SharePoint Modern page approvals deep dive

Happy New Year to all of you. I hope all of you had enjoyed with safety. Hope we all come around this pandemic very soon.

Introduction

Hi friends, let us examine how we can configure page approvals in Modern SharePoint pages and also see what are all the pros and cons of using the OOB approvals and how we can customize it to fit our requirement.

Why do we need approval

In many organization there will separate policies and procedures for content contributors. They should follow the rules and the content must be inline to the policy before publishing it to the users. We are humans and we make errors. In order to review the content before publishing is what we call it as an approval. There will be some higher officials involved in the approvals. Once you submit the content, the approvers will review it and once they approved, the content is automatically published to the users.

Note: The page approvals mentioned in this post also applies for the News Post and some part of the flow updates will be related to the News Post.

Pre-requisites

Before configuring the page approvals, we need to make sure few things that are in-place.

  • Approvers should have the Approve Items permission. Best practice is to have a separate group of approvers
  • You should finalize whether the approvers are gonna be static for all the pages or dynamic based on the author.
  • You should also be aware that the approvers can approve the page via Email (Web & Client), SharePoint Pages Library, Power Automate site.

Note: The approvers have different options to approve the pages. It could be an advantage or disadavantage based on the organization policy.

How to configure

  • Navigate to the pages library and select AutomatePower AutomateConfigure page approval flow
  • You will be provided with a panel to create the flow. Click the button Create flow. You can also click on the link below the button to get some information on the page approval flow.
  • Once the Create flow button is clicked, you will see another panel showing all the connections required to set the flow. Make sure that all the connections are approved and a tick mark is present for all the connections. If all ok, then click Continue button.
  • Now provide a name for the flow and the approvers who should approve the pages and finally click the Create button to create the approval flow and map to the pages library.

Note: As I mentioned about the static approvers, default flow will use the pre configured approvers. Not to worry, once the flow is created, we can update to dynamic approvers or even we can allow the users to enter the name of the person to approve. We have the flexibility of modifying the flow to fit our requirement.

  • To verify whether the page approval is successfully created or not, refresh the library and now you should see the Approval Status column added to the current view.

Test Run

Once the page approval is configured, try to create a page in the Site Pages library and you will be presented with the Submit for approval option.

Once the approval is submitted, the page now shows Review approvals. click review approvals to see the status of the approval.

Focus on the Flow

Now the flow is created. Navigate to the Power Automate site and go to My flows from the left nav. You should see the flow which is created from the above steps along with other flows if any.

When you edit the flow, you can see different actions that comes in to play for the approval process.

If you see the above screenshot, there are many actions and its not yet over, the condition action is not expanded which inturn has couple of action for approve and reject. If you are a beginner you feel like it is very complex, but if you understand the actions in step by step you can easily modify and enhance the process.

  • The flow starts with the trigger For a selected item. When you click on the Submit for approval from the page the flow will start. By default only Message is captured when we trigger the approval. If you want to capture any other information, you can use the below listed User Inputs to capture the info while submitting the page for approval.
  • Used Get File Properties & Get file metadata to get some information about the page that you had submitted for approval. There are couple of difference between the two actions. The properties action is used to get the values of the field stored in the library. The metadata action is used to get the file information like size, etag etc which we will use it in the below actions.
  • The next action is to start the approval. Here we can check for couple of conditions. There could be more based on the requirement whether to start the approval or not.
    • Whether you need only News Post to go through approval and normal page can be approved automatically
    • You can also check whether the page is submitted from the direct approver and can approve automatically.
  • Start an approval action will start the workflow based on the information provided below
    • Approval Type – Choose how the response should be, there are four options you can choose from.
    • Title – Page title.
    • Assigned To – By default this will display the username which is given while creating the approval flow. Based on the requirement you can change to dynamic person it could be authors manager or you can get the author to key in the approver name using the User Inputs mentioned above in the trigger action.
    • Details – Optional, by default the message captured while submitting the approval is configured.
    • Item Link – Approval link from the above action
  • Once the approval is started the approvers will receive email notification where they can approve via email without navigating to the page or still they can navigate to the page and approve after verifying the page.
  • The OOB action sends an Adaptive Card with the pre-defined message and actions to the approvers. The above action wait for the approvers to take action. Once the approver(s) approve or reject the flow will continue executing the actions below.
  • The next action is a Condition to check the response from the approver. If it is approved
  • Once it is approved the Approval Status column is changed to Approved. If it is Rejected the column is changed to Draft. Once the approval is done, the response email is sent to the author.

There are some other conditions applied to the flow, which we will see in the next post. I hope I had provided some information that would be helpful to few people.

Let me know your feedbacks in comments. Also, please let me know if you are looking some knowledge or hands-on on any topics related to SharePoint, Power Automate etc.

Happy Approving…

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