Manage review and approval routing


Updated: November 1, 2016

Applies To: Dynamics Marketing


Microsoft Dynamics Marketing is scheduled to be retired on May 15, 2018. After that date the service will no longer be available. Please plan accordingly. For details, see the customer FAQ. You can also read the blog post Microsoft Dynamics Marketing service will be discontinued, and learn what’s coming next.

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing provides a fully integrated review and approval system. Route documents, web pages, email messages, videos, and podcasts for approval, and review them with flexibility and ease.

When you want to route an item for review or approval, you create an approval request. The approval request is linked to the approvals for each approver, so that the requester can see all of the responses and comments on a single page. Dynamics Marketing creates an audit trail and provides clear accountability. There’s no need to make paper backups of sign-offs, because they are permanently stored in the system.


All contacts that you want to set up as approvers or reviewers must be registered users of Dynamics Marketing (as either licensed or web-portal users), and have a primary email address. Contacts that don’t meet these requirements won’t be available for selection as approvers or reviewers.

Users can send for approval any item that they are able to work with (including jobs, email messages, and documents), depending on their privileges. They are also able to monitor the progress of any item they have on approval.

To work with approvals as an approver or reviewer, or to get an overview of all approvals in the system, you must have Edit/View Approvals privileges. To create, view, or edit approval templates, you must also have Edit/View Approval Templates privileges. To add mark-up to preview requests (as either requester or reviewer), you must have Edit/View Markup privileges. More information: Work with user accounts and staff contacts

One or more items can be routed in a single operation for review or approval, as shown in the following table.

Item type

Can request approval or review

Can approve


  • Licensed users

  • Web-portal users

  • Licensed users

  • Web-portal users


  • Licensed users only

  • Licensed users

  • Web-portal users


  • Licensed users only

  • Licensed users

  • Web-portal users


  • Licensed users only

  • Licensed users

  • Web-portal users


  • Licensed users

  • Web-portal users

  • Licensed users

  • Web-portal users

Email messages

  • Licensed users

  • Web-portal users

  • Licensed users

  • Web-portal users

Marketing plans

  • Licensed users only

  • Licensed users only

Financial transactions

  • Licensed users only

  • Licensed users only

You can route items for an informal review, where you’re asking a person to take a look and give you some feedback, or you can route items for a formal sign off (Approval/Rejection):

  • Items routed for review are sent to others, who can comment on them until the requester decides that the process is complete.

  • Items routed for approval follow a more structured process. Each approver gets one chance to comment and to provide an overall status, such as Approved or Rejected, for the items. Once an approver is done, their comments are permanent and can no longer be changed.

To send an item for review or approval, do one of the following:

  • For all types of items except webpages: Go to the maintenance page for the file or item you want to send on approval or review, and open its Approvals related-information tab. From the Approvals tab toolbar, click New. This will automatically include the current item in the approval.

  • For webpages and files only: Go to Projects > Approvals > approvals, and then from the toolbar, click New. This will open a new approval workflow, but no items will be included by default. In this case, you must add your approval items manually by using the toolbar buttons of the Approval Request maintenance page. This is the only way to capture a live webpage for review.

In both of the above cases, you may be given the opportunity start by choosing an approval template (if any templates are available). If so, then choose a template from the drop-down list provided, or leave the selection blank to continue without a template, and then click Submit. Whether or not you chose a template, you will now be on the Approval Request maintenance page, which provides the settings outlined in the table below. If you chose a template, some of these fields may be pre-filled for you.




Select a priority level from the pull-down menu. You can use this to sort and classify approval requests by their relative importance.


When an approval request is created, its default status is In Process. Once all approvers have updated the status of their own approvals to indicate whether they approve or reject the request, Dynamics Marketing changes the status to Reviewed by All. When the requester is done with the approval request, whether or not all approvers have updated the status of their approvals, the approval request's status can be changed to Completed. Once it has been changed to Completed, all unread approvals are changed to Canceled. The approval request is no longer shown on the Approvals list page unless the Show All option is selected.


Enter a short but descriptive name. This value will identify the current record in list views, type-ahead fields, drop-down lists, and other areas of Dynamics Marketing. Choose a value that you and all other users are likely to recognize in the future.


If you are using a simple approval workflow, then this setting controls how your item will be circulated among the users listed in the Users section. Choose one of the following:

  • Concurrent: the approval request is sent to all reviewers at once.

  • Sequential (all): the approval request will be sent to each user in the order they are listed, waiting for each user to respond before continuing to the next one. Approval will continue through all users regardless of whether each user approves or rejects it.

  • Sequential (stop on rejection): same as Sequential (all), but if any user rejects the item, the workflow stops and the item is marked as rejected.

If you are using a graphical approval workflow, this setting has no effect (see also Design a graphical approval workflow).

Custom # of Pages

If the Thumbnails value does not give the correct impression of the total number of pages in the request, you can enter a custom value here to better specify the request.


Displays the number of thumbnail pages for all the documents included in the approval request.


This number may not always be accurate because Dynamics Marketing only generates thumbnails for 100 pages per document.


Use this Type-ahead field to associate a job with the current approval (if any).


Choose whether this is an Approval or a Review. Approvals are more formal and demand that each reviewer explicitly approve or reject the item. Reviews are more informal and simply solicit comments.


If relevant, enter a division of your selected company to associate with the current record (you must select a Company first). The division must already exist in the database. Type-ahead assistance is provided (or enter “%%” as a wildcard to scroll through all divisions). In some (but not all) cases, the current record is only available for use with other relevant entities that are also associated with this same division. See also: Set up divisions and departments to reflect your organization.


If relevant, enter a department of your selected company to associate with the current record. You must select a Company first. If the department is part of a division, then you must also select that Division first). The department must already exist in the database. Type-ahead assistance is provided (or enter “%%” as a wildcard to scroll through all departments). See also: Set up divisions and departments to reflect your organization.

Business Segments

Use this multi-select Type-ahead field to associate one or more business segments with the current record. More information: Set up business segments to reflect your organization


Specify the date (and time) the approvals are due.

Status Date

Shows the date for the last time the Status value changed.


Specify a date on which to send a reminder email to all users who have not yet responded to the approval/review request.

Request Date

Shows the date on which the request was created.

Completed Date

Displays the date the approval request was completed (if any). This value is generated automatically when all approvers have responded, but you can also edit this value if needed.

Request By

Initially shows the name of the contact that created the current record, but you can edit it at any time. This is a Type-ahead field and must refer to a record that already exists in the database.

Allow Editing

Allow users to upload edited (marked-up) versions of files.

Restrict Comments

Prevents approvers from seeing the comments made by other approvers.


Enter any instructions or comments for reviewers.


Use the table in this section to specify each of the users you wish to include the review/approval. For sequential workflows, users will be processed in the order shown here; for concurrent workflows, the order is not important.

  • Use the Name Type-ahead field to specify each reviewer. The values in the other columns will be filled out automatically to follow the progress of your review.

  • If you require more reviewers than there are rows in this table, click Add in the toolbar in this area to add more rows to the table.

  • To email or delete a user already in the table, mark the checkbox for the target user(s), and then click Email or Delete , respectively.


The settings in this section only have an effect when you are using the simple approval workflow. If you are using the graphical workflow, these settings do nothing. More information: Design a graphical approval workflow 


This section lists all of the comments that reviewers have added to the item, including notes made in Dynamics Marketing, Adobe PDF comments or Microsoft Office “Track Changes” comments. For files, comments for all file versions are included here too.

You can also add notes or reply to existing notes by using the toolbar buttons here.

Approval Items

Information and links for each item to be reviewed/approved during the current workflow are shown here.

  • For most types of items, this section will show the item you were working with when you created the approval/review workflow by using the Approvals related-information tab of the item’s maintenance page. This is the only way to add items other than files or webpages.

  • To remove an item from the request, click Delete, shown immediately above the target item.

  • To add a file from your site’s current file library, click Add at the top of the Approval Request maintenance page.

  • To upload a new file to the library and add it to the current request, click Upload at the top of the Approval Request maintenance page.

  • To add a webpage to the request, click Web Page at the top of the Approval Request maintenance page. You will be asked to specify a URL. Dynamics Marketing will take a screenshot of your web site and include that screenshot in the review, thus making it available for markup and comments.

Dynamics Marketing provides two methods for defining an approval workflow:

  • Simple approval workflow: The simple workflow allows for just one type of approval structure, which can be either concurrent or sequential. (This was the only type of workflow supported in earlier versions of Dynamics Marketing.) If you don’t need a complex workflow with logic, conditions, or a mixture of structures, this type of workflow may be easier for you to set up. To use the simple workflow, set up the approvers in the Users area of the Summary top-level tab, and then click Send at the bottom of the page to begin the workflow. In this case, your canvas workflow (if any) will be ignored.

  • Canvas approval workflow: The approval canvas provides a graphical, drag-and-drop interface for defining a complex approval workflow with logic, conditions, or a mixture of structures. Use the Workflow top-level tab of your approval setup to use the canvas. To use a complex workflow, arrange approvers and other elements using the canvas, and then click Activate above the canvas to begin the workflow. In this case, your simple workflow settings (if any) will be ignored. More information: Design a graphical approval workflow


If you deactivate a canvas-based workflow after you’ve activated it, the approval canvas is disabled and its tab will no longer be available for that approval setup. After doing this, you must either use the simple workflow, or create a new approval setup and re-create your canvas.

Both approvers and users requesting approval can benefit from the system of automatic email alerts provided with Dynamics Marketing, which let users know when their approval is needed or when the status of an approval they have requested has changed. For complete information about how to set up alerts, together with a list of which types of alerts are available, see Work with alerts.

Another way to keep an eye on your approvals is to add the Approvals widget to your Dynamics Marketing home-page or side-dock dashboard. For more information about widgets, see Learn how to work and get around in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing.

Whenever you receive an alert email or Approvals widget announcement concerning an approval request, you will also get a link to the request itself. You can also view all requests that you have permission to see by going to Projects > Approvals > Approvals. This brings you to the Routing/Approval/Reviews list page, which provides many of the standard controls for searching, sorting, filtering, adding, removing, and viewing items in the list, plus other common features. For details about how to use these common controls, see Learn how to work and get around in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing.

New approvals appear in bold font, to indicate that they’re new and haven't been read. (Overdue items are shown in red.)

To change the read/unread status of one or more requests, mark the checkbox for each target request, and click Mark as Read/Unread.

Dynamics Marketing enables users to mark up files and webpages to call reviewers’ attention to specific areas, and to provide feedback to users requesting approval or comments.

The markup functions in Dynamics Marketing don't change the files you mark up in any way. When you click Mark Up, Dynamics Marketing takes a “snapshot” of each page of the file (the markup image), and displays it on the Mark Up page. You can then add notes to the markup image. The notes you add to the markup image are linked to the version of the file so that you can quickly see any notes that have been made.


Dynamics Marketing can't generate thumbnails for Microsoft Excel workbooks, which also means that mark-up features aren't supported for Excel workbooks. Excel workbooks are shown using a generic icon rather than a thumbnail.

  1. Choose Files.

  2. Open the file.

  3. Select the version of the file that you want to mark up by choosing its thumbnail; this moves the version to the top of the version “stack.”

  4. Click Mark Up on the Thumbnails action tab.

    Dynamics Marketing displays the Mark Up page.


  1. Click Approvals/Review.

  2. Select the Approval/Review you want to view.

  3. Select the version of the file that you want to mark up.

  4. Click Mark Up on the Thumbnails action tab.

    Dynamics Marketing displays the Mark Up page.


There are several markup tools. Roll your mouse over each one to display a tool tip that explains what each button does.


Comments can be viewed directly on each page of the file by:

Choosing the button.

Selecting the Comments tab of the Mark Up page.

Viewing the Comments section on the File dashboard page.

You can cancel an approval request at any time by opening it and changing its status to Canceled. When you change the status to Canceled, Dynamics Marketing changes the status of all uncompleted approvals to Canceled.

Create approval request templates if you need to route items for approval to the same set of users.

  1. Go to Settings > Templates > Approval Templates.

  2. Click New. Dynamics Marketing opens the Approval Request Template page.

  3. Enter the information.