SharePoint Online: Document Approval Workflow with Record Declaration

This post covers how to create a Document Approval workflow that includes Record Declaration in SharePoint 2013 Online. This will add the feature of automatically locking documents that are approved.

For this, you’ll need a few things:

  1. O365 Enterprise E3 or E5
  2. SharePoint Designer 2010. Workflows with Record Declaration are not available in SharePoint Designer 2013 (yet). Get the 32-bit version free here.
  3. Basic knowledge of how to create SharePoint workflows, libraries, and views

To start, let’s create a new Document List. Got to Site Settings -> Add an App:

Add an app

Then Select Document Library:

Document Library

Give the Document Library a name and click Create:

Adding Document Library

Open the Document Library from Site Contents:

Documents from Site Contents

To add some columns to the library, click Library -> Library Settings:

Library Settings

Scroll down and add columns using the “Create column” and/or “Add from existing site columns” options. I’m going to add Number (single line of text), Doc Type (Choice, with the choices being Spec, Comm, and Qual), and Document Status (Choice, with choices Draft, Routing, and Approved):

Add Columns

Let’s also modify the “All Documents” view to remove “Modified” and “Modified By”. The view then looks like (with a couple file and metadata entered manually):

All Documents View

Normally the Word documents are always editable (depending on permissions), but let’s say we want to automatically make the current version the “record” version when status is set to “Approved.” We’ll do this using a workflow.

We first need to activate Record Declaration. That is done under Site Settings -> Site Collection Features (make sure you’re in Site Collection Administration, i.e. you may have to click “Go to top level site settings” if you don’t see the “Site Collection Features” option:

Site collection features

Scroll down to find “In Place Records Management” and click Activate:

In Place Records Management

Under Site Settings, you can click “Record declaration settings” to see what options are available for this functionality. We’ll use the default options of “Block Edit and Delete” for record documents.

Record declaration settings

Going back to your Document list, you may want to create an option to declare a document a record manually, which is not the default. To change that you need to go to Library -> Library Settings -> Record declaration settings and make the change. I’m going have all declarations done automatically via workflow so am not going to change this setting.

Record declaration settings options

Next step is to create the workflow, which as mentioned above must be done in SharePoint Designer 2010. So, assuming you have SharePoint Designer installed and connected to your site, go to Lists and Libraries, and then open you Documents list:

SharePoint Designer Lists and Libraries

Then select New and the Platform Type “SharePoint 2010 Workflow” to initiate a new workflow:

SharePoint Designer New Workflow

Give it a name and click OK. I’m using the name “Declare Record on Approval:” Click on the name and configure the Start Options. I’ve enabled all:

SharePoint Designer Workflow Start Options

Next select”Edit workflow”and create a workflow that looks like this:

SharePoint Designer Workflow Configuration

Select “Publish” to publish the workflow and go back to your site. Change the status of a record to “Approved” and refresh the page and you’ll see the workflow in progress:

Workflow in Progress

Wait a bit more and refresh again and you’ll see the workflow completed and document declared a record, which means it is not editable and cannot be deleted.

Workflow Completed

I also recommend removing the workflow status column from the view to give a cleaner user experience.

That’s it! Any questions and comments please leave ’em below.


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