Approval Flows

A SharePoint Flows tutorial by Peter Kalmström

Microsoft Flow iconNew or changed business documents must often be approved by someone else than the author before they are made available to more users. 

The approval process can be configured and managed in many different ways, and each organization should consider which is the best method for their specific situation.

In this article Peter Kalmström, CEO and Systems Designer, shows how a flow works with the SharePoint built-in approval status column compared with a custom column.

Approval options
In a few Tips articles in the SharePoint Workflows series, Peter Kalmström, CEO and Systems Designer suggests various ways to handle approvals of documents in SharePoint libraries. He shows how manage approvals without a workflow and how to use the built-in SharePoint workflow.

Peter also explains how you can enable approvals in a list or library and thus get an automatically created 'Approval Status' column, and he discusses advantages and drawbacks with this column.

If you have not studied these articles, we recommend you to do that before you decide on one of the Flows below.

Flow with the built-in 'Approval Status' column

In the first demo below, Peter shows how to use a flow template that sends an e-mail when a new item is added to a Procedures document library that has approvals enabled and thus an automatically added 'Approval Status' column.

NOTE: Microsoft has made a slight change of template name since the demo was recorded. The template is now called "Send approval email when a new item is added".

This flow is easy to create, and it gives a nice e-mail where items can be approved. But the flow only sends an e-mail to the approver and then one with the result to the author of the document.

This flow does not update the status in the document library, because currently the built-in Approvals column it cannot be combined with an "update item" action. This has to be done manually for each item.

Flow with a custom status column

If you can manage without the security given by the built-in 'Approval Status' column, we recommend using a custom column for approval status and expand the Flow so that this status column is updated automatically when an item has been approved or rejected.

In the demo below, Peter creates a custom column for approval status. Then he updates the Flow with an "update item" action that sets the status value to Approved if the selected option (Approve) is equal to Yes and to Rejected if the selected option is equal to No.

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