Approvals, Updates and Deleting Attachment in a Webform during Update

HI there.  I am only a month old Smartsheet user and currently under the Business Plan.

i am building the New Hire Request Form for our company and I came across with problem in the multiple approval as well as the things to do before a request will be approved.

When the requestor filled up the request form, it will prompt an approval request to his/her department head.  If the department head disapproved the request due to incomplete attachments, the head will put a comment in the approval form that its disapproved due to incomplete attachments.  This will prompt an update request to the requestor (I used an update request if the head press the disapproved button).

I encountered my FIRST PROBLEM here.  In the update request form, the requestor can only add attachments but can't remove the initially uploaded documents (by the way, requestors aren't privy with the summary sheets, only the forms).

Anyway, if the requestor updated the request information and attached the necessary/lacking attachments and submit the update, the rationale should be it will notify the department head again for the re-approval stage. (I made an Update request again here so the head can change the "disapproved" status to "approve" status).  This is where I encountered my SECOND PROBLEM.  The Update request condition I put was "when a row changes and an attachment is added and changed, it will send an update request to the department head".  When I put the said rule, at the initial stage of my request where the requestor filled up the request including attachment, it already send the first rule of sending an approval request to the department head and the rule I made about added and changed attachment which was supposed to happen in the re-approval stage which confuses the heads if a request is for approval or reapproval.

Just to complete the process, in case the request is approved by the department head, the Talent Acquisition Team will be notified (they are the team who have access to the summary sheet).  This will be the next approval stage where the TA check if all attachments are complete (which will be my problem again in connection with my FIRST PROBLEM about attachments).

Hope someone can help me with my concerns.


  • Isaac Jose
    Isaac Jose Employee
    edited 12/04/18

    Hello Mariniel,

    Thanks for your post! If I understand correctly, the below workflow is what you're looking for:

    1. New Hire Request Form is submitted by the User
    2. Approval Request is generated for the Department Head's approval
      • If the request is Declined due to incomplete attachments, User receives an Update Request to submit new attachments
      • User submits the Update Request with new attachments. Repeat Step 2 (Approval Request generated for Department Head approval) and avoid confusion between New Requests and Current Request Revisions.
    3. When the request is approved by the Department Head, a new Approval Request should be generated for the Talent Acquisition Team to review attachments.
      • If the request is Declined by the Talent Acquisition Team due to incomplete attachments, User receives an Update Request to submit new attachments. The Department Head  also receives an Alert that the Talent Acquisition Team declined the request due to incomplete attachments
      • User submits the Update Request with new attachments. Repeat Step 2 (Approval Request generated for Department Head approval)

    When trying to build this out, you ran into the following issues:

    • Through Update Requests, users are able to add new attachments, but they're unable to edit or delete the existing ones. This is currently expected behavior, but you can submit a Product Enhancement Request using the quick link to the right. In the meantime, I suggest instructing users to submit attachments in .zip folders. This way, the Department Head and Talent Acquisition Team can look at the attachments uploaded in the most recent zip folder rather than scrolling through a large number of attachments.
    • When a request needs revision, Users are sent an Update Request. When they fill out this Update Request, the New Row Approval and the Existing Row Revised Approval are triggered, causing confusion on the Department Head's side. To resolve this, use two different Approval Requests for new submissions and existing requests. The first Approval Request should be triggered When a row is added and the other should be triggered When a row is changed. To change this from When a row is added or changed, edit the rule and open the drop-down list by hovering over and selecting When a row is added or changed. Additionally, you'll want to utilize the Customize Message feature which allows you to specify the email subject and body of the Alert or Approval Request. If you specify in the email subject and body whether the Approval is generated for a new request or for a revision of an existing request, Department Head confusion will be minimized
    • After the Department Head approves the request, Talent Acquisition needs to approve the request. If Talent Acquisition declines the request, you run into the same issues as the above. To workaround this, use two different Approval columns. One Approval column should be used for the Department Head, and the other should be used the for Talent Acquisition team. When Talent Acquisition declines a request, an Update Request can be sent to the initial request, and a notification can be sent to the Department Head. When the requester submits the Update Request, the Department Head will receive the Request Revision Approval Request, and the workflow will be repeated.

    In the screenshot below, I've created a basic sheet with a form and all of the Alerts & Actions necessary for this process to flow smoothly. If the resolution is too small, right-click the image and select "Open in a new tab." Some additional things that I recommend taking note of:

    • The form I would use for this requires the requester to enter their email address, however you could potentially use a Created By System Column to automatically populate the user's email address if you navigate to Forms > Manage Forms > Edit Form > Form Options > Accessible by and select the "a registered Smartsheet user (requires login)" option. Collect Information with a Form
    • If you have access to Cloud Storage programs such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, or Sharepoint, you could potentially insert a Text/Number column into the sheet and the form where users could copy and paste the Sharing URL of their cloud file or folder. Since direct attachments can't be deleted from an Update Request, this method would bypass that roadblock. When the request is declined, the requester would edit the files within their cloud storage folder, then submit the Update Request with a comment on the changes made and a new Cloud Attachment URL if necessary Share folders in Google Drive
    • It's recommended that each Approval Request is only sent to a single user so that approvals do not overwrite each other. For example, if multiple people on the Talent Acquisition Team receive the same Approval Request, then the value stored in that Approval Request column will reflect the value of whoever last Approved or Declined the request. If UserA declines the request but UserB approves it shortly after, than the approval column will display as "Approved." This is also why we have two different columns for Department Head approval and Talent Acquisition approval. Accelerate Your Business With Automated Actions and Approval
    • Each Alert & Action that I've built in the example below has a custom name for easy identification in the Manage Alerts & Actions window. Each of them also has a Custom Message entered so that the recipient knows what they are receiving and what action they need to take. The character limit for custom messages is 2,000 characters. Alerts & Actions
    • I've set the Alerts & Actions Permissions to Least Restrictive so that users that are not shared to the sheet can receive Alerts. Control Who Is Notified About Alerts and Requests
    • In any alert, using the Advanced Options (three vertical dots to the right of "Alert Someone," "Request an Update," or "Request an Approval" in the rule editor), I've selected specific columns to display in the alert.
    • I've locked certain columns in the sheet so that they are not editable in the Update Request. Any admin or owner of a sheet that is filling out an Update Request will be able to edit the locked fields, but editors, viewers, and people who are not shared to the sheet will be unable to edit these fields through an Update Request. They will be read-only. Lock or Unlock Columns and Rows

    I hope this helps!

    Kind regards,

    Isaac J

    Smartsheet Support

    New Hire Request Sheet.PNG