Business process designer > BPMN processes > Graphical elements / Approval


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The Approval activity is used to create document routes. It represents those steps of a process where an employee (for example, a manager) approves or rejects a document. ELMA365 automatically creates a task to review the document and creates an approval sheet which contains the name of the approver and the decision. Tip: not only documents but also app items and files can be sent for approval.

Set up the Approval activity

All the settings are managed in three tabs: General, Deadline, Schedule in Calendar, Connectors, and Signature Settings. Here you can name the task, set a deadline, define the approval logic, add the task to the executor's calendar, enable the signature, etc.    

To open the settings, double-click on the Approval shape on the process diagram.

начало внимание

Make sure that you have added a process context variable that will store the object sent for approval.

конец внимание

General tab


The General tab features general information about the approval task:

  • Name*. Enter a name that will be displayed in the process diagram. We recommend choosing a short yet informative name to make the process diagram easy to read.
  • Task name*. Enter a text that the task executor will see in their task list or on the task page. You can add a context variable to the name to make it more detailed. To do that, click on the + sign in the right corner of the field.
  • Item to send for approval*. Specify the context variable that will store the file or app item that is sent for approval.
  • Approval type. This option appears only if a user group or a department is specified as executor in swimlane settings. The task will be assigned to all the users who belong to the user group or department, and the system's behavior will depend on how you set up the connectors and the approval type:
    • Parallel. The approval task will be simultaneously assigned to all executors included in the swimlane. Depending on connector settings, ELMA365 will either wait until every executor reviews the document or the process will go to the next step as soon as one of the executors approved or rejected the document.
    • Sequential. The task will be assigned consequently to all the executors one by one. The process will go to the next step only when all the employees will accomplish the task.  With connector settings,  you can define how the system must behave if someone rejects the document.

Please note that in a dynamic swimlane the tasks will be assigned in the same order as users were specified in the user-type variable. In a static swimlane, the sequence is random.

  • Leave only actual participants. Remove from the approval sheet those users who were assigned with the approval task but had neither approved nor rejected the document.
  • Write the output variable. Specify a String type variable that will be used to store the output of the current operation.

The following examples will help you understand how to use approval types in different cases.

Example 1.

Example 2.

Example 3.

Deadline tab


On this tab, you can set the due date for the task as well as specify the system behavior in case the task is not completed on time.

There are two ways to set the deadline:

  • Exact time. Specify the number of days, hours or minutes that the executor has to complete the task. The business calendar can be taken into account;

If the approval task belongs to a swimlane with multiple executors, each of the executors will have the specified number of days, hours, and minutes to complete the task.

  • Variable. Sometimes it is needed to complete the approval by a certain moment, for example, by the date when an employee has to get back to the customer with a reviewed document. By this time all the approvers have to either approve or reject the document. In this case, you can use a context variable of the date/time type to define the deadline for the approval task.

If the approval task belongs to a swimlane with multiple executors, and a variable is used to define the deadline, all the executors will have to complete their tasks by this moment, otherwise, the task will be overdue.

In the Notification field, you can select users who will be notified if the executor fails to complete the approval task on time. You can select the current user, a context variable (for example, the process initiator), a user group or an org chart item.

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The Interrupt field allows you to specify which path the process flow should take if the executor fails to complete the task on time.

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This escalation connector is marked with the timer icon  on the process diagram. The process takes this path if the set time is over but the executor hadn't marked the task as completed. The other connectors will not be activated.

For example, let's say that the employee from the Legal Department didn't close the contract approval task on time. The process flow will take the escalation connector and assign the next task to the CEO.



Schedule in Calendar tab

This tab appears if a deadline is set for the task, and is used to add the task to the executor's calendar.


To avoid overscheduling, you can schedule the task only for some of the days. Let's say that the approval deadline is in a week. You can schedule the task to appear in the calendar only on the last three days of the week:

  1. Add Date/Time variables to the context. They will store the start and end days of the period the task will be displayed in the calender.
  2. Add a script on the process diagram to calculate the values of these variables.
  3. On the Schedule in Calendar tab, select the variables in the Start date and End date fields.


Connectors tab


Here you can define the approval logic: specify the conditions that define which connector the process flow should take. Do not forget to specify a default connector, it is necessary to avoid creating a bottleneck. If none of the specified conditions is met, the process still needs to go further using the default connector.

Note that if an escalation connector is set up, the other connectors can be activated only before the task's deadline is reached.

начало внимание

The approval task form has only two buttons: Approve and Reject, regardless of how many outgoing connectors the activity has on the process diagram.

конец внимание

To open the connector’s settings, click on its name.

General tab

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  • Name. We recommend giving a short and clear name since it will be displayed on the transition button on the task form.
  • Description. In this field, enter the text of the tooltip.


Conditions tab

Specify the conditions under which the process should go down this connector.

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  • You can set up multiple conditions and use a Logical operator to check them. If the result is True, then the process flow will follow this connector:
    • AND. The result is True if both conditions are met.
    • OR. The result is True if at least one condition is met.
    • AND NOT. The result is True if at least one of the conditions is not met.
    • OR NOT. The result is True if both conditions are not met.

Please note that the conditions are checked in the same order as they are listed in the connector's settings.

  • Operand 1, 2. Here you have to select a process context variable or enter a value (for example, the approval or rejection percentage).
  • Operation. Here you can define the comparison operator that will be used to check the conditions by comparing the operands.

If the swimlane where the approval task is located includes several executors, the conditions of the connector are checked each time one of them completes the task.

Signature Settings tab

On this tab, you can enable and set up the use of digital signatures in the Approval task. If a user clicks Approve, a pop-up appears with the following options: Sign attributes, Sign document file, Sign decision.

Set up these options.



Enable signing. You can disable it by selecting Do not use. Then the user completing the task will only need to click Approve without having to sign the document.

To enable signing after a user clicks Approve, select one of the following options:

  • Optional. The Sign option is by default disabled. Instead of Next, the user sees the Approve button, and can approve the document without signing it. However, if needed, the user can check the Sign box and then click Next to sign the document;
  • Preferred. The Sign option is by default enabled but the user can disable it;
  • Required. The Sign option is by default enabled, and the user cannot disable it. The task cannot be completed without signing.

Next, select the option for signing document attributes.

Sign attributes. Defines whether the approver needs to sign the app item’s attributes:

  • Do not use. The option is disabled. It is not displayed in the Approval task.
  • Optional. The option is displayed in the approval window, but it is not selected by default. The user can select it if needed.
  • Preferred. The option is displayed in the approval window, and it is selected by default. The user can deselect it if needed.
  • Required. The option is selected by default and cannot be disabled. The user cannot approve the document without singing its attributes.


Sign document file. The settings for this field are the same as for Sign attributes.

Sign decision. The settings for this field are the same as for Sign attributes. If the user signs the decision, the system will generate a text file with information about the approval task, the item sent for approval, the approver’s decision and comment, and the user who was approving the document.


Example of setting up an approval route

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