Handling multiple reviews in an approval workflow

Hi all, I have a number of processes with multiple approvals, that requires the approver to be able to send back the request for a review or update (as many times as needed), before approval sends it to the next approver. As Smartsheet doesn't have a built-in "review" option I am currently working around this by having the submitter click a "resubmit" button when updating (which triggers the approval loop). HOWEVER, the vast majority of users forget to do this, which means the submission then just stops, and falls through the gap.

Does anyone have a better/more fool-proof way to handle multiple update requests on an approval?

Answers

  • Bassam Khalil
    Bassam Khalil ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Karen Webber,

    To streamline a process with multiple approvals and revisions in Smartsheet, where the current method relies on users remembering to click a "resubmit" button, you can consider automating the process more robustly to reduce human error. Here's a more fool-proof approach leveraging Smartsheet's capabilities:

    1. Automated Update Requests Instead of Manual Resubmission

    Instead of relying on users to manually click a "resubmit" button, automate the sending of update requests when a submission needs review or updates.

    • Use Automated Workflows: Set up an automated workflow that sends an update request to the submitter when an approver indicates that a submission needs to be reviewed or updated. This can be done by adding a specific column where approvers can mark the submission as "Needs Review" or "Incomplete," triggering the update request automatically.

    2. Status Tracking Column

    Create a dedicated column to track the status of each submission, with statuses like "Pending Approval," "Needs Review," "Resubmitted," etc.

    • Automated Status Updates: Utilize automated workflows to update the status column based on actions taken. For example, when an update request is completed, the status can automatically change to "Resubmitted," which then triggers the next step in the approval process.

    3. Conditional Approval Routing

    Use conditional logic in your workflows to ensure that the submission is sent to the appropriate next approver based on the status or responses in the update request.

    • Dynamic Routing: Set up the system so that once a submission is marked as "Resubmitted" and meets the criteria for moving forward, it automatically gets routed to the next approver in the chain.

    4. Reminder and Notification System

    Implement a reminder system for both submitters and approvers to minimize delays in the review and approval processes.

    • Regular Reminders: Set reminders for submitters who have pending update requests and for approvers waiting to review submissions. This can help ensure that tasks do not fall through the cracks.

    5. User Training and Communication

    Despite automation, user education is crucial. Provide clear guidelines and training sessions for users on the new process to ensure they understand how it works and the importance of their role in the workflow.

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  • Thanks for the above suggestions, Bassam, they are very useful.

    Follow-up question on the following: "For example, when an update request is completed, the status can automatically change to "Resubmitted," which then triggers the next step in the approval process."

    How would you do this? There is the option to change a cell when an update is sent out, but that means it will be triggered before the user completes the update.

  • Genevieve P.
    Genevieve P. Employee Admin

    Hi @Karen Webber

    For that statement, I believe @Bassam Khalil is referring to having a Change Cell workflow update a value based on what was selected manually in the update request.

    For step 1, he noted "This can be done by adding a specific column where approvers can mark the submission as "Needs Review" or "Incomplete..." etc. You would update the Status based on what they have said in that column.

  • Thanks @Genevieve P., I'm clear on that part - I'm just not clear how the status can be automatically changed once the update is submitted, so that the request goes back to the approver for re-review. Using a cell status (ie needs review") plus line changed trigger will also trigger if the approver adds information from their side.

  • Genevieve P.
    Genevieve P. Employee Admin

    Hi @Karen Webber

    Yes, you're right - there would need to be something unique about this submission that indicates it needs to be resubmitted. I would personally set up my process how you stated in your original post, with a field that states "resubmit" or something similar.