Approval Process in Salesforce

Approval Process in Salesforce

On June 14, 2023, Posted by , In Admin Tutorial,Salesforce Admin,Salesforce Tutorial, With Comments Off on Approval Process in Salesforce
Approval Process in Salesforce 2024
Approval Process in Salesforce 2024

Table of Contents

What is an Approval Process?

Approval processes are used to automatically approve a record for an org. They are defined using a sequence of steps and perform an approve, reject, or recall action on each record. Salesforce also supports the ability to approve records through email.

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An approval process in Salesforce is a sequence of steps that a record goes through before it is approved or rejected. It allows organizations to automate the approval of records, such as expense reports, time off requests, or contract agreements, ensuring that they meet specific criteria before proceeding. Approval processes involve defining entry criteria, approval steps with designated approvers, and actions to be taken upon approval or rejection.

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In Salesforce, approval processes can be customized to fit various business needs, including setting up multiple levels of approval, parallel or sequential approvals, and dynamic approval routing based on record data. They help streamline decision-making, enforce compliance, and maintain a clear audit trail of approvals and rejections, ultimately improving efficiency and accountability in business processes.

Configuring an approval process

To start with configuring an approval process, search for Approval Processes on the Quick Find box. 

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There, you can select the object for which you’re setting up this process. 

In this example, we’re going to set up an approval process for the Rating field in the Account object. We want it to seek approval whenever the rating of the record is set to Cold. 

Before the process configuration, we want to introduce a new field to the Account object to display the approval status of the record. For this, we create a new Pick list field named “ApprovalDone?” and use values Pending, Yes, and No as statuses. 

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Now, we can configure an approval process for the Rating field. 

Create New Approval Process

To create a new approval process in Salesforce, navigate to the Setup menu and search for “Approval Processes” under the “Process Automation” section. Select the object for which you want to create the approval process and click on “New Approval Process.” Choose the “Use Standard Setup Wizard” option for a guided setup. Enter a name and description for the approval process, define the entry criteria that determine when records are eligible for approval, and specify the initial submission actions.

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Next, create one or more approval steps, each with its own criteria, approvers, and approval/rejection actions. Finally, define the final approval and final rejection actions, and activate the approval process. This process can be customized further based on specific business requirements, including adding email alerts, field updates, and additional approval steps as needed.

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Here, pick Account as the object and go to Create New Approval Process -> Use Jump Start Wizard

In the context of specifying criteria for triggering an approval process in Salesforce, the “field” refers to a specific attribute or column of a record, the “operator” is a comparison operator used to evaluate the field, and the “value” is the benchmark against which the field is compared. For example, consider an approval process for expense reports. You might have a field called “Total Amount,” an operator “greater than (>)”, and a value of “1000.” In this case, the approval process is triggered only if the Total Amount of the expense report is greater than $1000. This combination of field, operator, and value forms the criteria that determine whether a record enters the approval process.

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Specify Entry Criteria

Enter the process name and enable Add the Submit for Approval button. You can also pick an Approval Assignment Email Template if it’s needed. Then, you should specify the criteria for triggering the approval process. It should be set to “Account: Rating equals to Cold”.

In a Salesforce approval process, “automatically assign to approvers” refers to the system’s ability to automatically route records to designated approvers based on predefined criteria or rules. For example, you can configure the approval process to automatically assign a leave request to the submitter’s direct manager for approval, or route a high-value contract to a specific approval queue consisting of senior management. This automation ensures that records are promptly and correctly assigned to the appropriate approvers, streamlining the approval workflow and reducing manual intervention.

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Select Authorized Approver

Next, select the authorized approver. 

Then, you can save the approval process. This takes you to the process details page. Here, you should add an Initial Submission Action to set the ApprovalDone? to Pending for records with Cold Rating. 

Click on Add New and select Field Update to set up this mechanism. 

Initial Submission Actions

In a Salesforce approval process, “initial submission actions” refer to the set of actions that are automatically executed when a record is first submitted for approval. These actions can include updating fields in the record, sending email notifications to approvers or stakeholders, creating tasks, or executing other business logic.

For example, when an expense report is submitted for approval, an initial submission action might update the status field of the record to “Pending Approval” and send an email notification to the designated approver. These actions help to initiate the approval process and ensure that all necessary steps are taken at the outset.

In a Salesforce approval process, “approval steps” are the individual stages that a record goes through as part of the approval workflow. Each approval step defines specific criteria that must be met for the record to proceed, as well as the approver or group of approvers responsible for reviewing and approving the record at that stage.

For example, an approval process for a purchase order might have an initial approval step where the department manager reviews orders under $5,000, followed by a second step where orders over $5,000 are escalated to the finance team for further approval. These steps ensure that the record is reviewed by the appropriate individuals or teams at each stage of the process.

Final Approval Actions

Here, you can give this a name and pick the field that should be updated. Choose a specific value (Pending) as its value next. 

We also want to add a Final Approval Action to this process for approved status. For this, click on Add New in the section and select Field Update. 

In a Salesforce approval process, “Final approval actions” are the actions that are automatically executed when a record is approved at the final step of the approval process. These actions can include updating the record’s status to “Approved,” sending a notification to the record submitter or other stakeholders, creating related records, or triggering other business processes.

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For example, in a hiring process, the final approval action might update the candidate’s status to “Hired” and send a welcome email to the new employee. These actions ensure that all necessary steps are completed once the record receives final approval, marking the successful conclusion of the approval process.

Field Update Edit

Here, you can again select ApprovalDone? as the field to update and select Yes as the picklist value option. 

Similarly, you need to add another Final Rejection Action for rejected status with the picklist value set to No. 

Finally, now you can activate the approval process. 

You can test this process’s behavior by creating a new Account record with a Cold Rating. 

Video Tutorial

Watch the full video of How to configure Approval process here.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How do you design and implement parallel approval processes in Salesforce, and what are the considerations for ensuring proper synchronization and conflict resolution?

Answer: In designing and implementing a complex approval process in Salesforce for a global sales organization, we faced several challenges. The process required multi-tiered approvals for discounting large deals, with varying thresholds based on deal size, region, and product mix. To address this, we utilized custom metadata types to define dynamic approval matrices, allowing for flexibility and scalability in the process.

The implementation involved using Apex to orchestrate the process flow, ensuring that each approval step was triggered based on the defined criteria. We integrated the approval process with the company’s CPQ system to maintain real-time synchronization of data, which was crucial for maintaining accuracy and efficiency in the deal-closing process.

One of the major challenges we encountered was ensuring a seamless user experience. With multiple stakeholders involved in the approval process, it was essential to provide clear communication and easy-to-use interfaces. We achieved this by customizing the approval page layouts and using Visualforce pages to provide additional context and guidance for approvers.

Another challenge was managing the complexity of the business rules and ensuring that the process could adapt to changing requirements. We addressed this by implementing a modular design, allowing for easy updates and modifications to the approval matrices and process flow.

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Testing and debugging were critical components of the project. We employed a combination of unit testing, integration testing, and user acceptance testing to ensure that the approval process functioned correctly and met all business requirements. We also set up detailed logging and error handling mechanisms to quickly identify and resolve any issues during the approval process.

Overall, the successful implementation of this complex approval process in Salesforce required a deep understanding of the platform’s capabilities, a strategic approach to design and development, and a strong focus on user experience and testing.

Can you discuss a scenario where you had to customize approval process email notifications in Salesforce, including the use of Visualforce templates or Apex code?

Answer: I can share an experience where we had to customize approval process email notifications in Salesforce for a financial services client. They required a highly personalized notification system for their loan approval process. The standard email templates weren’t sufficient, as they needed to include dynamic content such as loan details, customer information, and specific instructions based on the approval stage.

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To achieve this, we used Visualforce email templates, which allowed us to incorporate complex logic and merge fields from related records. We also utilized Apex code to trigger these emails at specific points in the approval process, ensuring that the right information was sent to the right people at the right time.

One of the challenges we faced was maintaining the templates’ readability and responsiveness across different email clients. We addressed this by using HTML and CSS best practices, and by thoroughly testing the templates in various email environments.

Additionally, we implemented a feature where approvers could directly approve or reject requests from within the email, enhancing the efficiency of the process. This required some custom Apex logic to securely process these actions and update the Salesforce records accordingly.

Overall, this customization significantly improved the user experience for both the approvers and the requesters, streamlining communication and making the approval process more efficient.

How do you handle approval process exceptions and escalations in Salesforce, particularly in cases where approvers are unavailable or unresponsive?

Answer: Handling approval process exceptions and escalations is crucial to maintaining business continuity, especially in scenarios where approvers are unavailable or unresponsive. In one project I worked on, we implemented a solution in Salesforce to address this issue for a client’s procurement approval process.

We started by defining clear escalation rules within the approval process. If an approver did not respond within a specified timeframe, the approval request would automatically escalate to the next level of management. To achieve this, we used time-based workflow actions to monitor the duration of each approval step.

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Additionally, we incorporated Apex triggers to check for approver availability. If an approver was marked as out of office or on leave, the system would automatically reroute the approval request to a designated alternate approver.

We also implemented a feature where critical approval requests could bypass certain steps in the process if they met specific criteria, ensuring that urgent procurements were not delayed.

To ensure transparency and accountability, we set up automated email notifications and Chatter posts to inform stakeholders about the status of the approval process, including any escalations or exceptions.

This approach not only improved the efficiency of the approval process but also ensured that critical business operations were not hindered by the unavailability of approvers.

What approaches do you use to monitor and audit approval processes in Salesforce, ensuring compliance with organizational policies and regulatory requirements?

Answer: In my experience, monitoring and auditing approval processes in Salesforce is critical to ensuring compliance with organizational policies and regulatory requirements. One approach I’ve used is leveraging Salesforce’s built-in audit trail feature, which tracks changes made to the configuration and metadata of the approval process. This allows us to review any modifications and ensure they align with our compliance standards.

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Additionally, I’ve implemented custom logging and reporting mechanisms using Apex and SOQL. By capturing key events and actions within the approval process, we can create detailed reports that provide insights into the approval flow, including who approved what and when. This level of granularity is essential for internal audits and regulatory compliance.

For real-time monitoring, I’ve used Salesforce Process Builder and Flow to set up alerts and notifications. These can be triggered by specific events, such as a record being stuck in a particular approval step for too long, which could indicate a bottleneck or an unresponsive approver.

Moreover, integrating with external audit and compliance tools is often necessary for more comprehensive monitoring. By using Salesforce’s API, we can export approval process data to these tools for further analysis and correlation with other compliance data.

Overall, a combination of Salesforce’s built-in features, custom development, and integration with external systems provides a robust framework for monitoring and auditing approval processes to ensure they meet the required compliance standards.

Can you describe a situation where you had to migrate approval processes from a legacy system to Salesforce, including the challenges you faced and how you addressed them?

Answer: In one of our projects, we had to migrate a complex approval process from a legacy system to Salesforce for a manufacturing client. The original system was heavily customized and used a mix of manual processes and outdated technology, which made the migration particularly challenging.

The first step was to thoroughly understand the existing approval workflows, including all the business rules and conditions. We then mapped these workflows to Salesforce, leveraging the platform’s approval process capabilities and customizing them with Apex and Visualforce to accommodate specific requirements that couldn’t be met with out-of-the-box functionality.

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One of the major challenges we faced was ensuring data integrity during the migration. We had to carefully plan the data transfer to ensure that all active approval requests in the legacy system were accurately reflected in Salesforce, without any loss of information or disruption to ongoing processes.

Another challenge was user adoption. We addressed this by providing extensive training and support to the users, ensuring they were comfortable with the new system and understood its benefits.

Throughout the project, we worked closely with the client’s team to ensure that the new approval processes not only met their current needs but were also scalable and flexible enough to accommodate future changes. The successful migration resulted in a more efficient and transparent approval process, with improved tracking and reporting capabilities.

Understanding and Setting Up Approval Processes in Salesforce

Approval processes in Salesforce are designed to streamline and automate the way records are approved within the platform. By defining each step of the approval process, including who needs to approve the record and what actions should be taken at each stage, businesses can ensure a consistent and efficient approval workflow.

Steps to Set Up an Approval Process:

  1. Prepare Your Org for Approvals: Ensure that your users have the ability to submit records for approval. Additionally, consider ways to simplify the process for approvers to review and respond to approval requests.
  2. Consider Limits and Constraints: Before implementing an approval process, it’s important to be aware of any limitations or considerations that may impact its functionality.
  3. Explore Sample Approval Processes: Review examples of common approval processes to gain insights and inspiration for creating your own custom process.
  4. Utilize Approval History Reports: By creating custom report types for approval process instances, users can access detailed historical information about both completed and ongoing approval processes, including the steps involved.
  5. Manage Multiple Approval Requests: Salesforce provides tools for transferring multiple approval requests from one user to another or removing multiple requests from the approval process altogether.
  6. Enable User Submissions for Approval: Administrators can configure approval processes to allow users to submit records for approval, generating approval requests that need to be addressed.

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