The Approvals feature allows account admins to set up "Approvers" with the ability to approve or deny submissions. When an end user submits a form, the approvers will be notified via email so they can review the submission and approve, deny or add notes for their team regarding the status of the submission.
Enabling Approvals on your Form
To enable Approvals on your form, go to the Settings tab > Approvals > enter the email address of the individual you would like to add as an approver. If the approver is already a user on your account, their account email will pre-populate as you are typing. If the approver does not have a Formstack account, then an account will be created when they are added as an approver. You may add as many approvers to a form as you'd like and you may remove them at any time.
Important note: If a new user account is created while being added to the Approval list, you may want to edit their permissions. By default, the new user will be given View-Only access to the submissions of the form associated with the approvals. You can edit the user permissions through the Form Settings tab > User Access OR by going to My Account > Users > click on the user in question to edit their permissions and settings.
If approvers are added to a form and later removed or deleted, then the Approval data and comments from that approver will also be removed from the Submissions tab. Please keep this in mind before deleting or editing your form approvers.
Adding Approver Logic
When an approver has been added to a form, you may also include logic for that approver that dictates under which circumstances they will be required to approve submissions. For example, you may only need a user to approve submissions if certain fields are selected or answered in a particular way. Fields eligible for approver logic include Select Lists, Checkboxes, Number or Radio Button fields.
In the example below, this approver need only be included in the Approval process if the form was submitted to the Sales Department. Multiple logic rules can be added for a user by clicking the green "+" symbol next to each logic line to add more.
Approver Email Settings
Approval Messages: If you create an Approval/Denial Email it is automatically “on." You can view these under the Settings > Emails & Redirects tab in the Notification Email section. The Approval messages are sent to the end user/submitter informing them that their Submission has been approved after all approvers have reviewed and approved the submission. You can customize this message by clicking the "Set up approval message" button and insert your messaging. You may also drop form variables into the message, including the approval message for added customization.
Denial Messages: These messages are sent to the end user/submitter if their submission is denied. You can create a custom denial message by clicking the "Set up denial message" button. Just like the Confirmation Emails, you can drop in form field variables, add your custom text and even include logos and images.
Note: Logic based on approval status will not work if the submission table is encrypted.
Notification Messages: Notification messages allow you to send a message to an email address (or addresses) that you set when a Submission is approved. You can create and customize this message by clicking the "Set up notification message" button.
Alternatively, you may opt to send a link to the submission, rather than send submitted data through email. This will require the approver to log into the app to view the submission and approve/deny. If you prefer to send a link referencing the submission, you can toggle this option under the "Approver Security Email Options" settings.
Approval Status in the Submissions Menu
Forms enabled with Approvals will have an "Approval Status" column added to the Submission tab view. In this view, you can see if a submission has been approved or denied. If the submission is waiting to be approved/denied by you, you can click the Approve/Deny buttons on the submission to update the status.
You can now approve or deny submissions in bulk as well. Check off all the submissions you'd like to update the status of then click 'Mark As' and choose 'Approved' or 'Denied'.
When viewing an individual submission, you can view additional details on the approval status as well as any notes relating to the submission or status that may have been left by members of your team.
If you have multiple approvers on a form, the form/account admins have the option to skip an approver when needed. To activate a skip, go into the Form > Submissions tab > click the submission in question. Under the approval status in the upper-left corner of the submission, click the edit icon next to the approver you would like to skip and click the "Skip" option to remove them as an approver from the individual submission.
Reporting against Approvals
Forms activated with Approvals will have some added submission reports relating to the approval status. When you open your submission reports, you will see some pre-defined reports, including:
Approved, Approved by me (you), Denied, Denied by me, Pending and Pending by me. These reports will update automatically as the approval status changes.
Note: Approval status options are currently not available in the chart reports.
Frequently asked Approval feature questions:
Q: If one person denies an approval on a submission, will the whole submission be denied?
A: Yes, in order for a submission to be marked as approved, every approver MUST individually approve the submission.
Q: Once a submission has been approved by all approvers, can it be undone?
A: If all approvers have approved a submission then the status is set and we do not have a way to undo or reverse the status. If the submission is waiting to be approved by other members of your team, then you can change the approval status, as the submission is still in a "pending" mode.
Q: Does an approver need their own Formstack account?
A: Yes, all approvers must have their own Formstack account. If they do not have an account, one can be setup during the Approval setup process. If your account plan does not have enough user account seats for the approvers, then you will need to upgrade to the next plan level.
Q: Do I have to log into Formstack to approve/deny a submission?
A: No, when a form enabled with Approvals is submitted, an email is sent to all approvers and they may approve or deny a submission right from the email without having to log into Formstack. The only exception to this is if you require your approvers to log in to approve/deny a submission.
Q: How are integrations processed and handled when Approvals are enabled on a form?
A: Not all integrations will support running after all Approvals have come in and will need to run when the form is submitted. These are what we call non-queued integrations, and these include payment processors and any integration that redirects the end user to another site immediately after submitting. This also includes file uploads. In cases where these integrations are being used on a form, the Routing Logic option to submit actions will NOT be available and these integrations will run as soon as the form is submitted. For integrations that are queued, do not redirect or can be delayed, you can set up Routing Logic rules so these integrations only run after the submission has been fully approved.
Q: When using Approvals, when are Notification and Confirmation Emails sent?
A: Notification and Confirmation Emails can either be sent immediately after the form is submitted, or you may add Email Logic rules so that these messages are only sent after the form has been approved/denied.
Q: Why are my approvals going to people who should not be receiving them based on the logic?
A: This happens if you are using a separate value in the options that are used to determine who receives the approval message. When the values are similar like 35, 35.0, 35.00 the system will recognize them as the same number and will then assign it to one of the approvers who have another drop down with the same value, rather than the specific word. If this is happening you would have to change the separate value to be a totally different number like 35.00000000001.