Friday, 19 September 2014

Approval workflows in Google Docs & Sheets

Managing document reviews and approvals can be time consuming, but the Worflows add-on in Google Docs and Sheets makes it quick and easy. Simply enter the email address of the reviewer, along with a message, and they are notified that you want them to review your work. Once they’ve approved it, you’re notified by both email and a message in the Doc or Sheet. This tools is great to use with both students and colleagues. Get students to add you as a reviewer once they’ve finished a draft, or get everyone’s OK on an important document.

How do I get it?

1. Open a Google Doc or Sheet.

2. Select the Add-ons menu and Get add-ons.

3. Locate or search for Workflows.

4. Click the +FREE button to install.

Workflow add-on install

5. Grant the add-on permission to integrate with Google Drive.

How do I use it?

1. Open the Google Doc or Sheet you want to get reviewed and approved.

2. Make sure the people you want to review and approve the document have edit access to it.

3. Select the Add-ons menu > Workflows > Show workflow. The add-on will open in the panel on the right.

4. Enter the email address of the person you want to review and approve the doc. Click Add. Repeat if you require multiple reviewers.

5. Enter a message.

Create workflow request

6. Click Request approval.

7. The list of reviewers and the approval status will be shown.

Workflow request status

What does the reviewer see and do?

1. The reviewer gets an email with content similar to that shown below.

Workflow approval request emaiil

2. After clicking Review document, the reviewer needs to install the Workflows add-on if they do not have it already. They will be prompted to do this when the document opens.
Tip: You may also like to include a note in your review request advising reviewers that they will need to do this.

3. Once the add-on is installed, the reviewer sees the review request in the right-side panel.

Approve or reject request

4. The reviewer can add a return comment and click Approve or Reject.

5. You will receive an email notifying you of the approval status. The workflows panel within your Doc or Sheet will also show the status.

Workflow status email

Workflow approval status in doc


  1. Enrique Sotomayor24 October 2014 at 11:32

    I use Google Documents to develop our quality system and we were missing the approval part.
    I discovered your app, and kind of worked but I cannot find the workflow panel to check the approval status of a document.

    Am I missing something?

    Also, need another tool to approve WITHIN a document, particular lines, let's suppose we have a collaborative spreadsheet, each row belongs to a different protect and once it is complete, the manager has to approve it, I have no other way now than the manager entering his initials and prove it with revision history, but I am looking for something more robust than that.


  2. Simplify Solutions27 October 2014 at 19:16

    Hi Enrique

    You should see the workflow approval panel if you re-open the Workflows add-on from the Add-ons menu.
    Give that a try and let me know how you go.
    I am not aware of any add-ons that provide the approval within a document that you require. The only think I can think of at the moment is to add the content in the document in 'Suggestion' mode, and then the manager could approve the suggestion. This is then tracked in the comments. However, this feature is only available in Google Docs, not sheets.
    You could also write to the creator of the Workflows add-on (via and see if they have any solutions or future plans for the product. Sorry I cannot be more help in this area!

  3. Nice add-on but my only annoyance is that the approver seems to have to select Add-ons > Workflows > Show Workflow every time. The approval panel doesn't automatically open. Any way to do that? Thanks

  4. Simplify Solutions29 October 2014 at 00:17

    Hi Jane
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts - I too find that part annoying!
    I am not aware of any way to do it sorry. You could provide the feedback to the creator (via and see if they have any ideas.

  5. I wanted to test this out but I have 3 questions. First, if I, as the creator of the document, assigns several approvers/recipients, eg. Approver A, Approver B & Approver C. Will Approver A gets the request first, and if Approver A approves, then the approval will flow to Approver B automatically, and then to Approver C only after Approver B approves the request. Or, all 3 approvers get the request at the same time?
    My next question is, are there any limit to how many approvers are allowed in a request?
    My last question is, it is mentioned in the chrome webstore that this is "Secure and Private: All document data is stored within your organization’s Google domain. Neither your document nor any sensitive data is ever sent outside of your domain." What does it mean by my organization's Google domain? The data is still stored on cloud, right?

  6. Simplify Solutions27 November 2014 at 05:15

    Hi Wai
    This is not actually our product, however I will do my best to answer your questions.
    - My understanding is that all three approvers get the request at the same time.
    - I am unsure if there is a limit to the number of approvers, I suggest contacting the creator via to confirm that.
    - Yes, the data is stored in the cloud. However, it is stored as per the contract your organisation as with Google. I think the application creators are referring to the fact that they are not taking your data out of Google and storing it anywhere else.

    I hope this helps!

  7. Hi

    I tested the workflow in google sheets and everything looks fine except the last step. Though the workflow is approved, the status is not reflecting in the workflow panel as in the final step. If I click on show workflow button, it again shows the window of selecting the approver. Where and how will you see the approval status in the google sheet? Am I missing anything here?

  8. Simplify Solutions11 April 2015 at 01:13

    Hi Akila

    I've just tested the add-on in Google Sheets and it worked as expected for me. Once the approver had clicked 'approve' at their end, the workflow panel updated right away with the new status. If it works, you'll definitely see the word 'Approved' in the workflow panel.
    I am unsure what is happening in your situation. Are you using two different accounts to test the approval (I am assuming you are, but just checking). If so, maybe give it another go with a new sheet and see what happens. If there is still no luck, let me know.

  9. i have same problem with akila.
    the problem is when the document already approved by approver, and then we close the document.

    when we reopen the document and click workflow, the view is not the status of document, but it back to select approver view.


  10. Thanks for sharing your experiences Whiee. I have just one some testing and you're right - the review status appears to 'reset' after the document has been approved and then closed. You only see the Approval status (as shown in my screen shots) if you have the document and the workflow pane open at the time it is approved. If you have closed it, you need to rely on the email notifications as evidence of approval.

    I suggest giving feedback to the developer on this issue via the listing in the add-on store.

  11. the solution is i must see my email inbox. :D

    Thanks samantha..


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