Is it possible to create a bi-directional approval workflow for Sharepoint Server 2010 without Visual Studio or Visio?

And if it can be done in Visual Studio, what information can you give me to justify to my supervisor that it is required?

The use case is where a change request comes in, gets approved and forwarded to the next person, but that person wants to send it back with questions/comments, and therefore put it back a step in the workflow process.

Additional Requisites
Required List/Library Type for Workflow: Document Library

I missed some info here, the additional use case (just got this from the requestor for thsi feature) would be to have something like this be valid:

Person A -(submits a document to a doc library)->
Person B -(approves)->
Person C -(wants more info)->
Person B -(submits more info for Person C)->
Person C -(approves)->
Person D -(wants more info)->
Person C -(submits more info)->
Person D -(approves)-> [END]

Granted, at any step if its "Rejected" the workflow just ends.

Additional Resources/Software Available

SharePoint Designer 2010
Visio (if required, and if so, we need to know the version to make this work)
Visual Studio 2012 Professional (if absolutely needed)


2 Answers 2


I think you should be able to handle this with a custom content type on your task list where the user has an option to Approve As-Is or Return With Feedback. When the task is completed, the workflow evaluates the option and either proceeds or creates a new task for the previous user.

  • You'll need to forgive me for omitting information, i didnt get this until about 15 seconds after i saw your post. Indeed, yours would work for a two-step authentication. The use case in this instance requires a multi-step approval method as I outlined above (I don't have any graphics for this, sorry). Also appears I forgot to mention its a document library we're working with, so it may limit things a tiny bit May 24, 2012 at 13:53
  • It should still be possible for multiple layers, so long as you know who all those users are (presumably via document metadata). As long as you're tracking the state of the workflow, you should be able to make it do that process without too much difficulty. May 24, 2012 at 14:09
  • Bleh, don't you dislike it when you get information after you've posted a question? Anyways, it seems that the business owner is trying to make this a hybrid between automatic approval workflows and manually moving this between assignees and steps :/ The business owner wants an admin to be able to make it skip steps in the process too, if needed. May 24, 2012 at 14:14
  • indeed, I found the solution is a state machine workflow, at least in a pinch. If the business owner is ready to make a minor change to how they operate, then this should work, otherwise... May 24, 2012 at 16:38

You can use a state-machine workflow to handle this without customized code. There's a basic tutorial on how to do this here.

  • Do not upvote this answer, its my own self adding another method :P May 25, 2012 at 17:09

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