How do I create a document reviewal/approval process in SharePoint/MetaShare?

This page describes the process to review or approve a specific document . If you rather need a process for recurrent document reviewal you probably want to read this page.

As there are currently no methods to programmatically trigger a flow, from Microsoft Power Automate, based on user interaction, it is not possible for end-users to select a document and then click on an approval function in the toolbar. There’s neither any general approval function in MetaShare that automatically triggers based on business rules, as our clients have different business needs/rules that define their document approval/reviewal process.

There are however many ways to set up an approval/reviewal process in SharePoint/MetaShare. Depending on which option you choose, you might need to create one or several custom document metadata fields:

  1. “Requires approval”
    1. A column that defines whether a document should be sent for approval
    2. Column type: Managed metadata column
    3. Column description: “If you want someone to review and approve the documents.”
    4. Values:
      1. “Yes”
      2. “No”
    5. Default value: “No”
    6. Allow multiple selections = No
  2. “Approval”
    1. A column that defines the approval status of a document
    2. Column type: Managed metadata column
    3. Column description: “Defines the approval status of the document.”
    4. Values:
      1. “Does not require approval”
      2. “Sent for approval”
      3. “Approved”
    5. Default value: “Does not require approval”
    6. Allow multiple selections = No
  3. “Approval date”
    1. A column that could be used to define the date when a document should latest be approval
    2. Column type: Date
    3. Column description: “The date when the document latest should be approved.”
  4. “Document approver” 
    1. A column that defines who should approve a document
    2. Column type: Person or group
    3. Column description: “The persons that should review the document before approval.”
    4. Allow multiple selections = Yes OR No, based on your needs
  5. “Approved by”
    1. A column that defines who has approved a document
    2. Column type: Person or group
    3. Column description: “The person that has approved the document.”
    4. Allow multiple selections = Yes OR No, based on your needs
  6. “Information owner”
    1. A column that defines who is responsible for the content of the document
    2. Column type: Person or group
    3. Column description: “The person responsible for the content of the document.”
    4. Allow multiple selections = No

Some examples of approvals/reviews processes are:

  1. This is the simple option that does not require any customized workflow. When you want someone to approve/review a document, you just send the document’s link to the person(s) that should approve it. When the document is approved, the approver either:
    1. publishes the document (in the document’s version history you will be able to see who published the document) or
    2. sets the “Approved by” metadata field (in the document’s version history you will be able to see who set this value).
  2. If you have higher requirements on the approval/reviewal process you will most probably want to to use a workflow from scratch or start with an existing workflow template and customize it. Here are some examples of workflow templates that you can start with:
    1. Start dynamic parallel approvals for documents in SharePoint
    2. Request manager approval for a selected file
    3. Request approval in Teams for a selected item in SharePoint
    4. Create a Microsoft Planner task for a selected file in SharePoint
    5. Send approval or rejection emails for SharePoint list items

    When a document is triggered for approval, the workflow can send an e-mail to the document approver(s). The approver(s) could either be fetched from active directory, e.g. the user’s manager, from a static list of approvers for different departments or from an “Approver(s)” field in the document.

    When the document is approved, an e-mail can be sent to the initiator of the approval process (the person that created the document, the person that last modified the document or the document’s “Information owner”).

    Examples of business rules for when a document should be sent for approval could be:
    1. when a  document’s “Requires approval” is changed to a “Yes”.
    2. when a  document’s “Approval” is changed to a “Sent for reviewal”.
    3. when a document is published but only if the document has been tagged with certain metadata values, e.g. that the document’s “Document type” = “Policy” or if the document resides in a specific workspace that requires an approval process.

In the approval process, when the approvers’ require certain changes to be done to a document, he/she creates a comment inside the document and tags the person that should edit that section. Automatically an e-mail will be sent to the person that is tagged, with a link to the document (this is an out-of-the box Office 365 feature).

The documents, in any of the the options above, could have an “Approval date” and if a document has not been approved before this date, an e-mail could be configured to be sent to the document’s author as well as to the document’s “Approver(s)”.

Contact a MetaShare partner or MetaShare support if you need assistance in creating a document approval process in your MetaShare.