When configuring notification settings in an approval rule, you choose an event, and specify who you want to receive email notification of that event-notification recipients. A recipient can be any mailbox-enabled user or mail-enabled group. There are also a number of options allowing you to select recipients based on their role, such as operation requestor, approver, manager of operation requestor, or manager of operation target object. A single rule can be configured to notify of one or more events, with an individual list of recipients being defined for each event.
Along with an event to notify of and notification recipients, you can select delivery options. In addition to immediate delivery (which causes every occurrence of the event to generate a separate notification message), there is the scheduled delivery option for aggregating notifications. If you select the scheduled delivery option, all notifications about the event occurrences within a time period of your choice are grouped and sent as a single message. In this case, the message body is composed of the aggregated notifications about every single occurrence of the event.
Notification messages are routed for delivery by an SMTP service, such as that provided by Microsoft Exchange or Internet Information Services. The address and other parameters of the outgoing e-mail server are specified as part of the notification settings on each approval rule.
Notification message template
Notification messages are based on a message template that determines the format and contents of an e-mail notification message, including the message subject and body. You can access the template from the page where you select an event together with notification recipients. When you change the template, your changes only take effect on the messages specific to the notification you are configuring.
Example: In the previous example, you could configure the approval activity so that the approver would receive an e-mail notification whenever a user creation operation is requested that requires their approval. Open the Properties page for that activity and go to the Notification step. Then, click Add, verify that the Task created event is highlighted, and select the appropriate check box under Notification recipients.
For step-by-step instructions, see Configuring a Notification activity earlier in this chapter.
E-mail based approval
In addition to the Web Interface pages for performing approval tasks, Active Roles provides the facility to approve or reject a pending request by replying to a notification message that informs of the request. An approval workflow can be configured to behave as follows:
- Upon the receipt of a change request that requires approval, Active Roles sends a notification message to the designated approvers, with the message body containing the option to approve or reject the request.
- The approver replies to the notification message, choosing the desired option—approve or reject. In the reply message the approver is expected to provide a comment explaining the reason for that choice.
- Active Roles receives the reply massage from the approver, checks to see if the approver elected to approve or reject the request, and then allows or denies the requested changes accordingly.
This way, the capabilities to work with approval requests are integrated into the e-mail client. The approvers do not need a web browser to view, and respond to, their approval requests. This, for instance, enables Microsoft Office Outlook users to manage approvals even when they are offline. One more opportunity is to manage approvals using an e-mail client on a mobile device.
IMPORTANT: To manage approval requests by replying to notification e-mails, you must be logged on to the approver’s mailbox as the owner of the mailbox or as an identity that has full access to the mailbox (including the Send As permission). The Send on Behalf permission will not suffice. Active Roles detects the situation where the reply is sent on behalf of the mailbox owner, and disregards the reply message in that case.