Streamline requests with new approval features in Microsoft Teams

Published 04-12-2021 03:30 PM 42.6K Views

Getting an approval on your work items is an essential part of almost every workflow. The approval can be a written acknowledgement from your manager, a formal authorization from a diverse group of stakeholders, or an official signature from a customer. Regardless of the type of approval needed, it can be hard to track and manage the requests when many systems and people are involved and often leads to unnecessary delays.

 

Approvals in Microsoft Teams enables everyone, from frontline workers to corporate headquarters employees, to easily create, manage, and share approvals directly from Teams.

 

We’ve been listening to your feedback and have added new capabilities to streamline your approval request and get faster results.

 

Create an approval request with an electronic signature
There may be times when you need a more formal attestation and require the approvers’ signatures. Now, key partners like Adobe Sign, DocuSign and other 3rd party providers allow you to create an electronic signature approval natively within the Approval app. With this new feature, approvers can add their signature without leaving Teams, enabling an efficient and faster approval process. Once the approval process is completed, the information is stored in Teams, and you can easily access the approval record and view the eSignatures.

 

To request the approver’s eSignature, choose eSign as your request type. Then choose your electronic signature provider, select the file that needs to be signed, and include additional details needed. Once submitted, internal signers are sent a notification via Teams and an email asking for their signature. If the signer is external to the organization, they will be notified with an email, in which they can easily review the details and sign. Approvals will keep track of the entire audit trail right in context of Teams, so you are able to track who already signed the approval and when it was signed. This feature will start rolling out at the end of April.

 

Create an approval template
To streamline workflows, new out of the box templates provide a repeatable structure for common approvals like filling out expense reports or requesting overtime. Admins and team owners can use these as is, customize, or create new templates for their organization and teams.

 

Teams admins and teams owners can also create approval templates by clicking on template management in the overflow menu and following the instructions. Enter the name of your template, select the approvers, add in the necessary form fields and the workflow settings. When done, hit publish.


Once you create your first organizational template, it will create a new admin team. From there, you can add additional admins that can manage the organizational templates, right from the Approvals App.


This feature will be rolling out in April.

 

Create an approval request with templates
Leverage the templates your admin or team owner enabled for you and make it easier to create an approval request. Use the structured form to input all the necessary information and eliminate back and forth on missing data for a faster approval.

 

New attachment capabilities
Approval hub enables you to attach files directly from OneDrive and SharePoint, as well as attach a generic link for content that is hosted outside of Microsoft 365. This will ensure your approval is connected to the latest version of the file, reflecting any changes. This feature is available now.Attach link in a channel.png

 

Markdown support
We are also adding full Markdown support in both adaptive cards and the detail’s view, so you can ensure all your approvals are formatted correctly for all your approval processes. This feature is available now.

 

Approve or reject an approval request inline
Approvals role based adaptive cards enable you to quickly respond to an approval request right from within the chat or channel without having to view the details. If you do not have permission to respond to the request, you will not see the "Approve" or "Reject" buttons on the card. This feature is available now.

Approve or Reject Request.png

 

Resources
Getting your request approved just got easier with the new features coming to approvals in Microsoft Teams. Learn more and get the most out of approvals in Microsoft Teams using these resources:

19 Comments
Senior Member

Great to see these improvements, especially the expanded attachment functionality. 

Contributor

I don’t understand the use case of attaching an document link to reflect the latest version. For approval, once the document is approved, is should be locked for future change. 

Occasional Contributor

that was my thought too, @Jin Chen.  I suppose there are a few options out of the gate to address this, such as cross-referencing the approval date with the document's version history.  Not the strongest solution I admit.

 

I also suppose a good flow could move documents into a secure location before sending the approval request too. In theory, that would help prevent future changes to an approved document.

Senior Member

@Jin Chen @atrain204 Agree on the above points. This is a step in the right direction, however an audit trail and non repudiation of the approval decision would be good. 

Regular Contributor

Some good features but we really need a multi step approval system or at least a way of other depts seeing an approved request.

 

E.g if I make an expense claim, my manager can approve it, but I need our finance team (and that could be a number of people), to be able to see that the expense claim was approved too. 

New Contributor

This is all great, but the biggest thing we need is exporting for auditing purposes. We haven't been able to export this data with attachment history from compliance in 365, and an easy way to export approval history would be amazing.

New Contributor

Many of the comments so far are about additional capabilities. Welcome to the modern world of iterative development and release cycles. At least they continue to release features that make it easy for digitally-immature organizations to make a gradual transition from emailing attachments and scanned PDFs/JPGs of signatures. We're using this as an interim step to progressively elaborate on digital document management and workflows without writing a truckload of PowerAutomate content or buying a really complicated and expensive DMS/workflow system. 

 

I like to read about these new features and say "yes, this is helpful, AND it would also be helpful to do X" rather than "yes, BUT".

Regular Contributor

@Pylot_Light - This article about the Forms aspect of these improvements mentions that data is exportable to CSV

Microsoft Forms Powers Approvals Templates in Microsoft Teams

Regular Visitor

Things tend to take longer to hit GCC. How soon can we expect to see this for all of the government organizations? 

Established Member

How do I get the latest version of Approvals? Currently version 1.0.1 is loaded when I select Approvals from the Apps List.

Occasional Contributor

While generating an approval through Power Automate (using "Create an Approval"), I'm able to notify approvers with both the card in Teams and an email. In many cases, execs don't monitor their notifications in Teams as diligently as their email, so this helps. When using the Approvals app directly in Teams, however, I have no option to send an email. This article references the sending of an email when using esign - is the intention to make an email notification possible for regular approvals via the app in Teams also? This limitation is keeping our organization from beginning to adopt Approvals within Teams.

Occasional Visitor

Does the app update automatically? It's May now and I still have only version 1.0.1 available.

cc: @Microsoft_Teams_team 

Regarding Approvals Template I guess the roll-out is not completed because in every approval request that I create based on a template the send button is disabled:

Approvals.png

Regular Contributor

With the Approvals Template, how can I create an org wide template? I only get the option of creating a template for a Team?


We're an EDU tenant.

@David Gorman Because you are not Teams Admin probably, in that case you can create templates only for teams where you are Owner, I'm preparing a video on my YouTube channel

Regular Contributor

Thanks @Giuliano De Luca , will have a look.

Occasional Visitor

Finally got the update today, everything looks great as far as the templates goes, except that when using a template there isnt an option to allow attachments. Is there an update coming that will allow attachments when also using templates?

Occasional Visitor

Is there any way to add a category/subject/type in the template?  This app is so close to being a game changer, however when you have lots of approvals of different types there is no way to filter and sort to what you are looking for that I have found. 

Occasional Visitor

Yes there are categories in templates

 

daneabernathy_0-1620225805608.png

 

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Last update:
‎Apr 15 2021 10:23 AM
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