Setting up approvals

Some requests might need approval before your team can work on them. For example, a manager might approve leave requests or an IT manager might approve new system accounts. People don't need a Jira Service Management license to approve requests; they just have to be customers of the service desk project.

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Pro tip: Fast-track the time it takes approvers to action pending requests, by inserting Request details and Approval buttons to your approval notifications template, if they aren't there already. See Managing service project notifications.

Approvers view in the customer portal

On this page:

How it works:

  1. A customer creates a request on the customer portal, and selects the approver required by entering the user name or email address. Alternatively, you can hide the approver field from the customer, and set up a defined list of approvers who are required for that request type.
  2. When the request enters the approval status the approver will receive an email.
    1. If the Request details and Approval buttons variables have been added to the approval notifications template, they can view the full details of the request and take action from within the email. 
    2. If the Request details and Approval buttons variables have not been added to the approval notifications template, they can view and action the request through the service desk customer portal. 
  3. The approver can Approve or Decline the request and add an optional comment. The customer receives a standard notification when the request is transitioned out of an approval step, and when the approver leaves a comment.
    1. If declined, the request moves to the next status in the workflow.
    2. If approved, the request moves to the next status in the workflow, and an agent is able to work on it.

Setting up an approval step

To set up an approval step on a workflow for your project, you need to have the Jira administrator global permission.

Here are the steps to get approvals working for your project:

  • Jira Service Management creates the Approvers custom field automatically. If you want to use another field, make sure you have a user picker custom field available in your Jira instance and on the screens used by your project - this is used on the approval step.
  • Add the same user picker custom field to your request type if you want your customers to choose the approver - this will provide the field for your request that allows an approver to be selected.
  • Configure the approvals step on the workflow - this allows you to decide if you require one or multiple approvers, and what happens when the approval is declined or approved.

Detailed steps on setting up an approval are available in the Jira administration documentation.

If you set up your approval step on a status with only two outgoing transitions, they will be used for Approve and Decline. In this case, agents can view requests that require approval, and can modify the approver if required, but they can't change the status until the approver has actioned the request.

If you set up the approval step on a status that has more than two transitions, an agent will be able to transition the request using any of the other transitions that aren't defined as the Approve or Decline transitions. This means the approval step is not enforced.

In certain situations, you may even want to add additional approval steps. For example, if a request needs to be approved by your manager first, and then approved by your finance department. Below are some examples of how you might use approvals:

Request typeApproval fieldApproverNotes
Office equipmentVisible on customer portalCustomer selects approverThe customer should select their manager for approval, as each customer could have a different manager.
Computer softwareHidden from customer portalSet list of approversYou set the list of approvers, this could be several members of your finance team.
FlightsTwo approval steps, one visible, one hiddenFirst approver is selected by customer. Second approver is a set listThe customer can select the first approver, which could be their manager who approves the business case for their trip. The second approver is from a set list (maybe a finance team) that approves the payment of the flights.

Best practice customizations

You can make the approval process more awesome by making some simple customizations to your service project, and that means both you and your customers have a better experience.

  1. Make sure you make the name of your multi-user picker custom field, customer friendly on your request. And add a useful help tip, like how many approvers may be required. This will help ensure your customers provide all the correct information first time. Read up on customizing the fields of your requests for more information on how to do this.
  2. When the approval of a request is declined, consider closing the request straight away. This means that if you're setting up a custom approval step, you should ensure that the transition you select for decline leads to a status in the Done category, and the transition has a post function to set the resolution status.
                                           Workflow showing Declined transition leading to Declined status in the Done category
  • It's good practice for your approvers to add a comment telling the customer why their request has been declined, and what their next steps should be; for example, the customer should open a new request and provide more information regarding their requirements. 

Auto-approve requests

You can use automation rules to auto-approve requests that meet certain conditions. For example, you might auto-approve hardware requests that are under a certain amount.

To set up an auto-approval, create an automation rule with the THEN action auto-approve. For example, any hardware requests created for an item that costs less than $20 are automatically approved, or any software requests over $10,000 are automatically declined.

In the example below, we've set up a rule for our customer reimbursement requests, and if the Customer value is under $50, the request is automatically approved.

For more information, see Automating your service project.

Approval FAQs

Why isn't the field I added to my approval step showing on my customer portal?

Make sure you've added the user picker custom field that's used in the approval step on the workflow to your request type, and it's visible to customers. If it's still not showing, or it's not listed as a field you can add to your requests, check with your Jira administrator to ensure the field is still available on your project's issue screens.

Declined requests are still showing as open in my service project, but they're status shows as Done.

A request will only show as closed when the resolution has been set, so the transition you use to decline the request needs to also set the resolution field. You can achieve this by adding a post function to the transition in your workflow that sets the resolution field of your request. You read up more on post functions on the administration  advanced workflow page.

How do I add, edit or remove approvers on a request?

If you need to change the approvers on a request for any reason, you need to edit the user picker custom field that was added in the approval step. View the request in your service project, and the editable user picker custom field is displayed in the People section of the request. You can make any changes you need to make inline. Note that there is also an Approvals section that lists all approvers; however, you can't make any edits here.

If the field isn't showing, you may need to get a Jira administrator to check the field is still available on your project screens.

How can I keep track of the approvals of a request?

In both your customer portal and your service project, you'll see a list of approvers in the Approvals section.

Customer portalService desk project

A list of appointed approvers appears in the Approvals section, and this section only appears when there are pending approvals for the request.

A list of appointed approvers appears in the Approvals section, under the People section.

When a request is approved, the Approvals section disappears, and details about the approval will be added to the Activity section, e.g Your request was APPROVED and the status changed to Waiting for support.

When a request is approved...

  • The approved request displays in the Past approvals section, withbeside the approver's name.
  • If multiple approvals are required, the request is approved when the minimum number of approvals is reached.
  • The Approvals tab appears in the Activity section, and shows the all the activity involving approvals for the request.
How do my customers know who to add as an approver?

Make sure you add descriptive titles and help text for the approvals field on your portal. This should include details on who the customer should add (such as their manager, or a member of their IT team), and how many approvers. Depending on your customer access settings, your customers may be able to select users or other customers from a drop-down list. Take this into account when adding your title and help text.

Last modified on Oct 6, 2021

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