Approval requests: Automatically request sign-off on work items

Applies to

Smartsheet
  • Business
  • Enterprise

Approval requests let you automatically ask someone to approve or deny an item on your sheet. For example, you can configure an approval request to have Smartsheet automatically send a request for someone from finance team to sign off if a purchase order is over a maximum dollar amount.

Requirements for creating and receiving approval requests

Use the following table as a reference for whether you can create or edit approval requests for yourself and others based on sheet sharing permissions.

  Owner Admin Editor Commenter Viewer Not Shared
Create approval request rules Yes Yes* No No No No
Edit approval request rules Yes Yes* No No No No
Receive and take action on approval requests Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes*

*You may need to adjust an additional setting to allow anyone with a valid email address to receive approval requests. See the Control who can receive approval requests section below for details.

To prevent infinite approval loops, cells with cross-sheet formulas or cell links won’t trigger the approval request. To work around this, create an update request

Control who can receive approval requests

By default, only sheet collaborators can receive notifications. If you want to send notifications to anyone with a valid email address on a sheet-level or account-level, see the following help articles:


Create an approval request

With your sheet open:

  1. Optional: Insert a Dropdown (Single Select) column for the approval status, and add these as your list options:
    • Waiting for approval
    • Approved
    • Declined
  2. In the menu bar, select Automation > Set up an Approval Workflow….
  3. In the Untitled Workflow box, enter a name for your workflow.
  4. In the Trigger block, set the criteria that cause the workflow to automatically fire
  5. To filter rows you want to include in the approval request, select Add a condition to filter rows.
  6. In the Add a name or email box of the Request an approval block, select the stakeholder who needs to approve the item. 
    If you add only one contact in the Add a name or email box, this’ll be the default name of the column Smartsheet creates for the approval status: ContactName_approval (e.g., John Doe approval). If you add more than one contact, the default name will be Approval Status
  7. In the Save response in the dropdown list, select a column where you want Smartsheet to record the approval status.
    By default, Smartsheet chooses the column it created for the approval status, but you can change it and select the column you created in step 1 of this process. 
  8. To edit the email subject and message Smartsheet sends, select Customize message
  9. In the Message includes section, choose to include all or select fields. 
  10. To set up the action for approved requests, in the If Approved section, select + > Add an action
    • Optional: Add a condition if you want to filter the rows you want to include in the workflow.
  11. To set up the action for declined requests, in the If Declined section, select + > Add an action.
    • Optional: Add a condition if you want to filter the rows you want to include in the workflow. 
  12. Select Save.

You can create more complex approval workflows.

Set up the Advanced options of your approval workflow

In the Request an approval block, select More Actions icon > Advanced options.... Once the Advanced Options form appears, edit the following fields:

  • When submitted - Set up the value that appears in the approval status column after you submit an approval request
  • When approved - Set up the value that appears in the Approval Status column (or whatever column you selected) for approved requests
    • Button text - Customize the button label for the Approval button (e.g., Approve, Signed Off, etc.)
  • When declined - Set up the value that appears in the Approval Status column (or whatever column you selected) for declined requests
    • Button text - Customize the button label for the Decline button (e.g., Decline, Reject, etc.)

That’s it! Depending on their account settings, the approver will get an approval request in an email message, mobile push notification, and in the computer browser application

Edit, disable, or delete existing rules

Follow these steps to make changes in your workflow: 

  1. In the menu bar, select Automation > Manage Workflows….
  2. In the right corner of the workflow you want to edit, select Dropdown icon.
  3. Select the appropriate action. Refer to the table below to learn more about each command.
Use this command To do this Tips and notes
Disable Temporarily turn off the rule Use this command to use the rule in the future.
Edit Rename or change the criteria for the rule
  • Open the workflow builder, and make changes to your workflow
Use this to make modifications in the alert message. 
Duplicate Create a copy of the rule Use this command if you need to create the same workflow type for a different purpose. Doing this lets you create another workflow faster.
Unsubscribe Stop receiving the alert You can also unsubscribe directly from the alert or action you receive. To do this, select Unsubscribe in the Don't want to receive these emails? section in the email message.
Delete Delete the rule completely You can’t undo this.