Flows make it easy to automate workflows that request approvals and act on responses to them. Currently, flow runs time-out after 30 days, causing any pending steps (like approvals) to time-out as well. While this isn’t a problem for most approvals, there are cases where responding to an approval can take longer than 30 days.
Creating long running approval flows
With approvals stored in the Common Data Service, you can now create flows that act on responses to approval requests, even after the original flow run has timed-out. To do this, we will use two flows – one to send an approval request and the other to run business logic on the outcome of the approval once responses to it have been received.
Step 1: Build a flow that sends an approval.
Begin by adding the ‘Create an Approval’ action in your first flow . This action, in addition to sending approval requests, also creates a record in the Approval entity of the Common Data Service. This record is what enables us to run business logic based on the outcome of the approval, even after the flow run ends.
In the screenshot below, the definition of our first flow contains just two steps - one to manually trigger the flow using a flow button, and the second to create an approval. Note that once the approval is created, the flow run ends.
Flow 1: Create an approval
Step 2: Build a flow to run business logic on the outcome of an approval
In this step, we’ll build a Flow that runs when an approval record in the Common Data Service is updated, checks the Result field of the approval (which stores the Outcome of the approval request) and executes business logic accordingly.
Begin by creating a new Flow that starts with the ‘When a record is updated’ trigger of the Common Data Service connector and set the Entity Name field to ‘Approvals’. To make sure we only run this flow when the Result field of the approval updated, select the 'msdyn_flow_approval_result' in the dropdown for the Attribute Filters Item
Flow 2: Trigger the flow when the result field of an approval record is updated
Let's say that onve the flow is triggered (i.e., an approval has been responded to and has an outcome), we want to do the following:
- Get the email address of the requestor
- Send an email notifying them of the outcome.
To get the user that requested the approval, we use the ‘Get record’ action of the Common Data Service connector, set Entity Name field to ‘Users’ and the Item identifier field to the Owner field from the list of dynamics values of the ‘When a record is updated’ trigger
Flow 2: Get information about the requester
To send them an email that’s worded based on the outcome of the approval, we add a condition that checks if the value in the Result field is ‘Approve’ and then use the ‘Send an email’ action to craft messages for when a request is approved and rejected respectively
Flow 2: Send an email based on the approval outcome
Here's our complete flow definition that runs when an approval has been responded to, and sends an email to the requestor based on its outcome:
Flow 2: Flow to run business logic based on an approvals outcome