Security of end user data has always been the number 1 focus of the Form Approvals team. From the way we architected the add-on from outset, with data partitioning, geographical segregation, end to end data encryption and all form response and approval records data never leaving your Google account. Security was again a big focus for us this month. The changes we recently announced to remove Google Drive and Google Contacts permissions have now taken effect across all regions. We are proud to be one of the first applications to take this position.
In addition, Team plan users now have access to a new feature called 'recipient authentication'. This feature allows administrators to enable a setting that will force recipients to sign-in and authenticate themselves with their Google account before approving a request. This is another security feature that we have been working hard to implement. It has been released in beta so would love your feedback once you have had a chance to use it.
Recipient portal is now generally available
For the past few months the new recipient portal has been in beta. We are pleased to announce that all Team plan users now have access to the recipient portal. Goodbye searching through emails! The recipient portal is similar to the admin portal but is designed specifically for recipients, allowing them to track the status of requests they are party to, filter on those pending their approval, and approve / decline directly from our website. Note, recipients must have a Google account to use this feature.
Automatic removal of duplicate recipients
We here ya! For the longest time you've been asking for a method of ensuring a recipient only receives a request for approval once despite being included in a workflow more than once due to complex workflow logic. We have now implemented a change that will detect when recipients (of the same role type) are included within your workflow and automatically exclude them.
Removal of Drive and Contacts permissions
We announced that we will be removing the add-ons access to your Google Drive and Google Contacts very soon. Whilst the add-on already uses these in very limited ways today, we understand the importance of data privacy to our users so we will be re-architecting the add-on to remove these two permissions. Refer to the announcement we made for further details.
Major maintenance update
Albeit not a new fancy feature, we made significant maintenance updates to the add-on this month. We migrated to the latest underlying technologies of Google, released earlier this year, to remove aspects well in advance of them going end of support. In addition, changes have been made to the design and flow of our payment page to ensure we are ready for upcoming European regulations on Strong Customer Authentication (SCA).
Addition of a new role type
Previously, you could choose between the roles of "Needs to Approve", "Needs to Recommend", "Needs to Acknowledge", "Needs to Edit" and "Receives a Copy". Based on your feedback, we have added a new role type of "Needs to Action". This role is designed for a recipient that needs to complete or action a task. For example, your workflow may consist of one or many approvers. Once it has been approved, certain tasks may need to be completed. This role now allows you to capture them within your workflow. Further details about this and other role types can be found on our support page.
Approval history added to notifications
Previously, when a recipient made a comment with their approval the add-on would include comments they made on subsequent notifications. We have now extended this, to not only include the information when a comment is made by a recipient, but to also include the history of the request (including recipients that did not leave a comment). Using the Email Editor, paid users can reposition or remove this information by using the <<Recipient Comments>> marker. This is a small change, but it hopefully makes it easier for the requestor and recipients to see the history without having to constantly track requests. Learn more about personalizing notifications with the Email Editor.
Self service updates to Team users
Team plan customers can now add or remove Team plan members directly from our website. To do so, open the add-on, click Settings, then click Account, then click the yellow Manage my subscription button. The subscription page now includes details of your existing plan and gives you the ability to edit your Team plan users.
Improved filtering on the admin portal
Previously, you were only able to filter on the Overall Status which made it next to impossible to find older requests. We heard you! Now, you can filter on the Overall Status, Request #, Requestor, and even enter a date range to narrow your search.
New Email Editor design
We have changed the design of the Email Editor to make it easier to navigate and we have moved all settings related to email notifications to the Email Editor (including the setting that allows you to hide form sections from email notifications).
Change the From Name
Until now, the from name defaulted to "Form Approvals" for all users. Individual and Team plan users can now amend the from name from within the new Email Editor.
Admin portal authorized user
Until now, only one person could access the admin portal per form. Team plan users can now specify one additional person to access the admin portal per form. The admin portal is designed for the form administrator to track the status of recent requests, send reminders and amend recipients. Note, we are working on a recipient portal also that will allow recipients to track the status of requests they are party to, filter on those pending their approval, and approve / decline directly from our website - we hope to make it available in the coming months...stay tuned.
Addition of a Team plan
Previously, we had two paid plans: Pro and Enterprise. However, many users sought a plan that allowed multiple users to share a plan, but did not allow everyone in their domain. As such, the Team plan has been added.
Change in plan name from Pro to Individual
The 'Pro' plan has been renamed to the 'Individual' plan to better describe the plan and how it compares to the Team plan.
Comments on email notifications now include the response status
From early on, the add-on has included comments of previous recipients on email notifications, however it has not included the status of the recipient's response (i.e whether it was approved, recommended, not recommended etc). This was particularly annoying when a recipient recommended a request to not be approved. Therefore, we have now updated the add-on as follows:
Dynamic group recipients
In addition to static group recipients, you can now add dynamic group recipients. Learn more about this feature by reviewing Option 3 on the adding recipients support article.
Sticky dynamic recipients
Prevously, when changes were made to your Google Form (specifically questions linked to dynamic recipients), users were required to re-configure their dynamic recipients within the add-on. We found a new method of doing things, and this is no longer required! Changes made to your form questions will now be automatically reflected within the add-on without you having to do anything.
Role based workflows
In addition to approvers, you will be able to add other role tyes. For example, you may want to set an Editor as level 1 (who can add information to the form submission), Endorser as level 2 (who can recommend whether it should be approved or not), Approver as level 3 (who has the authority to approve or decline), and someone at level 4 who simply needs to be notified of the outcome. Due to this change, you will notice our documentation now refers to 'approvers' as 'recipients'. Learn more about recipient role types.
Greater control over your data
Approval records and most application settings will now be stored in your linked spreadsheet, giving you greater control over your data. Note: the add-on will rely on this information to operate so do not sort, edit, or modify this data in any way. To track recent requests, use the admin portal. To perform more detailed analysis, simply duplicate the sheet.
The add-on has removed the requirement for access to a users Calendar and Documents. These were originally required for functionality that has since been deprecated. In addition, the add-on will no longer require edit access to your Google Form and linked spreadsheet. Unlike other add-ons, approvers will also not be required to be an editor of your Google Form or linked spreadsheet. To achieve this, it required significant changes to the way the add-on operates and we are proud to be the first in market to offer this capability. Learn more about permissions on our security page.
Improved application performance
Overhauled backend infrastructure supporting the application and the ability to select the region closest to you has significantly improved the application's performance. The average wait time on 1-click response links has reduced by approx 80%, giving your approvers more time to spend on work that matters.
Change the title, subject and body of all notification types. Plus, the ability to include a private message on individual recipient notifications. Learn more about personalizing notifications.
As the add-on administrator, you will be able to view a list of recent requests, search or filter on those pending, approved or declined and perform various actions like send reminders, resend notifications and amend recipients.
Support for Team Drive
The add-on now supports forms and spreadsheets that are stored in Team Drive.
Support of 'grid' question types
The add-on now supports 'grid' question types and will include the responses to these questions types appropriately in the form response table of email notifications.
A fresh new look
Green is out, blue and yellow tones are in. Color aside, the new version of the add-on has been designed mobile-first. As such, all functionality will be available across all screen sizes.