In this article we will discuss Approval Workflows with Power Automate. We will cover the various types of approvals, the outcomes of approvals in different scenarios, and how approvals can be taken through various platforms such as the Approval Action Center, email, the Power Automate mobile app, and Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Power Automate
Microsoft Power Automate (formerly known as Microsoft Flow) is a cloud-based service that allows users to create automated workflows between different applications and services. It enables users to automate repetitive tasks and streamline business processes by connecting various Microsoft and non-Microsoft applications, including Office 365, Dynamics 365, SharePoint, and OneDrive. Power Automate allows users to create workflows using a simple drag-and-drop interface, without the need for any coding skills. Users can choose from a range of pre-built templates, or they can create custom workflows tailored to their specific needs. Workflows can include a wide range of actions, such as sending emails, creating tasks, updating records, and more.
Power Automate also provides users with real-time insights and analytics, allowing them to track the performance of their workflows and identify areas for optimization. Additionally, it integrates with various Microsoft services and third-party tools, allowing users to build powerful and complex workflows that can automate almost any business process.
Different Types of Approval
There are several different patterns for approvals in Power Automate, including:
- Sequential Approval: This type of approval involves a single approver who must approve or reject the request before the next approver can take action. The approval process proceeds in a linear sequence, with each approver taking action only after the previous approver has taken action.
- Parallel Approval: This type of approval involves multiple approvers who can take action simultaneously. The approval process proceeds in parallel, with each approver receiving the approval request at the same time and taking action independently.
- Custom Approval: This type of approval involves a custom approval process that can be configured to meet specific requirements. Approvers can be added, removed, or reordered as needed, and approval rules can be specified to dictate the approval process.
- Escalation Approval: This type of approval involves an automatic escalation process that is triggered if the approval request is not acted upon within a specified timeframe. The approval request can be automatically escalated to a higher-level approver or a backup approver if the original approver does not take action within the specified timeframe.
These are some of the most common approval patterns in Power Automate, but the specific pattern that works best for your use case will depend on your requirements and preferences.
Steps to Create an Approval Flow
With the use of Microsoft Power Automate, various types of approval flows can be created by employing a range of actions. The creation of an approval flow is a common scenario that can be effortlessly accomplished. Here are the steps to create an approval flow using Power Automate:
- Go to the following link.
- Sign in to the Power Automate portal with proper authentication.
- Click on “Create” in the left navigation bar as shown figure 1.
- Select “Instant Cloud Flow” and choose a trigger. In this case, choose “Manually trigger a flow”.
- Now add an action “Approvals” action. You can choose from a range of approval types.
Different Approach to start Approval
As a workflow development platform, Power Automate offers several actions for creating workflows that require human interaction and data collection from human users. These workflows can include approval, rejection, or custom steps based on the information collected.
There are two main approaches for achieving this in Power Automate, using the “Start and Wait for an Approval” and “Create an Approval” actions. These actions provide the necessary tools to collect information from users, process it, and make decisions on the next steps in the workflow based on the submitted values.
Start and Wait for an Approval:This action starts an approval process and waits for the approval outcome before proceeding to the next step in the workflow.
Create an Approval:This action creates an approval request and allows the workflow to continue without waiting for the approval outcome. The approval outcome can be retrieved later using the “Get Approval” action.
Wait for an Approval:This action pauses the workflow until a specified approval request has been completed. The approval outcome can be either approved or rejected, and the workflow continues based on the outcome.
- Configure the approval action, by selecting Approval Types and other necessary field including the approver’s email address and any custom message or options you want to include.
Different Approval Type
“Every One Must Approve” – In this approval type, every assigned approver must approve the request before it can be considered complete. Either single or multiple approvers can be added to the approval process, and the request will be sent out to all of them simultaneously. For the approval to be granted, all approvers must give their approval. If any one of the approvers rejects the request, the approval process will be terminated and no further action will be taken by the other approvers.
“First to Respond” – In this approval type, the first approver to respond to the request is considered the approval outcome. The approval process will stop as soon as one approver responds, even if other approvers have not responded yet. Single or multiple approvers can be added to an approval process, and the approval request will be sent out in parallel to all approvers. For the request to be approved, it only takes one approver to give their approval. However, any approve or rejection from any of the approvers will end the approval process, and any further actions from the other approvers will be omitted.
Other than these two there are two given custom types which are “Wait for All Responses” and “Wait for One Response”, on which a minimal level of customization can be done but mostly similar to the previous ones.
- To set the approval, select assigned to column.
To define an approver in Power Automate, you can use the Email ID of the Approver or the User Principle Name (UPN) of the Approver. You can also use the Azure Active Directory (AAD) ID of the Approver, but this may require additional configuration and setup within your organization’s AAD environment. It’s worth noting that the specific method for defining an approver may depend on the specific action or connector being used within Power Automate, as some may have unique requirements or options for identifying and selecting approvers.
- After the approval action is complete, add a condition to check the approval outcome. For example, you might check whether the approval was “Approved” or “Rejected”.
- Based on the outcome, add additional actions to perform the necessary tasks. For example, if the approval was “Approved”, you might send a notification to the user and update a record in a database. If the approval was “Rejected”, you might send a notification to the user and ask them to revise the request.
Once you have completed these steps, your approval flow is ready to use. You can trigger it manually or integrate it with other applications or services to automate your business processes.
This is your approval dashboard, where you will receive approval actions like “Test Approval to Respond”. On this dashboard, you’ll find options to approve or reject the approval, along with the received time, approval details, and requester information.
When you select either approve or reject, a panel will open allowing you to take further actions. This panel provides an overview of the approval, the approval details, and a dropdown to select the desired action. You’ll need to select an option and click the “Confirm” button. The comments section is optional. Currently, the form cannot be customized.
Approve From Email
From our email inbox, which has received a message from a Microsoft Flow account, we have the option to take an action through actionable messaging. An adaptive card will be presented to the user with all relevant details related to the approval in the email, where they can select either Approve or Reject from the buttons provided. The user may also leave comments, though it is not mandatory, before clicking the Submit button at the end. Once the Submit button is clicked, the Approval action will be completed.
Generally when you set approver for approval request, you have to select individuals from your organization. But to send approval requests to individuals outside of your organization, you can leverage Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) guest users. Inviting users from other tenants as guests will allow you to utilize this feature. When you grant a role to a guest, they will be granted the necessary permissions to participate in the approval process.
Here is the video where i have taken a session on the same topic.