Create Approval Process For SharePoint Online List Items Using Microsoft Flow

The general availability of Microsoft Flow was announced on October 31 2016 by Stephen Siciliano in this blog. Flow makes it easier to automate the business processes and Microsoft is investing a great amount of time in developing Power Apps and Flow, as it is going to play a huge role in the future, which is stated by the official product update. Microsoft Flow is a cloud-based service that makes it simple to automate common tasks and business processes across your applications and services, such as - Office 365, Slack, Drop Box,, Dynamics 365, and many more. You can visit the Microsoft Flow  site to get first-hand experience of Flow.

In case you have not signed up for Microsoft Flow, it can be done pretty easily from the Flow Site. 

In this article, we will see how to trigger an approval process when an item is added to the list using Microsoft Flow. 

SharePoint Prerequisites

As the first step, let's create a SharePoint List that will hold the items to be approved.

From the list, select "Create a Flow" option.

It will open the flow options available. Select "Send approval email when a new item is added".

Create Flow

This will open the starting point of the template that will enable the configuration of approval email. Ensure that the tick mark is present against both the components – Outlook and SharePoint. Otherwise a sign in button will be present against it. Click on "Continue".

It will open the default flow action steps for sending approval mail when an item is added to SharePoint List.

The step ‘When a new item is created’ will have Site URL and List name which will be set to the SharePoint Online site and the List where the items are added. ‘Send approval email’ action should be configured to the receiver’s email id which will be set as a column in the SharePoint List.

Now once the approval email has been triggered the approver will have to either approve or reject it. Based on the outcome we will have to update back the SharePoint List Item.

So in the ‘emailScope’ action, check if the Value is ‘Approve’. If so, we will send an approved mail to the creator of the list item saying the item is approved as shown below.

At the same time, we can do another action when the item is approved, and update back to the SharePoint List item with an approved status. To do that, add the below action and configure it.

Specify ‘SharePoint-Update item’.

In the fields, set the ‘Approved?’ status column to Yes.

Now, we are done with the creation of the flow. Click on "Create Flow" to complete the process.

Finally, the flow is published and running.

Test the Flow

Add a new item to the SharePoint List. This will start the flow.

It also generates an approval email that is sent to the approver.

Once the approver approves it, a success email stating that it is approved is triggered back to the creator of the item.

It also updates the SharePoint List item with the Status ‘Approved?’ as ‘Yes’.

Now, if we head over to the My Flows section, we can see all the created flows

We can click on the desired flow and if needed we can update it and select ‘Update flow’.

We can conditionally switch On/Off the workflow as well.

The inverted exclamation mark will give the recent runs of the flow and the details if we click on it.


Thus, we saw how to configure Microsoft Flow to Trigger an Approval process when a List Item is added in SharePoint Online List.

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