How to create and use Approval templates in Microsoft Teams

Approval Templates are now available for testing in Microsoft Teams Public Preview. You may have to ask your administrator to enable Public Preview for you – or just wait a little longer until feature is fully tested before it rolls to generally available production. However if you are the one sharing information in your organization you may want to get familiar with the feature to provide people instructions and guides how to use it when it is available. Or just to prepare your organizations approval templates so you are ready when it ships.

Updated 6.5.2021

If you are a admin / template owner you will find Approval templates “Manage templates” in the right-hand corner of Approval-application, behind … menu. You do get a message highlighting about this new feature.

When you get there the first time you don’t see any templates

You will be able then to pick up one of templates to get started – or you can create one from the scratch. The list is quite long so I opened it here to be more easily read:

After you have chosen the template (or from the scratch) then you need to define the scope of your template: is it intended for everyone (org-wide), specific team members or for specific users use.

Creation of the Admin team

Now comes the part that is done only once when templates are created the first time. A new team is created and you need to add people to the team – as owners – who will be able to create and manage templates in the future.

After a few moments

Yes – read the warning and write there a message or mark the team to your IT department that is needs to be safe from expiration and other policies.

When you have added others as Team Owners to Approvals App Admin team they can start creating new templates. If those people are Admins they can create new templates for their organization, otherwise they must be team owners in those teams where they want to create approval templates. This means that it is not enough to just to add the person to the Approvals App Admin team -> you need to either make them owners to teams that need approval templates or they need to be Admins as well.

Editing the template / designing the form

Now we can proceed with template editing. First you specify your own title and description unless you want to use the once provided by the template.

Form design part is familiar to everyone who has been using Forms. It is Forms! It comes with some limitations though.

What you can add is quite basic

And finally you define the approval process: do you choose approvers in advance or let the requestor choose them and what kind of answers there will be

You can also specify do all need to approve, or is one enough.

When you are ready hit Preview to see the result.

From the preview you can then Publish the template for everyone to use. Yes – Publish activates it instantly.

In this view I have this newly created template but also a one I created earlier

Using template with Approval request

When you create a new approval using Approval application you can see there is a tab Templates

Let’s choose the Gift application we just created.

We enter the details. And as can be seen : we can not specify who will be approving it – That has already been set at the template.

And when everything is done… you will just send it for approvals.
I updated the blog post on 6.5.2021 to include the info that sending is now active!

John and Kelly then receive the approval request normally. However it looks like that the Approval Template feature is still rolling out since it is missing the details needed to know what is being approved.

Conclusion

Approval templates will be very useful for formalizing those requests that now “run wild” with Approval application. Because the editor is Forms-based it is intuitive and easy to use. What needs to be watched upon is the Template Admin-team that is created in the process – and that the team is not deleted.

Attachments -support is coming in a few weeks: based on this tweet I would say June-July.

Of course those can be created with Microsoft 365: Forms/SharePoint Lists + Power Automate Process so the workflow can be part of business process and include more options & integration but for office/lightweight use cases these templates are extremely handy too.

Approval templates are a great tool for everyone to get started with more formalized, and yet light, approval processes!

Check out my friend Reza Dorrani’s video about Approval Templates to see it in action

17 thoughts on “How to create and use Approval templates in Microsoft Teams

  1. Great blog post!
    I tried deleting the Admin Team and all hell broke loose. To anyone thinking of trying that, do not do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I am an admin for my organization and we still don’t have the option to create templates. Any ideas, I know this was supposed to be available mid April.

    Like

    1. Thank you! You need to switch on Public Preview to be able to create templates. As a admin you can enable that option for users via Teams policies and then users, who have that option, can turn Public Preview on.

      Like

  3. I enabled Public Preview in Teams policy for myself and the other admin but we are still unable to see / get access to the Template module. Any Ideas?

    Like

    1. No you can not do that – at least not at the moment. I think the reasoning is that if a template has been used it should be deleted so the approval process is compliant (can be traced).
      You can disable a template so it won’t show up as a option when starting a new approval.

      Like

  4. I have found that I cannot add anyone to the admin group for templates after it was created either adding as an owner or member, immediately after adding the user is automatically removed. I have tried adding to the group, from Teams and from SharePoint all with the same results, Any ideas?

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  5. I would only add persons to the team via Teams. I tested your scenario: adding a person to the Approvals App Admin team and making them owner. They were not removed automatically.
    Do check if you have some automation in place running behind the scenes that might be interfering with that.

    Like

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