Chatter Approvals: Almost Managerial Bliss
Chatter Approvals places notifications of an approval process submission into Chatter, combining the user asking for approval and a template displaying fields along with an Approve and Reject button. Also, like other Chatter feed posts, there are comments and the ability to like the post. Chatter Approvals became generally available in the Winter '12 release, so it’s ready to be turned on in your org today. I played with Chatter Approvals on Opportunities; let’s see how it stacks up.
Chattering Your Approval
Imagine a situation where a manager receives tons of approval requests from her team. She gets these in the form of emails or on her home screen, some of these records are familiar to her. If she has questions about a field’s value, she would have to email each person’s submission to request more details or start a new conversation in Chatter. Now, with Chatter Approvals, managers can collaborate and discuss an approval directly at the point where it is approved or rejected. This improves visibility to managers and their teams, also reducing the amount of time and channels that an approver needs to spend for each record.
Set It Up
Chatter Approval are very simple to set up. Administrators only need to go to the org wide Chatter settings to enable Chatter Approvals. For those orgs that currently have a bunch of approval processes, there is no additional setup required by administrators to have users to begin seeing approval requests in Chatter. That being said, it is important for administrators to do a little work to make this feature more meaningful. Approval processes can have post templates, which allow certain fields and their values to be included in the approval request on Chatter. An example of this is the screenshot of A Big Deal’s approval request, which displays the opportunity name, account name, amount, and close date.
Post templates are simple to create and are found in the Workflow & Approvals setup tree. Create a new post template and choose the object that is going to get the approval. The next screen has a list of fields from the object that can appear in the Chatter Approval feed post. Remember to include relevant fields for the approval processes that they have setup (e.g. discount percentage greater than 10% should include what the discount field’s value is in the post template).
Despite being a step in the right direction, there are some nice-to-haves that I would like to see implemented before I give this an A grade. I would love to see Chatter Approvals be included for desktop Chatter clients as it is a great tool. It does show that an approval has been requested, though points managers to the browser and is a hindrance to workflow. Also, it would be great for on-the-go managers and salespeople to manage their Chatter Approvals from mobile clients (or at least tablet Chatter clients) so adding approvals to Chatter Mobile is a must.
So what’s the final grade? I’m giving Chatter Approvals a B+. It has some work left to get the A, but otherwise is a great addition to a social and collaborative enterprise. Have a neat use of Chatter Approvals or want to talk more about it? Feel free to send a tweet to @RogerMitchell, or reply via our Facebook page or Disqus below.