Announcing Approval by Zapier

  • 11 November 2020
  • 12 replies
  • 863 views
Announcing Approval by Zapier
Userlevel 4

TL;DW -- today we're soft-launching a new app on Zapier called "Approval by Zapier" which allows you to insert an Approval step in the middle of your Zap, halting each task until a human (you, or a colleague) clicks the "Approve" button in your Approval Inbox.

TL;DR -- Check out the demo video here (it’s also embedded at the bottom of this post): https://youtu.be/JxcOLUuKLck

Hey folks, Bryan here, I'm one of the co-founders and CTO of Zapier. I'd like to introduce a new app / feature I've been working on at Zapier for the last few weeks called "Approval by Zapier". I hope you'll find it helpful for your business processes, and I encourage you to give it a try and provide feedback. I'll be continuing to improve it over the next couple of months. Here's a little background:

Zapier's mission is to democratize automation. We want automation to be more accessible to everyone, regardless of their technical skill or knowledge of APIs. However, it's clear that not *everything* is fully automatable. Sometimes you really need a human to render a judgement or make a decision before you continue an automation or workflow.

That's where "Approval by Zapier" comes in. With it, you can change any Zap into a semi-automated process simply by adding an Approval step anywhere in your Zap. Then, as tasks start running, you can monitor your Approval Inbox and click "Approve" when you'd like a task to continue, or "Reject" in order to halt that task.

The way the Approval step works is that preceding steps will run like normal, while those after the Approval step are dependent on someone clicking "Approve" in order for them to continue. You can choose which fields you'd like to display in the Inbox, showing only those that will be most helpful in deciding whether to approve the task. The Approval Inbox (where all your tasks pending your approval will wait) is a private, but shareable link — perfect for sharing with colleagues (even if they don't have a Zapier account!).

Some of the reasons you might want to use an Approval step and Approval Inbox today:

  • HR / IT: employees may make a purchase request, vacation request, etc. but the department needs to manually review and approve it before it can continue.

  • Marketing: team members may submit social media posts that are manually approved later by the marketing team before being posted publicly.

  • Sales: lead forms come in and need to be reviewed, perhaps only Approving the best leads after a manual review.

  • QA: submitted items like transcriptions are proof-read for quality before continuing.

  • Customer Service: customers may make requests for discounts or refunds that need to be manually reviewed by a representative before approving.

  • ...and so much more!

Known limitations as of mid-November 2020:

  • Editing the data in Approval Inboxes isn't possible.

  • Viewing all tasks across all Approval Inboxes isn't possible, so you'll have to look at each Approval Inbox individually.

  • Moving Zaps with Approval steps between teams, folders, or users may cause errors.

  • Getting automatic alerts for pending Approvals isn't possible (though you could add an SMS, Slack, email, etc. step before the Approval step!).

  • Rejecting a task will only skip subsequent steps that use data from the Approval step.

At this point, we're all but guaranteeing bugs and odd behaviors on this soft-launch of Approval by Zapier, so we encourage folks to report any issues they encounter and experiment a bit before using it widely. If you have suggestions on how to make this more useful for you or your company, please share them as well!

To provide either feedback or suggestion, you can fill out the https://zapier.typeform.com/to/ejIlcZUe form.

I hope you enjoy it! -bryan

 


12 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

Very very cool! Excited to try this out. Thanks @bryanhelmig 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Awesome! Looks really great!

One potential concern, so if you downvote it, it’s marked as “halted”, which other actual errors are also marked as “halted”. We even have monitoring zaps set up to alert us when zaps are halted.

It feels like an approval that was manually declined is less of a “halt” and more of a mixture between “filtered/declined” of sorts.

This approval process will result in us having many errors in a sense cropping up, when declining an approval manually shouldn’t really be seen as an “error” of sorts?

Curious too if there’s a way to get an aggregated inbox of all approvals, or if each approval action is a separate URL. If the latter, it would be cool if we could also have one “master” inbox of sorts across the entire account as I can totally see having 5-6 different inboxes and losing track of them easily.

Super excited to try this out and thanks for adding an awesome feature @bryanhelmig + team! :)

Userlevel 3
Badge +2

Once your zap reaches an approval step, does. it send me an email with a link to my “inbox” or do I need to manually check this “inbox” everyday?

Userlevel 4

@AndrewJDavison_Luhhu let us know what you end up using it for!

@alex thanks for the feedback, definitely will look into this for the future!

@Matt the default behavior is silence, you can of course add an Email step before the Approval step. So the example from my video might look like this: Typeform → Email → Approval → Twitter.

Userlevel 3
Badge +2

@AndrewJDavison_Luhhu let us know what you end up using it for!

@alex thanks for the feedback, definitely will look into this for the future!

@Matt the default behavior is silence, you can of course add an Email step before the Approval step. So the example from my video might look like this: Typeform → Email → Approval → Twitter.

I guess the extra “email to me” step is just another for Zapier to cash in on. ha ha :wink:

Userlevel 4

@Matt while sending common notifications like emails, SMS, etc. are certainly not free, it’s more about launching an MVP and seeing what folks request vs. delaying the soft-launch to build out lots of features ahead of time.

That said, we can definitely explore some notifications, I know some folks are already interested in browser or mobile push notifications. Is that preferable over email? What about Slack? SMS? Frankly, we’re not sure, so you tell us!

Userlevel 3
Badge +2

@Matt while sending common notifications like emails, SMS, etc. are certainly not free, it’s more about launching an MVP and seeing what folks request vs. delaying the soft-launch to build out lots of features ahead of time.

That said, we can definitely explore some notifications, I know some folks are already interested in browser or mobile push notifications. Is that preferable over email? What about Slack? SMS? Frankly, we’re not sure, so you tell us!

I see email as the lowest common denominator. SMS, push, browser, I see those more as fluff.

Userlevel 1

 

That said, we can definitely explore some notifications, I know some folks are already interested in browser or mobile push notifications. Is that preferable over email? What about Slack? SMS? Frankly, we’re not sure, so you tell us!

This is awesome! I recently built out a workaround for a manual approval functionality which ended up being pretty bulky, so this is very timely. We’re sending automatic SMS and Email notifications to customers at multiple stages of the production process, but we want to double-verify that the project has reached those stages before sending the messages (lest we appear fools :sweat_smile: ). It’s a very mobile retail operation, so SMS or push notifications would be most helpful for our use case.

Userlevel 3
Badge +1

Very nice.  Now I need to think of a few places to try this out.

Userlevel 3
Badge

@Matt while sending common notifications like emails, SMS, etc. are certainly not free, it’s more about launching an MVP and seeing what folks request vs. delaying the soft-launch to build out lots of features ahead of time.

That said, we can definitely explore some notifications, I know some folks are already interested in browser or mobile push notifications. Is that preferable over email? What about Slack? SMS? Frankly, we’re not sure, so you tell us!

Why not output two or three links in this module which we can use in any next step. Option 1, option 2 and option 3. Then we can decide what and how to display in an email with a button or on a website or a Slack message.

Even better, bind the whole thing to a path module and let use decide what to do after option 1 (approval), option 2 (decline) or option 3 (your wildest imagination… or just delay for another day).

This brings the approval out of the Zapier account. Which is also important. Why should others go in to my account for approval within a business process. With the option above this would be awesome for quote approval by leads, invoice approval for finance, etc.

Userlevel 7
Badge +7

Just trying this out now - Love it!

Userlevel 1

Hi folks, I’m Todd, a product designer at Zapier.

Thanks for the feedback above - that’s helpful for us as we evolve this app!

I’m also curious to hear how you’ve used Approvals (or wanted to, but couldn’t for some reason). If you have a moment, I’d love to hear about what you’ve built.

Drop a note in this thread, or grab some time on my calendar.

Thanks and Happy Holidays!

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