Approval process stages
The approval process ensures that all the necessary steps take place to complete any approval, while rules govern how the request is handled at various stages of the process.
The following figure illustrates the five stages of any approval process. The approval server checks for rules belonging to each stage during the approval process. Any given approval process does not require rules in all five stages, but most approval processes include rules in at least the approver response and Process Done stages.
Depending on the process design and the rules used, the approval cycle can include several iterations of the next approver, approver response, and Completion Check stages.
Approval process stages
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An approval process starts when someone submits an approval request.
- Stage 1, Self Check — If the process includes either Auto Approval or Self Approval rules, the approval server immediately applies them to determine whether the requester has sufficient authority to approve his or her own request. If so, the approval process is done and the approved request is returned to the requester.
- Stage 2, Next Approver (routing) — If no Auto Approval or Self Approval rules are included in the process, or if the Self Check stage determines that the request must be routed to an approver, the Next Approver stage begins. For most process types, the approval server applies one or more next approver rules to start a cycle of identifying people who need to approve the request. (The exception to this is the Ad Hoc process type, as explained in Approval process types.) The Next Approver stage is repeated until all approvers have received the request.
- Stage 3, Approver Response — In this stage of the process, approvers either approve or reject an approval request. This action completes the signature line for that approver. If an approver approves the request, the approval process continues. If an approver rejects the request, the approval process is usually done. (You can override this behavior with Signature Accumulator and Statistical Override rules).
The Approver Response stage is repeated as necessary, and is closely integrated with the Completion Check stage.
- Stage 4, Completion Check — The Completion Check stage accepts the results of the Approver Response stage, and checks to see if the routing of a request is complete. Routing is complete if all required approvers have received the request, whether they have responded. If all required approvers have not received the request, the process returns to the Next Approver stage.
The Completion Check stage is repeated as necessary until the Completion Check passes.
- Stage 5, Process Done — The approval process is done when the request is approved by all (or enough) required approvers, or when it is rejected. This stage is also done if an error state is recorded or if the request is cancelled. During this stage, the approval server determines whether the approval was successful, and takes appropriate action, such as delivering a notification of the completed request to the requester.
The difference between "complete" and "done" is important. When a request is complete, it has been routed to all approvers. Even when routing is complete, all required approvers have not necessarily responded. The request is done when all required approvers have approved or rejected the request.