Using SharePoint Content Approval

By:   |   Updated: 2010-01-28   |   Comments   |   Related: > SharePoint Document Management


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Problem

There are many users collaborating on document creation with MOSS 2007 or WSS3. It is critical that some level of control or 'gatekeeping' exists. Is there are way to manage this so that everyone knows when a document has been finalized and approved?

Solution

Yes. Using SharePoint workflow is one option, however if the process is simple, the objective can be accomplished by using the built-in "Content Approval" system. Though it's possible to integrate SharePoint workflow with the Content Approval system, it is a separate feature and can work independently from workflow. This article discusses only the Content Approval system. It also assumes using the feature on a document library, though it works the same on any content list type.

Go to the main Document Library Settings.

1 GoTo Document Library Settings

Select "Versioning settings".

2 Version Settings

For "Require content approval for submitted items", select "Yes".

3 Require Content Approval

For version control, there are some options. The first two options are self-evident. The last option is a variation of the 2nd option, and adds a status called "draft". This means that a document can go through multiple iterations, even before being submitted for approval. Each iteration gets numbered with a decimal until the document is submitted and approved. Once approved, the major version number gets incremented. (This is hard to explain and probably more difficult to understand until you use each option at least once.) Don't worry too much about it now.

4 Create a version

This is an interesting option. It defines who can see what for each content approval status.

5 Who can see draft items

This feature is not critical for the Content Approval system, but it's always a good idea to require documents to be 'checked out'.

6 Require Check Out

Once Content Approval is turned on, you will see a new "Approval Status" field in the library automatically. By default, all previously uploaded documents become "Approved". But you can revert the statuses manually back to draft or pending.

7 Approval Status Column
So, who has permission to now approve documents. As it turns out, there is a special SharePoint permission for this purpose. Coincidentally, it's called "Approve". Your document approver(s) will have this permission. Users that you want to be able to submit documents (but not approved them) will get "Contribute" permission.

Permission setup for Approver:

8 Approver Permission

Permissions setup for Contributor:

9 Contribute Permission

To revise or otherwise downgrade an "Approved" document, select "Unpublish this version" from the document dropdown. This can be done by either Approvers or Contributors.

0 Unpublish

If you are using both minor and major versioning (with the decimals), you submit documents for approval by "Publishing" them.

1 Publish

To "Approve" (or Reject) documents, select the "Approve/reject" option from the document dropdown. Only "Approvers" have the permission access to fulfill this option.

2 ApproveReject

The Approver chooses the appropriate, and can even add a comment.

3 Approve

Now let's add one more refinement. We'll group the documents by approval status. From the "View" dropdown, select "Modify this View".

4 Modify View

Then uncheck the "Approval Status" columns from the displayed list of columns. (Don't worry, this is what we are grouping by.)

5 Uncheck Approval Status

In the "Group By" section, select "Approval Status". Leave the "Show group in ascending order" option.

6 Group By

Here's a quick look at the library grouped by Content Approval status. Notice, in this case, "ascending order" in the grouping means something other than alphabetical. The documents in "Draft" status are works-in-progress. The "Pending" documents have been submitted for approval. And the documents at the top are "Approved" documents. This is a natural sequence, and is what is meant by "ascending order" in the grouping.

7 Library View
Next Steps
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About the author
MSSQLTips author Rob Fisch Rob Fisch has worked with SQL Server since version 6.5 as a dba, developer, report writer and data warehouse designer.

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Article Last Updated: 2010-01-28

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