How to work with approvals

Introduction #

The approvals module lets you easily approve documents and pages in the library of ISOPlanner. The selected users (approvers) are assigned a task in which they can approve or reject. In the most basic form, the process is as follows.

Approvals video

  1. Go to the library and select 1 or more items
  2. Click the Approvals button
  3. Select the user(s) who needs to approve and click Save
  4. Click the Send button
  5. Go to My Tasks and find the task with name ‘Approval: {name of the item}’
  6. Click the Approve or Reject button and click Save
  7. Go to the library and observe that the column ‘Latest approval’ has been populated

Items in the library in categories with type ‘URL’ or ‘Custom list’ cannot be approved.

You can do an easy test how this goes by sending an approval to yourself. After approval, go to library, click Approvals, go to the tab Sent at the top and delete the approval.

Next to the basic process, you can:

  1. Create approval templates with pre-defined approvers.
  2. Create a workflow that implements the approval process instead of using tasks in ISOPlanner. For example, use Microsoft Teams to get approval.
  3. Create a workflow that start the approval process when a page on SharePoint has been updated.

Initial approvals #

You might already have your documents approved or you are just started the process of creating your documents. In both cases, you don’t want to sent approvals yet but you might want to configure who is going to approve them when they are ready or updated. This is quite easy. Follow the same process but instead of clicking Send, click ‘Save as concept’. The column ‘Latest approval’ in the library is now populated and set to status Concept. When you are ready to send them, just select the items with this status (you can also filter on this status), click Approvals and click Send. We advise you to set the concept approvals first so that you can think about who needs to approve in one go.

Creating approvals #

To create a new approval, go to the library and select the items you want to approve. There are a few filters that help you determine which items to select.

  1. Not approved
  2. Needs new approval
  3. Concept

 

The filter ‘Not Approved’ selects all items that never had an approval or are in status Concept. This is handy for the initial implementation of the approval module. The filter ‘Needs new approval’ compares the last change date of the item on SharePoint against the date of the latest approval. If the item is modified later than the latest approval, the item is selected.

The filter Concept shows the items in this status which could indicate that the item has never been approved before but you can also create a new concept for example when someone else needs to approve the item in the future.

After applying a filter, select the items in the list and click the button Approvals.

In the next example, 3 items are selected.

You will notice that 2 of them already have the ‘Latest approval’ set. After clicking the button Approvals, you can select the approvers for the remaining (1) item.

After selecting a user and clicking Save, all 3 items have new approvers set in the column ‘New approvers’.

Now you can enter instructions if you want. For example: Please check chapter 2. You can also set a deadline for the task. Click Send if you are ready to send the approval requests to the users.

When you assign more users to 1 item, the final status will be:

  • Rejected when 1 of the users rejects
  • Approved when all of the users approve

Users that do not respond will be left in status Pending. To modify this behavior, implement a workflow. For example, use The Microsoft Teams Approval app which is very flexible and easy to integrate!

You can also edit the requests by adding new items (click button ‘Add from library’), removing items (button Remove) or edit the approvers (button Edit).

Checking the status of sent approvals #

You latest approval status is directly visible in the library in the column ‘Latest approval’. It can have the statusses:

  1. Pending (circle)
  2. Approved (green check)
  3. Rejected (red cross)
  4. Concept (grey clock)

 

The latest status also shows the date when the status was set and the approvers. When you hover over the item you can see these details per approver.

To check the approval history of an item, click the Approvals button and go to the tab Sent. Here you’ll find a list of all sent approvals. You can filter on various statusses and the name of an item. For example, search for ‘HR’ and sorting on the column ‘Requested’ shows all items in the library that has ‘HR’ in it. For these items, all historical approvals are shown, sorted by the date they were send.

You can edit the approval when it is not completed yet, otherwise the approval is marked as read-only because the integrity of the audit trail must be maintained. You can remove approvals for cases when something was send by accident or for testing.

Approving or Rejecting #

When the approval module is used without a workflow, ISOPlanner sends tasks to the approvers. They also receive an e-mail with a link to the task. Within the task, they can do the following:

  1. Open the item to approve
  2. Read the instructions
  3. Approve or Reject
  4. Enter a comment
  5. Schedule the task in their Outlook calendar

 

In the My Tasks view they can see all assigned approval requests.

 

After clicking on one they see the following view. Under ‘Item to approve’ there is a link to open the item to approve on SharePoint. The instructions that have been set with the approval request are shown below. Click either Approve or Reject and Save the finish the task. When Approve or Reject has not been clicked yet, the user can choose the ‘Save and schedule in the calender’ for later. A start date can be set as long as this date is before the deadline. Click the small Reset link to undo the choice to Approve or Reject in order to activate the scheduling feature again. In addition, a comment can be entered on the right, typically when de status is set to Rejected.

Click the Save button to finish the approval request. The result of the approval is now visible in the library in the columns ‘Latest approval’.

Resources #