Content Approval implementation options in SharePoint

There are different options to implement item approval functionality for SharePoint list items. Below are listed some option starting from the simplest, out-of-the-box features to workflows developed in Visual Studio.

1. Set ‘Require content approval’ in list’s Versioning settings.

This is the simplest way to have content approval functionality in SharePoint and it doesn’t require workflow.
To enable Content Approval go to list’s Settings -> Versioning settings and set ‘Require content approval for submitted items?’ to Yes.
Enable versioning as per your requirements.
Workflow Settings

2. Approval Workflow.

This is achieved by using out-of-the-box workflow ‘Approval – SharePoint 2010’ workflow and involves task generation and options to Approve/Reject/Request changes/Reassign tasks)
To use this workflow follow the steps below:
1. Make sure the site collection feature ‘Workflows’ is activated
2. Go to List Settings -> Workflow Settings and click ‘Add’ to add new workflow. Choose Approval – SharePoint 2010, specify Name, choose Task List, History List and specify the Start Options.
Require Content Approval screen
Click Next and specify the other settings (Approvers, task duration, enable content approval etc.)
After adding the workflow it will be available for the list items and it will start automatically or can be started manually depending on the workflow settings.

3. Create custom workflow using SharePoint Designer

With SharePoint Designer can be created custom workflows with a relatively easy way and without coding. SharePoint Designer has improved noticeably with every major version and there is a lot of flexibility and has a quite long list of actions to use when creating workflows for different business processes including content approval processes.

4. Creating workflows using Visual Studio

This is the most advanced way of creating custom workflows. It has full flexibility to implement any functionality and has the advantage of building workflows for easy deployment in different environments.

Conclusion

There is no strict rule when to use which option. Its best to evaluate every option starting from the easiest one (option 1) until the most appropriate option is chosen considering the requirements and the available resources (time and people)

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