects in the designer. This will open the list of workflows presented on the SharePoint site.

Go to the Reusable section and then select the Reusable workflow which we have created earlier.

Then from the Ribbon, Click on Associate to List button as shown in the fig below:

sharepoint online reusable workflow

Once you select the list, this will open the Add Workflow page in the browser. Follow the above steps to associate the workflow.

This is how to create, deploy, and associate a SharePoint reusable workflow to list or document library using SharePoint designer 2013.

App Step in SharePoint 2013 Designer Workflow

Here is another SharePoint designer workflow example that explains, App Step in SharePoint 2013 designer workflow.

If you have worked on or if you have used the “Impersonation Step” in the SharePoint designer 2010 workflow then surely you will need this step. Because “Impersonation Step” is deprecated in SharePoint Designer 2013. And in SharePoint 2013 designer workflows, we have to use App Steps.

SharePoint 2013 designer workflow runs under the permissions of the user who published the workflow. But the user may not have permission to do some elevated permissions task. In those cases, if you will not use elevated permissions then the workflow will fail.

In SharePoint 2010 we can achieve this by using the “Impersonation Step”. But in SharePoint 2013 Impersonation Step is deprecated and the alternative to this, we can use the App Step.

Any actions placed inside an App Step will have Read/Write permissions to all items on the site. Unlike the impersonation step, the advantages of the App Step are that we can run the step with elevated permissions at the required position in the workflow rather than having to have the whole workflow.

To use App Step, first, we need to activate the “Workflows can use app permissions” site feature. This feature allows workflows to read from and write to all the items on the site. You can go to Settings -> Site settings.

Then on the Site Settings page, click on “Manage site features” under the Site Actions section. In the “Site Features” page, search for the “Workflows can use app permissions” feature and click on “Activate” if it has not been activated.

App Step in SharePoint 2013 Designer Workflow

SharePoint Designer Workflow App Step Example

In this example, I have one list and when the user submits one item into the list, one item will be created on a different list. In the second list, only a few people will have access. So we have created one SharePoint 2013 list workflow in the first list.

We have used here Create item in a List action. We choose here the second list name and the value of the Title field we are putting in the second Title list Title. See fig below:

SharePoint workflow app step

So our workflow looks like below:

app step in sharepoint 2013 workflow

Here two different users added an item to the list, First user has Contribute access to the second list. When this user added an item to the first list, workflow triggers and completed it successfully. Also, it created one item in the second list.

But when another user added an item to the list, the workflow started but it went to a suspended state. Because the user has only read access to the second list.

sharepoint 2013 workflow impersonation step

Now I have changed the workflow and added an App Step and added the Create Item… workflow section inside the App Step. Looks like fig below:

sharepoint 2013 workflow impersonation step

Now when you publish the workflow, it will ask for a confirmation dialog box like below:
By publishing this workflow, conditions and actions inside App Steps will run using only application credentials. Only continue if this is the intended behavior“. It looks like below:

sharepoint 2013 workflow impersonation step

Then go to the workflow settings and uncheck “Automatically update the workflow status to the current stage name” like below:

app step in sharepoint 2013 workflow

Impersonation step missing in SharePoint 2013 Workflow

Here we will discuss the issue “Impersonation step missing in SharePoint 2013 Workflow“. The impersonation step is the concept of SharePoint 2010 and the workflow action was available in SharePoint designer 2010.

But this action is not available in SharePoint 2013 workflow platform.

A SharePoint designer workflow runs under the permission of the user who started the workflow. But in some steps, the workflow may require the user to have some more permission. If elevated permissions are not used in those steps then the workflow will not work with access denied error.

In those cases in SharePoint 2010 “Impersonation step” was helpful. But in SharePoint 2013 a similar step is available known as “App Step”. Any actions placed inside an App Step will have Read/Write permissions to all items in the site, such as site lists.

Let us say we have a requirement like below:

I have two document libraries and if a user uploads one document to one library, I want the document to be copied to my second document library. But as per my requirement, I can not provide contribute access to anyone except a few people into my second document library. But you need to contribute access to copy item.

In the above kind of requirement, we can use the app step and we can add the copy document activity inside the App Step.

If you are not able to see the “App Step” inside SharePoint 2013 designer workflow then make sure the below feature is activated like below:

  • Workflows can use app permissions
Impersonation step missing in SharePoint 2013 Workflow

If it is not activated, activate it and then open SharePoint 2013 designer. You should be able to see the app step in the SharePoint designer workflow.

Now after this when the user has read access to the second list added one item in the first list, workflow triggers, and completed successfully.

Impersonation step in SharePoint 2010 designer workflow

Let us see another SharePoint designer workflow example. Here we will also see one example of how we can use the impersonation step in SharePoint designer 2010 workflow.

The impersonation step has been replaced as App Steps in SharePoint designer 2013 workflow.

Impersonation step in SharePoint 2010 designer workflow

By default, a workflow runs using the permissions of the user who started the workflow. But suppose you want to delete an item from a list in the workflow. But maybe the user who started the workflow may not have sufficient permission to delete an item from the list. So, in that case, it will give an access denied error message.

So here in this type of situation, we need to use the impersonation step. Impersonation steps run with the permissions of the person who last saved the workflow.

This enables a person running a workflow to perform actions within impersonation steps that their permissions would not otherwise allow.

Below is the way you can add an impersonation step to the designer workflow:

Open your SharePoint workflow and from the Ribbon select Impersonation Step from the Ribbon as shown in the figure below:

Impersonation step in SharePoint designer 2010 workflow

The above step will add the Impersonation step section to the workflow like below. In that block, you can add your workflow Actions.

Impersonation step in SharePoint 2010 designer workflow

This is how to use impersonation steps in SharePoint designer 2010 workflow.

Create approval workflow in SharePoint 2010 designer

Let us see, how to create an approval workflow using SharePoint designer 2010 in SharePoint 2010. Learn step by step how to create approval workflow in SharePoint 2010 using SharePoint designer.

Create approval workflow in SharePoint designer

I am using SharePoint foundation 2010 and there is no option for Approval workflow as a SharePoint foundation 2010. So here we create the Approval workflow using “Collect data from a user” action instead of “Start approval process” action to complete the approval task for SharePoint foundation 2010. For this follow these steps:

  • Open the SharePoint Designer 2010 and connect to your SharePoint 2010 site.
  • Click Workflows and select the workflow type you need, for this, I am using reusable workflow with All content types as my scope.
  • From the workflow ribbon select Actions “collect Data from user”. See in fig
sharepoint approval workflow 2010
  • This will show you the Action in the workflow editor. See in fig
approval workflow sharepoint 2010
  • Now Clicking on data will allow you to create the custom task by starting the task wizard, open the wizard and click Next.
  • You will need to specify a Task name, and you can specify a description. For now, let’s call the task “Review Task”. And click Next. See in fig
approval workflow sharepoint 2013
  • Now you can specify the custom field by clicking add and select the field type, I will specify two field: Approved as a choice with Yes/No and Comment as a text area.
  • Now it should be looking like this, with both fields listed. See in fig
approval workflow sharepoint online
  • After finishing creating the Task, getting the user as an Approver, Click on this user and select the People/Groups. See in fig
approval workflow sharepoint designer 2013
  • Now add a condition (if any value equals value) from workflow ribbon.
  • Click the first value, and then click Fx, there goes to a pop-up window, enter as below see in fig
approval workflow sharepoint 2013
sharepoint 2010 approval workflow email notification
  • Set another value to “Yes”.
  • Now add the action “set workflow status”, Set it to approval.
  • Add an If-Else branch, set the workflow status to reject.
  • Now see the whole workflow. See in fig
approval workflow sharepoint 2010
  • Publish the workflow, and use it for the approval purpose.
  • Now when you associate with a list and add the item in the list the workflow status is in progress. See in fig.
sharepoint approval workflow 2010
  • Now when app-rover approve with select the value Yes (See in fig) workflow status is Approved and if select the value No than workflow status is Reject. See in fig.
sharepoint designer approval workflow 2010
sharepoint document approval workflow 2010

This is how to create SharePoint approval workflow 2010 using SharePoint designer 2010.

SharePoint Workflow Errors and Fixes

Let us check out a few SharePoint workflow errors and fixes.

Workflow failed to start cancelled by system account SharePoint 2013

Let us see, how to fix the SharePoint 2013 designer workflow error which shows as Workflow Cancelled: Workflow <name> was canceled by System Account.
Error: <Workflow Name> failed to start.

In the particular case, we have migrated few SharePoint designer workflows from MOSS 2007 to SharePoint 2013. And when we run the workflows in SharePoint 2013, it gives the above error. If you will go and see the workflow status for each item, you will see something like below:

workflow was canceled by system account

Workflow canceled failed to start

The below solution worked for us.

We saw the workflow was published by the System Account. So we open the designer in another account (full control), just republish the workflow again to the SharePoint 2013 site.

And it worked for us. Basically, we should not publish SharePoint designer 2013 workflow with System Account.

This is how to resolve Workflow canceled failed to start SharePoint 2013 designer workflow error.

SharePoint designer cannot display the item

Let us see, how to fix error, SharePoint Designer cannot display the item in SharePoint 2013/2016/Online that comes when we try to edit a workflow in SharePoint 2013 designer.

The workflows were migrated from moss 2007 to SharePoint 2013 using database upgrade approach. Those workflows were in the 2010 platform.

When I try to edit or view the workflow using SharePoint 2013 designer, it was giving the below error:

SharePoint designer cannot display the item.

sharepoint designer cannot display the item

We tried opening the same workflow in some other system and it opened correctly.

Then we clear SharePoint 2013 designer cache and it worked for us. Before doing this make sure to close SharePoint 2013 designer.

Delete everything but below folders:

Now Restart the SharePoint designer 2013 and try to open the SharePoint workflow. It should work fine.

This is how to fix the SharePoint Designer cannot display the item error which comes while editing workflows using SharePoint designer 2013.

In this SharePoint designer tutorial, we saw a few examples of SharePoint designer workflows.

  • Create a document approval workflow in SharePoint 2013
  • Create SharePoint reusable workflow
  • App Step in SharePoint 2013 Designer Workflow
  • SharePoint Designer Workflow App Step Example
  • Impersonation step missing in SharePoint 2013 Workflow
  • Impersonation step in SharePoint 2010 designer workflow
  • Create approval workflow in SharePoint 2010 designer
  • SharePoint Workflow Errors and Fixes
  • Workflow failed to start cancelled by system account SharePoint 2013
  • SharePoint designer cannot display the item
310f1879cff65a2b2a90b60b14dfce79?s=100&r=g

Bijay Kumar

I am Bijay from Odisha, India. Currently working in my own venture TSInfo Technologies in Bangalore, India. I am Microsoft Office Servers and Services (SharePoint) MVP (5 times). I works in SharePoint 2016/2013/2010, SharePoint Online Office 365 etc. Check out My MVP Profile.. I also run popular SharePoint web site SPGuides.com

Sours: https://www.enjoysharepoint.com/sharepoint-workflow-examples/
How to Create an approval workflow in SharePoint Designer 2010
Org Chart

In this SharePoint workflow tutorial, we will discuss the Approval workflow in SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint 2013 and an example of approval workflow in SharePoint online. Also, we will learn how to add, attach and trigger an approval workflow in SharePoint online list?

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What is Workflow in SharePoint?

By using the workflow we can automate business processes and can save time, effort, and money. Workflow is a very useful feature in SharePoint and used by small, medium, and large organizations to automate business tasks.

Example:

Approve Document:

Suppose in your organization, An Employee needs to submit a Document which will approve by various people like your Manager, Author etc. Then here by using the Workflow, we can easily automate the whole approval process where the user and as well as approver will get an Email notification in each and every step of the task and also can approve their tasks.

Different types of Out Of Box Workflow in SharePoint Online

There are 5 different Out Of Box Workflows are present in SharePoint Online/SharePoint 2016 and as well as in SharePoint 2013.

The 5 different Workflow templates are given below-

  1. Approval Workflow
  2.  Collect Feedback Workflow
  3. Collect Signatures Workflow
  4. Publishing Approval Workflow
  5. Three-State Workflow

Approval Workflow

The approval workflow is one of the features in SharePoint Online, SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint 2013. In this Approval workflow, Here the items and documents are stored in the list which will share between one or more people for their approval. Read more: Approval Workflow in SharePoint Online with an example

Collect Feedback Workflow

Collect Feedback is a Workflow template in SharePoint Online, SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint 2013. This Collect Feedback Workflow is used to collect the feedback for the document from the various users and also it sends to the initiator who created the list. Here in this Collect Feedback, Each user can see the 3 options which are mentioned below-

  • Send feedback
  • Request change
  • Reassign task

Read SharePoint workflow examples: Collect Feedback Workflow

Collect Signatures Workflow

In the Collect Signature Workflow, Here the documents are stored in a list which is used to share with one or more people for collecting their signature. That means it is the Workflow template which is used to designated people for their digital signatures in SharePoint Online, SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint 2013.

Publishing Approval Workflow

Publishing Approval Workflow is a Workflow template in SharePoint Online, SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint 2013 where the content will be Share to subject matter expert or stakeholder for their review and approve. In the publishing workflow, we can’t add a new content until any pending one is not approved by the SharePoint approver.

In Publishing Approval Workflow, Whenever a task is assigned to a user, it will have the below options:

  • Approve item
  • Reject item
  • Request Change in item
  • Reassign task

Three-State Workflow

The Three-state workflow is a Workflow which is used to designed to track the status of a list item through three states (phases). It can be used to manage business processes that require organizations to track a high volume of issues or items.

In the Three-State workflow, Suppose a task is assigning to a person and that person is getting an e-mail notification about the task. After the task is completed, the workflow ends and it updates the status of the item. Then after it progresses to the next state of Workflow. Read: Three State Workflow in SharePoint with Example

How to create and attach an Approval Workflow in SharePoint Online?

Here we can create an Approval Workflow in SharePoint Online Site by using these below steps-

Step-1:-

In Approval Workflow, First of all, We have to create a Document Library whereas I created named as “CompanyWorkflowDocuments“. In that Document Library, Upload some documents like below.

approval workflow in sharepoint designer

Step-2:-

Here I want to attach an Approval Workflow in this List/Library named as “CompanyWorkflowDocuments“. For attaching the Approval Workflow, Go to the “LIBRARY” which is present at the top of the Library. Then go to the “Workflow Settings” which is present in the ribbon, Click on “Workflow Settings” like below screenshot.

approval workflow in sharepoint designer 2013

Step-3:-

In this Workflow Settings, Select the workflow association type whatever you want whereas I selected “This List”. Then click on “Add a Workflow” for adding the Approval Workflow.

sharepoint 2010 approval workflow examples

Step-4:-

Here in this Workflow Settings, In the “Workflow“, Select the Workflow template as “Approval-SharePoint 2010“. Give a Unique name for this workflow whereas I was giving “DocumentApprovalWorkflow”.

Then in the “Task“, Select the “New Task List” where you use with this workflow and if you want to create a task list with any existing one then here you can select any one of the List names which will mention in the drop down.

In the “History List“, Select a History List whereas I selected “Workflow History“. If you want to create a new history workflow then select the “New history list“.

In the “Start Options”, It specifies how the workflow can be started. Here if you want to start the Workflow as “manually” then select the checkbox as “Allow this workflow to be manually started by an authenticated user with Edit item permissions“. If you require permissions to start the Workflow then select “Require Manage Lists Permissions to start the Workflow“.

Similarly, If you want to start the Workflow as “automatically“, Then select the checkbox as “Creating a New Item will start this workflow“. That means when the new item will be created, then the workflow will start automatically.

If you want to start the workflow while the item will be changing, Then select the checkbox as “Changing an Item will start this workflow“.

Then click on to “Next” as like below screenshot.

start approval process sharepoint designer 2010
create approval workflow in sharepoint designer 2010

Step-5:-

In this Workflow Settings, Within the “Approvers“, Enter the names of the people to whom the workflow will assign tasks. You can enter one or more than one number of a user. Then select the “Order” whatever you want.

If you want to assign the Workflow tasks to user one at a time that means serially or one after another, then select “One at a time(serial)”. Here I entered “One at a time” because I need it will assign the task one at a time. If you want to assign the Workflow tasks to the user all at once that means parallel, then select “All at once(parallel)”.

In the “Expand Groups“, check the checkbox as “For each group entered, assign a task to every individual member and to each group that it contains”. That means for each group, the task is assigning to every individual member.

In the “Request“, you can type any message which will be sent to the task assigned people whereas I gave “Each time a new item is added to the library“.

You can give the Due Date for All Tasks by using the calendar which is present in the “Due Date for All Tasks” where I have given as “7/30/2018”.

In “Duration Per Task“, Here give an amount of time till the task is due which can be taken as Units whereas I have given as “5”.

Duration Units” is used for units of the time used by the duration per task. So you can define the Units as “Day(s)”, “Week(s)” and “Month(s)”.

In the “CC”, You can notify the people when the workflow starts and ends without assigning tasks to them.

In “End on First Rejection“, Here if you want to the document will be rejected automatically if it is rejected by any participant then select the checkbox as “Automatically reject the document if it is rejected by any participant”.

In “End on Document Change“, If you want to reject the document automatically if it is changed before the workflow is completed then check the checkbox as “Automatically reject the document if it is changed before the workflow is completed”.

In “Enable Content Approval“, if you want to update the Approval Status after the Workflow is completed then check the checkbox as “Update the approval status after the workflow is completed”.

Then click on to “Save” for saving the Workflow Settings page.

create approval workflow in sharepoint designer 2013 step by step

Step-6:-

After saving the “Workflow Settings” page, An Email will go to the assigned person whom the task is assigned. Then go to the List or Library which you have already created before whereas I created “CompanyWorkflowDocuments”.

In that List, You can see the column as “DocumentApprovalWorkflow” where your task status is updating. Here you can see in the below screenshot, my item is now “In Progress”.

sharepoint 2013 approval workflow multiple approvers

How to check your Approval Workflow in SharePoint Library?

We can check the Approval Workflow Task Status in a Library by using below steps-

Step-1:-

Here if you want to check the status of a particular item in a Library, Then select that particular item. Click on “FILES” which is present at the top of the ribbon. Then click on “Workflows“.

sharepoint 2013 approval workflow with dynamic approvers

Step-2:-

Here in this Approval Workflow Customization, Click on the “DocumentApprovalWorkflow” or “In Progress”. So that we can see the running Workflow Status of that particular Item.

sharepoint 2013 approval workflow step by step

Step-3:-

In this “Approval Workflow Status“, Here we can see the task status of that particular item like the below screenshot where there is present of “DocumentApprovalworkflow Task Status” and as well as the status of “Workflow History“.

Here in this graph, It is presenting that the current task is assigning to “Bijay Sahoo” for approval. We can see the status as “In Progress” condition in the below screenshot.

document approval workflow sharepoint 2010
sharepoint approval workflow

Various Options of Task in SharePoint

There is the various number of tasks are present in SharePoint Online, SharePoint 2016 and as well as in SharePoint 2013. The Task Options are given below-

  1. Approve
  2. Reject
  3. Cancel
  4. Request Change
  5. Reassign Task

1. Approve:

This “Approve” task option is used for accepting the task of a User or Employee. This means if the task is approved by the Manager or any Author, then it will go to the next stage or next person for his/her approval. Then the user or employee will get an Email that his/her task has been approved by Manager and it will go to the next person for approving. So like this, the workflow will continue at each stage of the task.

2. Reject:

This “Reject” task option is used for dismissing or unaccepting the task of a User or Employee. This means if the task is dismissed or unaccepted by the Manager or any other person, then it will not go to the next stage or next person for his/her approval. Then the user or employee will get an Email that his/her task has been rejected by Manager and it will not go to the next person for approving. So the workflow will end there.

3. Cancel:

In this “Cancel” task option, If you click the “cancel” button, then all tasks will be cancelled and workflow will be moved to the next step after the task and it will be Terminated. Here, The task which was Approved those outcomes remains “Approved” the task whose status is “Not Started” will be cancelled.

4. Request Change:

In this “Request Change” task option, It specifies that a new task is created for the person you indicated and your task will b completed. After completing the task, an Email notification will go to the person whom you are requesting. If the “Request Change Form” field is left blank, then the change request will be sent to the person who started the workflow.

How the “Request Change” Task option works in Approval Workflow?

Step-1:

Go to the “DocumentApprovalWorkflow Task Status” and then there click on to the “Please approve Sharepoint list filter” or “SharePoint list filter” of user1 where the status is “Not Started“. You can follow by the below screenshot.

build approval workflow in sharepoint designer

Step-2:

After clicking the “SharePoint list filter“, A request change form will appear where the status will be “Not Started“. Give the name of the person who is requesting whereas I have given “Preeti Sahu”.

There is a “Consolidated Comments” present which it shows the details of requested person name, date and as well as the time of requesting. You can give the “Due date” and type the comments also. The comments or message will be included in your response.

Then click on to “Request Change” button.

approval workflow in sharepoint

Step-3:

Here in this form, Enter the name of the person to request a change from. If you left the field is blank, then the change request will be sent to the person who started the workflow. If you want to put the new request, then you can put in the “New Request” field. In the “New Duration“, You can give the amount of time until the task is due. Here you can give the “New Duration Units“.

Then click on to “Send” for sending the change request to the person whom you requested. After sending the form, He/She will get an Email notification that the request is changed from the requester.

sharepoint online approval workflow

Step-4:

After sending the request, you can see the task status as “In Progress“. Here you can see the visualization that the current Request Change task is assigning to “Padmini Kumari” which you can see in the below figure.

In the “Task” option, You can see the current task is assigning to “Padmini” which is not started. In the “Workflow History” also, you can see the history of that current task status that requester has requested a change to the requested person.

outlook approval workflow
microsoft flow document approval workflow

5. Reassign Task:

Reassign Task” option is used for assigning the task from one person to another person. That means it specifies that if you are unable to do the current task at the right time due to any reason, Then you can reassign that task to another person who can do this current task.

After reassigning the task to another person, He/She will get an Email notification that He/She is going to complete the reassigned task.

How the “Reassign Task” options works in Approval Workflow?

Step-1:

Go to the “DocumentApprovalWorkflow Task Status” and then there click on to the “Please approve html doc” or “html doc” of Padmini Kumari where the status is “Not Started”. You can follow by the below screenshot.

how to use sharepoint designer 2013 with office 365

Step-2:

After clicking the “HTML doc”, A Reassign Task Form will appear where the status will be “Not Started“. Give the name of the person who is requesting whereas I have given “Preeti Sahu”.

There is a “Consolidated Comments” present which it shows the details of requested person name, date and as well as the time of requesting. You can give the “Due date” and type the comments also. The comments or message will be included in your response.

Then click on to “Reassign Task” button.

sharepoint 2013 approval workflow with dynamic approvers from another list

Step-3:

Here in this form, Enter the name of the person whom you want to reassign the task. If you left the field is blank, then the task assign will be sent to the person who started the workflow. If you want to put the new request, then you can put in the “New Request” field. In the “New Duration“, You can give the amount of time until the task is due. Here you can give the “New Duration Units“.

Then click on to “Send” for sending the reassign the task to the person whom you assigned. After sending the form, He/She will get an Email notification that the task is assigned from the requester.

sharepoint 2013 list item approval workflow

Step-4:

Here in the “Task” option, You can see the current task is reassigning to “LakshmiNarayan K” which is not started. In the “Workflow History” also, you can see the history of that current task status is reassigning from “Preeti Sahu” to “LakshmiNarayan K”. You can see the below screenshot.

microsoft flow multiple approvers

Read some SharePoint workflow tutorials below:

  • Start a task process SharePoint designer 2013 workflow action
  • Copy Document SharePoint Designer 2013 Workflow Action
  • SharePoint designer workflow: Create Laptop Request Approval Workflow
  • SharePoint Designer 2013 Workflow: Do Calculation Action Example
  • SharePoint designer 2013 Workflow: Assign task to group using Assign a task workflow action
  • SharePoint Designer Workflow Declare item as record
  • SharePoint Designer 2013 Workflow: Create List Item Action with Example
  • SharePoint designer 2013 Workflow Condition: person is a valid sharepoint user with Example
  • SharePoint designer workflow examples : Steps to create a Leave Request SharePoint designer workflow in SharePoint Online

Conclusion

In this SharePoint workflow tutorial, we discussed the Approval workflow in SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint 2013 and an example of an approval workflow in SharePoint online. Here we discussed what is SharePoint workflow, How to add, attach and trigger an approval workflow in SharePoint online list.

310f1879cff65a2b2a90b60b14dfce79?s=100&d=mm&r=g

Bijay Kumar

I am Bijay from Odisha, India. Currently working in my own venture TSInfo Technologies in Bangalore, India. I am Microsoft Office Servers and Services (SharePoint) MVP (5 times). I works in SharePoint 2016/2013/2010, SharePoint Online Office 365 etc. Check out My MVP Profile.. I also run popular SharePoint web site EnjoySharePoint.com

Sours: https://www.spguides.com/approval-workflow-sharepoint/

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