Teams Real Simple with Pictures: Enforce comments for Approval Requests

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Written: 29/04/2022 | Updated: N/A

Most recently – mainly the last six months or so since Covid – I feel that I like I have kinda pinballed around in the Teams ecosystem having no real sense of focus. Life is busy. Work is busy. I have been up to my eyeballs in Azure Plan, the New Commerce Experience (NCE), CloudBlue Connect, Catalogues, Packaging, JTA’s, writing new courses. Teams Nation. The latest project – or should I say the latest shipped in an ever spinning batch of projects – has been expanding operations and edu out into the MENA region. All fun. All for the greater good! Yet I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve taken a bit of a hit on the community end. I haven’t talked so much this year. I haven’t blogged or done social as consistently. I’ve sloped off a few things like the Microsoft Tech Community. I’m well aware of it – and as a marathon compared to a sprint it’ll no doubt self adjust and correct given time. But also I find I am in one of those periods when I am genuinely in a quandary about what to focus on given there is just so much exciting stuff out there at the moment. I am really interested in learning more on KQL and doing more in Azure. I am doing loads and want to do more with Power Automate. Same with Compliance. Same with Azure AD and Identity. With Teams? I’ve always been one for the little things. Sure, I may get around to the fanfare and hoopla that is Shared Channels, but whilst I could say that twenty MVP’s have already done this, it’s the little vital things that delight me. And so after discussing a range of, I guess, niche subjects the last few weeks, like hiding file sync, and disabling shortcut to OneDrive, and the ability to trigger flows with keywords, and audio conferencing, and app setup for messaging extensions, I am going to talk about enforcing comments in the approvals app. Yes, I wanted this. I wanted this bad. Because generally speaking I have never really liked blind approvals. I like context. I like to give context. This will be a short one because really it’s an awareness piece as much as being a technical blog.

Let’s go.

This blog will cover

  • How to enforce comments for approval requests
  • Testing this has worked
  • FAQ

Prerequisites

  • Teams Licence (Within Office or Microsoft 365 Licence)
  • Approvals App enabled and permitted within the App Permissions Policy
  • Teams – or Global Admin Permissions (For Teams Admin Centre)

HOW TO ENFORCE COMMENTS FOR APPROVAL REQUESTS

1.) Log into https://login.microsoftonline.com

2.) From the app launcher, select Admin

3.) In the Microsoft 365 Admin Centre select Show All on the left nav, then Teams

4.) In the Teams Admin Centre, select Teams Apps, then Manage Apps

5.) Search for, and select Approvals

6.) Select the tab, Settings

7.) Swipe on Comments Required and then select Submit

8.) Once saved, you will see a green bar at the top of the screen. Comments in Approvals are now enforced.

TESTING THIS HAS WORKED

Now it has been set in the Teams Admin Centre, it’s time to test it in the Teams Client. As per the warning in the Teams Admin Centre this will take a few hours to apply and you may need to sign out and back into Teams for it to take effect

1.) In the Teams clients, select … (More Options) from the left App Rail and then search for and select Approvals. If you are already using Approvals as an app you may have it pinned

2.) Select New Approval Request at the top right

3.) Select Basic Request

4.) Create and send approval to yourself. All you need to fill out is the Approval Request Name and Approver and then select Send

5.) The approval cannot be rejected or approved until the comments are provided. The comments field is marked with a red asterisk to state that a comment has to be entered

FAQ

Q. Is this just an all or nothing setting?
A. Yes it is only configurable in the Teams Admin Centre and when applied this applies to all approvals in the organisation. You can’t for example, set it like a policy where it applies to some users and not to others

Q. Can this be set by PowerShell?
A. No, it is a TAC only functionality and there isn’t a way to set it via PowerShell

Q. Will it cause friction in approvals
A. Possibly, if taken to mean that it requires more than a one click approval – however personally I believe it can help with transparency and context. The added action is not for the person who is seeking the approval, but the one giving the approval. It’s adding transparency to the decision making process, or ensuring that thought is given to a response, particularly if the approval isn’t self evident, or has caveats

Q. Will it have the ability in the future to be added like a policy?
A. Unknown. However, it is worth a look on Microsoft Feedback (https://feedbackportal.microsoft.com) as it could have well been raised

Q. Does this work with Power Automate?
A. The enforcement is done within the app itself, so yes it will work in Approval Actions in cloud flows in Power Automate

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