Create Approvals That NEVER Expire

If you are reading this, you likely ran into an issue where you created an approval flow, but it expired before the recipient had time to approve or reject it. The timeout for an approval or any flow is thirty days; then, it stops running. Yes, there are some clever workaround to alert if the flow times out, but who wants to mess with that?

The approach I took to solve this was to leverage some of the existing tooling, then add to them. When you create an approval, a row is created in the dataverse Approval table. As we all know, a flow is trigger-based, so why not create one that simply monitors the Approval table, then handles things from there?

At a high level, here is the basic approach.

Start by creating a simple flow that initiates an approval, then run it. In my example, note the value in the Item Link field; this will come into play later.

Next, navigate to make.powerapps.com, expand the Dataverse section, and click on Tables. After the page loads, click the All link under Tables, then search for approval. If you search for approval and do not get a result, make sure you click the All link.



Open the Approval table; in it, you will see your approval, possibly more depending on how old your environment is or if many people in your company are using approvals. When looking at the data, the takeaway is what is stored in the table and what can be used in the flow that handles the outcome of the approval. In my case, using the Item Link field is key to handling the approval response. With it, I can filter the value and know if I need to take action on the item or not.

When creating the flow that responds to the approval, you can filter it at the design level or in the trigger settings. I went with the trigger setting due to the number of approvals that could be firing across my organization in our default tenant. Why do you need to filter it? Just assume other approvals might be writing to the same dataverse table.

Trigger Conditions

@contains(triggerBody()?['msdyn_flow_approval_itemlink'],'https://www.sharepointed.com/stuff/')

@not(equals(triggerBody()?['msdyn_flow_approval_result'], null))

The above conditions filter the value I passed in the create approval flow (Item Link) and if the item has been approved or rejected.

Here is an overview of the flow that handles the outcome of the approval. I mixed dataverse connector types due to an issue with the trigger condition not working with the green dataverse connector. In the Expand Query field, I used the Fetch XML builder to query over to the Approval Response table to get the comment field; not used in the example, but nonetheless, it’s there. From the Get a row by ID action, the response of the approval is available to use to handle the outcome (Result) of the approval.

To my knowledge, there is no reason why you can’t create an approval that is active for months, if not years.

Notes:
1) You can access and review the approval records using PowerBI, Flow, Access, ___
2) You can bulks update the records using PowerShell, Flow, Access (be real careful), __
3) You can pass items in the Details field, then parse them out when handling the approval. Here is one simple example where I’m passing a SharePoint item ID from the approval and parsing it in the response flow:



Response flow compose statement that parses the Details field.


Expression: last(split(triggerBody()?[‘msdyn_flow_approval_details’],’**SPItemID:** ‘))




YES, this is a lot, but the general idea is simple; create an approval and handle the response.