What is a workflow rule?
A workflow rule will automatically take action when a record meets specified criteria.
You could create a workflow rule to email the strategic accounts team public group when an opportunity is greater than 100,000 USD.
What is an approval process?
An approval process takes action on a record based on user feedback. Whereas a workflow rule automatically takes action based on record criteria, an approval process is manually initiated by the user.
The administrator configures the approval process, determining conditions that the record must meet in order to be submitted for approval, who must approve the record, and what actions take place as a result of approval, recall, or rejection.
All opportunities with a discount greater than 10% must be approved by the account executive’s manager prior to shipping. All opportunities with a discount greater than 15% must be approved by the VP of Sales prior to quote approval.
What actions can workflow rules and approval processes perform?
Workflow rules and approval processes reference the same bank of actions, and can perform the following:
- Create a task record
- Send an email
- Update a field
- Send an outbound message (used for integrations)
Workflow rules execute when the evaluation and rule criteria are both met.
One of 3 evaluation criteria can be selected:
The workflow rule will only fire if it meets the rule criteria when the record is created.
2. created, and every time it’s edited
The workflow rule will fire any time a record is saved and meets the rule criteria.
* Cannot be used in conjunction with time-based workflow actions.
3. created, and any time it’s edited to subsequently meet criteria
When this option is selected, the workflow rule will only fire the first time that the record meets the specified criteria. On subsequent edits, if the record continues to meet the criteria, it will not trigger the rule again.
However, if the record is modified to no longer meet the rule criteria, then edited once again and does meet the rule criteria, it will fire again.
A workflow rule has been created that emails the VP of Sales when an opportunity is Closed/Lost; the rule is set to execute every time a record is “created, and any time it’s edited to subsequently meet criteria”.
Bill is a sales rep working a deal. After a long negotiation with a prospect, Bill ultimately loses the deal. He marks the deal as Closed/Lost, and the workflow rule sends an email to the VP of sales. The VP requests that Bill add additional information to the opportunity about why they lost the deal.
Bill updates the opportunity (which is already closed/lost); this subsequent update does not trigger another email to the VP of sales. However, if the workflow rule were set to “created, and every time it’s edited”, this update would trigger another email alert.
The prospect calls Bill and asks him to resubmit his proposal as their other vendor fell through. Bill updates the opportunity stage to “Contract Negotiation”. Ultimately, Bill once again loses the deal.
He once again updates the stage to “Closed/Lost” – this update does trigger a second workflow notification to the VP of sales.
The reason that this update triggers an email notification is that it did not meet the workflow criteria prior to the update (as the stage was “Contract Negotiation”). Thus “any time it’s edited to subsequently meet criteria” effectively means “any time it’s edited and did not previously meet workflow criteria”.
The rule criteria can either be determined by specified field values or via formula evaluation:
Time-Dependent Workflow Actions
Time-dependent workflow actions are scheduled to execute at a specified time after the workflow rule itself has triggered.
I want to send a notification to the opportunity owner to follow up with the client 30 days after an opportunity is marked Closed/Won. The criteria for workflow execution is the condition “Won = TRUE” – however – the execution of the action (sending the email) must take place 30 days after that condition is met.
Time-based workflow actions are structured as follows:
Workflow rule –> Time Trigger –> Workflow Action
When the workflow rule executes, the workflow actions within the specified time trigger will fire accordingly.
If the record is edited and no longer meets the workflow criteria, pending workflow actions are unscheduled.
Limitations and considerations:
- Modifying an active time-based workflow rule can be tricky. Deactivating the workflow rule does not remove pending time-based actions that the workflow rule previously scheduled for future execution.
- Likewise, adding workflow actions to an active time-based workflow rule will not retroactively schedule the new actions on records where existing actions are pending.
- Time triggers cannot be added to an active time-based workflow rule.
Approval Process Structure
Each approval process is comprised of the following:
- Entry Criteria – the record must meet this criteria in order to be submitted for approval.
- Initial Submissions Actions – these actions are taken once any record is submitted for approval.
- Approval Steps – each approval step has its own entry criteria, approval actions, and rejection actions.
- Final Approval Actions – these actions are taken once all users (within all approval steps) have granted approval.
- Final Rejection Actions – these actions are taken once any user rejects the approval.
- Recall Actions – these actions are taken when the approval is recalled (assuming that approval process allows approval recall).
Enhancing Approval Reporting
Note that there is no out of the box way to report on approval status or age. Therefore I often add one or both of the following to approval processes:
1. Approval Status field
Picklist field with values:
You’ll need to add the custom field, and field updates to each corresponding section of the approval process:
2. Approval Submission Date
Date/time field, updated to “NOW()” via approval action within initial submission actions:
Approval age can be added via formula once you have the date captured, as shown above.