How to Create an Approval System with Formstack

Written by Laura Thrasher on July 27, 2014

Posted in Form Hacks

Do you need to gather opinions before saying “yes” to a job application or another type of form? Formstack offers a way to bring other decision-makers into the process. Use approval workflow to collaborate with your team to approve or deny form submissions.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to build your own approval system. We’ll use the Big Dollars Scholarship Application as our example. Buckle your seatbelts, folks!

Step 1: Add approvers to your form.
To enable approvals on your form, go to Settings > Approvals. Enter the email address of the individual you would like to add. If he or she is already a user on your account, their email will appear as you are typing. If the approver does not have a Formstack account, an account will be created for them.

The approvers of the Big Dollars Scholarship are the President, CEO, and Big Dollar himself. (This is a very important scholarship.)

1 add approvers

You may add as many approvers to a form as you’d like and you can remove them anytime. (Keep in mind that if approvers are added to a form and are later removed or deleted, their approval data and comments will also be removed. Delete approvers very carefully!)

If you are adding a new user, you will want to edit their permissions. Go to the Users tab and click on the individual’s name to adjust their permissions level.

Here, we are giving Big Dollar the ability to view only this form. (We don’t want him messing around and deleting stuff.)

1b form permissions

You can grant four types of permissions:

  • Global permissions include account admin level as well as form and theme creation.
  • Folder permissions allow you to grant folder-level admin, editing, or viewing access within designated folders.
  • Form permissions let users view or edit individual forms.
  • Theme permissions allow users use or edit custom themes.

Step 2: Add approval logic (optional).
When an approver has been added to a form, you may want to include logic for them. This means that they are only notified of submissions that fit certain conditions. Fields eligible for approver logic include select lists, checkboxes, number, or radio fields. You can add more than one; just click the green plus sign to add more.

In our example, Big Dollar only wants to approve incoming seniors. That field was a radio button choice in the application.

2 add approval logic

Step 3: Set up approval/denial emails (optional).
Formstack automatically emails each approver when a new form is submitted. There is also an option to set up emails that are sent after submissions are approved or denied.

Go to Settings > Approvals and scroll down to Email Settings. There, you can set up approval, denial, or notification emails that can be sent to the applicant or an approver. Approval and denial messages are only sent after all approvers have reviewed the submission.

3 set up approver emails

Below is our Big Dollar Scholarship denial email. You can add custom text and even include logos and images.

4 denial email

Step 4: Review approval status in the Submissions tab
Forms enabled with approvals have an “Approval Status” column added to the submission view. There, you can see if a submission has been approved or denied. If the submission is waiting to be approved or denied by you, clicking on the Approve or Deny button will update its status.

5 approval

Click on an individual submission to add comments or view your teams’ notes. As you can see, Bobby Bobberson is an awesome candidate!

6 approver comments

Step 5: Enjoy your new ability to delegate.
With Approval Workflow, you can hand off authority to your team. No more excuses, delays, or lost paperwork! Take advantage of automatic email alerts and the ability to approve and deny right from approvers’ inbox.

Please note that this feature is only available to Manager plans and higher. If you want to see Approval Workflow in action, sign up for a free trial today!