How to Set Up Multistep Approvals in Your Forms

Does your organization require information or documents to be passed between one or more people to get an approval or permission to proceed? It is easy to set up an online approval process in Formstack to help you automate and speed up the process of getting approval from many people.

Case Study: A Scholarship Approval Process

Let’s take an example of a scholarship application process. This process is fairly complex, so let’s see how it can be handled within Formstack easily and efficiently.

The application process works like this:

  1. a candidate submits his application to a scholarship program
  2. the school then passes it between various people in different departments to evaluate whether the candidate qualifies for the scholarship.
  3. there are a combination of the following selection criteria:

Primary award criteria

  • Financial need

  • Academic achievement, including grades, rank in class, standardized test scores and achievement test scores; community/extracurricular involvement.

  • Leadership

  • Participation in specific activities; awards and recognition

  • Work history

  • Personal or family attributes

Eligible applicants

  • Geographic restrictions

  • Demographic restrictions

  • Other eligibility restrictions (e.g., only graduating high school seniors, only current employees, only radiographers studying to become radiation therapists).

Award restrictions

  • Renewable or nonrenewable.

  • Restricted to certain area of study (e.g., radiography, radiation therapy, nuclear medicine, sonography).

  • Degree or non-degree

  • Full-time attendance or part-time attendance

Fiscal considerations

  • Program funding level

  • Scholarship value

  • Number of scholarships available

An applicant may need to provide one or more of the following supporting documents:

  • Personal interview

  • Letter(s) of reference

  • Character evaluation form

  • Student essay

  • Letter of acceptance from the educational program director

  • High school or college transcripts

  • Financial information summary form

The financial department, the professor(s), the scholarship board, the dean and others may be involved in every scholarship approval process. Every scholarship application has to pass their desk in sequential order.

Using a paper-based process has a number of shortcomings:

  • It is difficult to estimate how many application each person in the workflow needs to approve because applications may get rejected early in the workflow.

  • It is not easy to indicate why an application was rejected.

  • People can lose track, go on vacation or introduce errors

  • Paperwork can be lost or misplaced

Welcome to the world of online form approvals!

Formstack can automate the process described above introducing many benefits to the organization:

  • Faster response to the applicant

  • Every approver can see their approval queue anytime

  • Ensuring that the application will be approved only when all the parties approve

  • Decisions can be changed anytime before everyone approves

  • Cases can be routed to the appropriate person based on simple logic. For example “Let Sam handle inquiries less than $10,000; for all other applications send them to Jude.”

  • Modify the workflow based on your needs.

So how do you set up an approval workflow form in Formstack?

  • Build your form as you usually do. If you already have a form you can adapt it to use the workflow.

  • Go to the Approvals tab in the Settings section of your form.

  • Set up the necessary approvals in the order you want them to go through

    • Add any required logic

  • Publish your form

  • Test it out

You don’t have to login to Formstack to process your approval queue. You can review your queue in your email as you will receive a notification email when you have a submission to process.

If you are an approver and have a formstack account you can see the status of all  submissions from the submissions screen.

Some other processes that can make use of the Approvals feature well:

  • Project delivery process

  • Loan applications

  • Election candidate application

  • Job application

Can you think of a situation in your business where approvals workflow might be useful in your organization? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

Alex is a pioneer in using the cloud to meet the needs of small and medium sized business (SMBs) and membership-based organizations. He has a BSc in computer science from the University of Michigan and has worked as a product manager at two Internet startups. Alex is a father of 2 and plays the trumpet for fun. He is the founder and the president of the University of Michigan Alumni Club of Toronto.