Salesforce Approval Process: Simpler Config Than You Think

As you continue working in Salesforce and get a feel for building simple configurations, don’t be afraid to tackle building an approval process. Approval processes are used all over the place in different companies for different important reasons, so why should Salesforce be any different? Before you think Approvals in Salesforce are too advanced for you, take a look at the outline we’ve created below. Building an approval process is not as challenging as you think, and they can truly make a difference in the way your company handles approvals. If you have any kind of item that may need to be approved, you should consider building the Salesforce approval process.

A Relatable Example

Let’s say your company wants managers to approve of all high-value deals. This makes sense as high-value deals are important and upper management should have their eyes on them to assist in making the deal happen! A manager may need to look at the deal to confirm that all of the information is accurate and there has been adequate communication with the team members or client involved on the deal.

In Salesforce, using Opportunities to manage deals, you can create an approval process where once a high-value deal reaches a specific Stage, managers have to approve of the Opportunity record before any further actions or edits can take place related to that record. Let’s say that in this case, a high-value deal is one that has an Opportunity Amount of over $20,000. Let’s also say that once an Opportunity has reached the Stage “Proposal/Price Quote”, the Opportunity is starting to get serious enough that it’s time for a manager to check the information and communication related to it. We can set up our approval processes with this criteria easily. Let’s get started:

Use The Wizard!

The first decision you have to make regarding Approval Process setup is to choose the right wizard to use. In this case, we are going to use the JumpStart Wizard. With this wizard, some default options are already selected for you, making it a simpler and easier tool to get started with. In the future, when you need to create more complex approval processes, try using the Standard Wizard.

Salesforce Approval Process

Picture Credit: Salesforce

After selecting the Jump Start Wizard, you are prompting to Name your approval process. Remember to pick a name that is concise and explains what your approval process does. The Unique Name will auto-populate when you enter the Name. The Unique Name is the API name of the approval process, or how you will recognize it when creating change sets or referencing it in custom Apex code. We’ve named ours, “Managers Must Approve High-Value Opptys”.

If you want a button to appear on records that says “Submit for Approval”, then check the “Add the Submit for Approval button and Approval History related list to all Opportunity page layouts” box. We will do this in our case.

Approval Assignment Email Templates define the email that the approver will receive when a record is submitted for approval. In this case, the User who is informed that a record needs their approval is the Manager of the Opportunity record owner. You can create a custom email template to use here, or if you leave this field blank, an automatic approver email will be sent to the approver notifying them that the record needs approval.

Salesforce Approval Process

Picture Credit: Salesforce

Next, we want to fill out the criteria for a record to actually enter the approval process. This relates back to our scenario: We want Opportunities to qualify for the approval process when the Opportunity Stage is “Proposal/Price Quote” and when the Opportunity Amount is greater than $20,000.

Salesforce Approval Process

Picture Credit: Salesforce

To keep things simple, we will set the approval process to Automatically assign an approver using a standard or custom hierarchy field: Manager. This way an Opportunity record Owner’s “Manager” is the User who will approve any Opportunity submitted for approval by the owner.

Salesforce Approval Process

Picture Credit: Salesforce

Upon clicking Save, you have created a single step approval process! However, it is not ready to be used yet. Although it is not required to do so, Salesforce recommends that you add other steps to your approval process to ensure that it is working properly and takes all sorts of approval cases into account.  

Salesforce Approval Process

Picture Credit: Salesforce

You can add these next steps in the Salesforce Approval Process Detail page. This includes adding steps to create multi-step approval processes, what should happen when a record reaches the final step of the approval process and is rejected, and more. These steps are more advanced but you should still take a look at them to see if any are needed in your approval process.

You’re Almost Ready To Start Using Salesforce Approval Process

Finally, you should conduct careful testing to ensure that the approval process is working as expected. This includes testing to ensure that the approval process emails are getting sent as well. To make testing emails easier, you should create and submit Opportunities for approval as a single User, then log into that single User’s Manager to submit or reject the record in the approval process. Another tip is to change the Manager’s email in their User page to your own email address so you can ensure that the emails are getting sent. Remember to always build new config in a Sandbox org – you wouldn’t want to change the email address of an actual User in Production!

Inspire Planner is a user-friendly project management app for Salesforce

The Differences Between Record Types and Page Layouts… and Why You Should Know Them

Many new Admins and Users make the same mistake: Creating too many record types. Why is this a problem? Too many record types can make your org more complex than it needs to be. As new Admin comes along, or as changes are needed for your org, the more technical debt you have, the more time will be wasted in the future on people trying to understand or change the org.

You probably need fewer record types than you think. This is because most of the time, you can achieve the desired results you need with page layouts instead. Oftentimes, Users will create completely new record types with a new page layout, when all they need to do is create just a new page layout. We will go over what exactly record types and page layouts are, what their key differences are, and how you can get started building them today.

First, What is a Page Layout?

Record Types and Page LayoutsPage Layouts let you design the actual visual layout of a record. They include options of where to place fields, buttons, custom links, related lists, and more. You can control which fields are seen on the record, which fields are Read-Only, and which fields are required to be filled out before saving the record. However, it is important to note, that even if a User cannot see fields on a page layout, they can still see the field in other places in Salesforce, like in reports. If you want a field 100% hidden from a User, you will have to update the field’s field level security.

Okay, Now What is a Record Type?

Record Types help control what business processes, picklist values, and page layouts are available to different users for different reasons. They are easy to create and can be assigned to different Users. Let’s say your company keeps track of US Accounts and UK Accounts in separate ways. This may include keeping track of shipping preferences on the Account level. Let’s say that with US Accounts, you have 3 picklist options: Rail, Air, and Truck. But with UK Accounts, you want to add one more option: Sea. This is one case where you may want to create two different record types because you need two different picklists for the same field.

So, When Do I Use a Page Layout and When Do I Use A Record Type?

You should use a record type (with a page layout!) when you need records to have different:

  • Processes – Like a Sales Process
  • Picklist Values – Like “Shipping Type” in our above example
  • Page Layouts – Use different page layouts to reveal the different picklist options and further differentiate between record types

You should use only page layouts if you just want different fields shown to different Users. Even if you have 10 fields that only Marketing Users should see, you still don’t need a separate Marketing record type, unless you need some of the fields to contain different picklist values. You should use a page layout when you need records to look different for different Users. Use page layouts if:

  • You want some fields required to be populated for certain Users
  • You want to hide/reveal certain:
    • Related lists
    • Fields*
    • Buttons
    • Custom Links
    • S-controls
    • Visualforce Components
  • You want to make certain fields “Read Only” for certain Users

*Note: This is not a permanent way to hide fields! Users can still access them in Salesforce, like through reports

Assigning Record Types Page Layouts

Now that you understand the differences between page layouts and record types, you can start creating and assigning them. If you have already created the different record types and page layouts, you can navigate to a specific Profile type to assign them. In a Profile, you can see an overview of all of the different page layouts assigned per record.

Record Types and Page Layouts

Picture Credit: Salesforce

Sometimes, the page layout assignment will vary per record type. For example, in the image above, for the High Volume Customer Portal Type profile, all Accounts have a page layout called “Account Layout”. However, for Idea records, the page layouts vary by assignment. That means that there are multiple record types for the idea object that may have different page layouts.

Record Types and Page Layouts

Picture Credit: Salesforce

To apply existing page layouts to the different record types for the Idea object, click on Edit Assignment.

Test Thoroughly!

With page layouts, you are controlling who has access to seeing and potentially editing which fields on a record. With this being the case, it’s important to thoroughly test new page layouts ensuring only the most important fields and information are shown to the right Users. Sometimes, Users can get overloaded with the amount of information on a page. This can be discouraging and even make Users more prone to making mistakes when inputting data. Remember, taking a field off of a page layout doesn’t keep a User from having access to that field as they can still see it on reports.

A good way to test how your page layouts look to different Users is to actually log into Salesforce and test as that User. This way, you seeing a record exactly how Users of that Profile are seeing it (depending on your sharing rules too). You can even click around as that User to see which fields are editable, but remember to not make any changes if you’re in Production!

Record Types and Page Layouts

Picture Credit: Salesforce

In order to log in as another User, you have to ensure that you have been granted login access or that you are a System Administrator with permission to log in as any user. To set this as a Sys Admin, search and select “Login Access Policies” in the Quick Search bar. You will be taken to the Login Access Policies page where you can adjust the settings accordingly.

Inspire Planner is a user-friendly project management app for Salesforce