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How To Start Using Microsoft Teams Approval Workflow (2023)

Today, we are going to take a first look at the Microsoft Teams approval workflow. When would you ever use an approvals app? Well, maybe you have a new cookie recipe and you need the president of your cookie company to sign off on all new recipes. You can use the approvals app for that. First off, we’re going to look at how you can both request and grant approval from directly within the app and then we will look at how you can do it from a chat or a channel. We will also look at how you can do it outside of the context of Microsoft Teams. Let’s say, for example, from SharePoint.

I want to show you how you can get the approvals app. There are two different ways you can get to it down in the bottom left hand corner, or we can click on the apps icon once this opens up.

This shows you all of the different apps that you can add to Microsoft Teams up in the top left hand corner. You can search for apps. Let’s type in approvals up here in the top left hand corner. We see a result for the new approvals app. You can click on it here.

microsoft teams approval workflow

Alternatively, we can also click on the ellipsis over on the navigation bar on the left hand side. You can also search for approvals and then click on it.

Let’s click on Approvals. This opens up the approvals app. If this is something that is going to be part of your daily workflow, you can also pin the approvals app so you have easy access to it. Over on the left hand side, you will now see an icon for approvals. If you right click on it, you can pin this app to your navigation bar.

Let’s take a moment to orient ourselves to the experience. Over on the left hand side, we see two separate categories. The first one is received and here I can see all of the approval requests for me so basically people want me to approve things.

And over here on the right hand side, also see a list of all of those requests on the left hand side. I can also see all of the approval requests that I have sent to others so basically, I want someone else to approve something for me.

Up above, there’s a hamburger icon. When I click on this, it hides all of those different categories and when I click on it again, it will show all of the categories over on the right hand side.

In this table, I can see some high level details of my request: title, current status, when it was created, who requested it and also who it was sent to. Now you will see in the status column that some of these are closed. Some of these need additional information and some of them are still pending.

I can apply a filter. If I only want to see the requested status, I can click on that to filter down my list.

If I want to see any additional details related to this request, I could simply double click on it.

This will show me the details and any attachments associated with this request.

Well, that’s a high level overview of the approvals interface, but I need to get some work done. I have been working on a new cookie recipe and I want our president to sign off on it so I figured out the new approvals app to see if that will move things along a little quicker. Up in the top right hand corner, I can kick off a new approval request. Let’s click on that.

This opens up a great new approval request dialog. Fill in all of the details of my request here at the top. I need to type in a name that is easy to understand so when the president sees it within her list, she quickly knows what it is so I came up with a new cookie, so just be straightforward. New cookies: Sriracha mint. Next, I need to enter the approver.

And like I said before, I need our president to sign off on it, so I will type in the president’s name (Patty as an example) and hopefully she gives me the go ahead. Now, I could also enter other names. Let’s say I wanted to put the director of our company in when I enter at least two names, this toggle allows me to select whether I just want a response from one of the approvers or from all of the approvers.

Now, in this case, I only need Patty to sign off on it so I will remove the director for now. I can also type in additional details. She will probably just look at the title here and then decide whether or not to go ahead just based on this but I might as well enter some additional details in case you want to read more about it.

I can also add an attachment to this approval request. I think attaching a photo of what these cookies look like will really help make the case. I will click on add attachment and I can upload a file from my computer when I click on this.

There’s one last question that we need to fill out before we can finalize our approval request, and that’s whether we want to use custom responses by default. If we leave this turned off, Patty will be able to approve the request, which I think she’s probably likely to do. Or she will be able to reject it now. Let’s say that we want to give her the opportunity to use other responses here. We could toggle this on and say, “Yes, this is a fantastic idea,” or we could have another customer response that simply says no. Now, right here, you’re limited to two custom responses.

If you use Power Automate, you can add even more custom responses. But we have to do that outside of teams. Later on in the post, I will show you how you can do that. For now, I simply want to use the default set, so I will toggle this off. Let’s go ahead now and send our approval request.

I can now see in my set list that I have a new request.

Again, I see all of the details. If I wanted to cancel it, I could click on cancel request down here.

Now, if I look at the current status, it looks like it’s pending with Patty. I’m really eager to see what she thinks of this amazing new recipe. I’m now in Patty’s account and she has a whole bunch of requests awaiting her approval. There are a few different ways that she can stay up to date on what needs her attention over on the left hand side of the navigation bar. Let’s click into activity, the approvals app, and rights to the activity feed.

Here you see my request for the new Saroja main cookie. Patty can also go back to the navigation bar and click on the Approvals app. And here, too, she also sees the approval request and by default, it pops it up to get her attention so she can look at this request right away. Sriracha men cookies. Oh, that sounds awful. I should just reject that right away. Oh, here’s a picture. I guess I could take a quick look. Hmm. These actually look pretty tasty.

I’ll probably at least give this a try. I mean, we do have a culture of experimentation. I will leave some comments here. The picture sold it. Keep going. All right. Let’s approve this.

Back within my interface, I can see my scent list. I can see that Patty reviewed the request and it looks like she approved this new cookie.

When I click on the request here, I can see that she just approved it. Down below, it looks like she said the picture sold it. It’s a good thing I know how Patty works. To create a new approval request, I don’t have to go through the approvals app.

I could also create one directly through a chat or from within a channel. We’ve set up a new channel for approvals here. I could kick off a new conversation and see an icon on the bottom here for approvals.

When I click on this, you will probably notice there’s a dialogue. It’s the same one as what we saw before. I’m quickly going to create an approval request. We’ve recently created a new employee benefit handbook and want to get Patti to sign off on it. I filled in all the details and I’m ready to go so let’s now click on Send here.

Now you see the new approval request show up in the conversation view of the channel.

Here are all of the details associated with this request. Back within Patti’s view. She can see the request and took a moment to review this new benefits handbook, and she doesn’t agree with a lot of the benefits so she’s going to click on View Details. Just like before, she could either reject or approve and she’s going to have to reject this one back. Now, within my view, I can see that Patty has rejected the new employee benefit handbook.

So far, we’ve been creating all of our approval requests directly in the context of Microsoft Teams. However, you can also connect to many other apps and services directly through the approval workflow. I want to connect SharePoint to the approval workflow. Here I am on a SharePoint site and we have a list of a whole bunch of fantastic marketing ideas. Now, ideally, any time a team member comes in here and they click on New to add a new idea, I want this to kick off an approval workflow.

To pull this off, we are going to access Power Automate on the office portal. Over on the left hand side, at the very bottom, there’s an icon for all apps. This will show all the different apps that you have access to. Let’s click on the one that says Power Automate. This opens up Power Automates. If you’ve never used Power Automate before, it allows you to automate business processes by connecting different apps and services to be able to create our flow over on the left hand side. Let’s click on the icon that says create.

This drops us on the create screen and there are many different types of flows that we can create. We want to create an automated cloud flow today. Basically, when someone adds a new item to SharePoint, Power Automate will detect that and then it will kick off the approval flow. Let’s click on this first icon. This opens up a prompt where I can build my automated cloud flow.

First, I need to give it a name and I will call this marketing idea needs approval. I can also choose the flow trigger. Basically, when this action happens, this will kick off the flow once again when someone adds an item to SharePoint. I want it to kick off so select this item. However, you can see that you can connect all sorts of different apps and services to kick off your flow. For now, let’s choose when an item is created and then click on create.

Next, enter some details related to the SharePoint site. Type the site address and I will type in the site address for our marketing team. Once I type that, I can also select the list name. When I click on this, we have two different lists associated with this SharePoint site and I want to use the marketing ideas list and click on the new step.

Next, choose an action that happens when a new SharePoint item is added down. I can search for different connectors to be able to leverage the approval workflow. Let’s simply type approvals and see the approvals app.

When I click on this, I will see all the different actions that I can take now. I want to start and wait for approval so I will click on this option.

I could enter the approval type. When I click on this, I can set it to the default of simply approve and reject or here.

I can select custom responses. If you remember earlier in the dialog, we can only enter up to two custom responses. By using Power Automate, we can enter as many as we want. Here, I want to enter in some custom responses, and I want at least one response. Patty is on point for approving so just one person is sufficient. I started off by typing in three different custom responses Patty, when she gets one of these requests, could either say yes, no or I need more information here. I could go in and add more options if I wanted, but I’m satisfied with these three.

I can enter the details of the approval request, starting with the title. I’m going to type in marketing idea needs approval. I will enter a colon and then over on the right hand side, I see different dynamic content that I can include as part of the title I want to include so I will select that and the marketing idea shows up here.

Next, indicate who I want to assign it to. I’m going to assign this to Patty our president and add other details, but for now, all of this looks good so click on save.

I did want to give a little taste of what you could do with Power Automate depending on the response that Patty chooses. You can have Power Automate take different actions. For example, let’s say that Patty says “yes.” You could have Power Automate kick off an email that says, “Please proceed with this marketing idea.” Or maybe Patty says, I need more information.” You can have Power Automate automatically send a message to the requester saying, “Please provide more information before I can approve.

We’re going to move forward with this now that I have finished creating my flow. If I want to see all of my different flows, over on the left hand side, click on my flows and here I see my new flow called “Marketing idea needs approval.”

Let’s test this out now to see how it works. I’m back on the SharePoint site and let me click to add a new idea. I’m pretty bullish on baking the world’s largest cookie. I think if we bake the world’s largest cookie, we will probably get a lot of press coverage which will drive a lot of interest. I’m really confident about this idea so I’m going to put it down and save it.

I’m now back in Patty’s view, and here you see a new approval request based on me adding an item in SharePoint.

When Patty clicks on this, she can view all of the approval request details and one of the really neat things down here at the very bottom is all of the custom options. She can choose yes, no, or I need more information, and we all know that baking the world’s largest cookie is as close as you can get to a slam dunk, so we’re going to go with yes and submit.

That’s how Microsoft Teams approval workflow works.

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which finding from today’s report did you find most interesting? Or maybe you have a question about something that I covered.

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.

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