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This month’s blog is about the one of the most useful enhancements of BMC Remedy AR System version 8.1.00, Email-based approvals. Many of our customers have already started taking benefit of this new feature. So, this blog will help you understand the functional behavior, configuration, and basic troubleshooting of this feature.

 

Overview

This enhancement enables you to approve or reject the approvals via email itself. You can directly respond to the pending approval without logging into the application from the Notification email that you receive. This email contains key information about the change request pulled from the notification message with hyperlinks to Approve, Reject, and Launch Approval Central.

 

Concept

The BMC Remedy IT Service Management email-based approval is not same as the BMC Remedy AR System email-based approval feature, even though it uses the same logic. The Notification Engine helps in rendering BMC Remedy IT Service Management notifications. So, the logic behind this feature is to send notifications with the email-based approvals feature enabled, so that you can approve or reject the approval using the notification email.

 

Approval notifications are triggered by the BMC Remedy Approval Server and not by individual applications. Whenever you add an approver into the BMC Change Management application, it creates a signature and then the BMC Remedy Approval Server triggers the notification. So, individual applications do not trigger the notifications, they just manage the notification messages that they want to send to the end user for approval.

 

The BMC Remedy Approval Server and the Notification Engine go hand-in-hand to result in this functionality. The AR System Email Templates form stores the structure of the approval email message and the <body> of the email is stored within the notification message template in the SYS:Notification Messages form.

 

How it works

 

  • When the email-based approvals are enabled, users with an approval authority receive an email notification for the request:

Approval Notification Email.jpg

 

  • Clicking on either the Approve or Reject links open an email for the configured mailbox user with the respective subject. Just sending this email (without modifying the text) registers the approver’s response in the system.

 

Approve response.jpg

 

  • The approver receives a confirmation email depicting the success of the approval or rejection by email.

 

Acknowledgement Email.jpg

 

  • If you configure the Require Password and Require Justification on Rejection parameters (related to the approval process) as Yes, the email appears without the Approve or Reject links as shown below. In this case, you must approve the request by logging into Approval Central.

Launch Approval Central.jpg

 

For more information, see the BMC Online Technical Documentation portal: Approving or rejecting requests via email.


Configuration

  • Before you configure the email-based approvals, make sure that the required mailboxes are configured so that the user can receive the notification email. For more information about configuring mailboxes, see Configuring Remedy Email Engine.
  • To configure the email-based approvals, see Configuring email-based approvals. One important Incoming Mailbox configuration is to set Email Action to Parse and Enable Modify Action to Yes as shown below.

 

 

 

  • Make sure that the escalations are enabled, as the escalations trigger approval notifications. This configuration can be done through AR System Administration Console > Server Information > Configuration tab > Disable Escalations. This parameter must be deselected for the OOB escalations to fire.
  • Set the Default Web Path and Email Notification Web Path (for example, http://midtier:port<if-any>/contextPath). The Email Notification Web Path specifies the base URL that appears in email notifications and can be different than the Default Web Path.
  • Configure the respective approval process by setting the values of Require Password? to No and Require Justification on Rejection to No. For this, navigate to Quick Links > Approval Administration Console and select the process, for example, Show For Process = Change Level CI-IA – Review and view it from the Process tab. You will find these settings under the Basic and Configuration tabs.
  • Make sure that the email-based approvals for your company (or Global) is Enabled. This is the only configuration that is performed through BMC Remedy IT Service Management. For out-of-the-box, this is enabled for the Global company record; however, when you upgrade to BMC Remedy IT Service Management version 8.1.00, the email-based approvals are disabled. You must manually enable them after the upgrade. For more information about the step-by-step instructions about how to enable or disable the email-based approvals, see Enabling email-based approvals.

 

 

The following workflow is executed while generating the notification message for the approval assignment event.

 

Flow.jpg

 

  • On the <CHG:ChangeAPDetailSignature> three-way join form, the AP:Notify-xxxxx filters perform the set field action using the notification tag from the AP:Notification form.

 

/* Wed Dec 11 2013 19:20:33.9780 */ <Filter Level:0 Number Of Filters:11> Checking "AP:Notify-000000000000041" (900)

   --> Passed -- perform actions

        0: Set Fields

              Additional Fields (12340) =

              Subject (12305) =

              Notification Message (12303) = CHG-APR-ApprovalNTForIndividual

        1: Call Guide "AP:Workflow Notifications Guide"

 

  • This pushes the data into NTE:SYS-NT Process Control, where the data is pulled from SYS:Notification Messages.

 

/* Wed Dec 11 2013 19:20:33.9850 */ <Filter Level:0 Number Of Filters:16> Checking "CHG:CSG:NewApprovalNotification-ParseApprovers-NotifySupport`!" (915)

   --> Passed -- perform actions

        0: Push Fields -> "NTE:SYS-NT Process Control"

              Change Manager Group Name (1000003704) = Change Management

              Change Risk Level (1000003703) = Risk Level 1

              Target Resolution Date-PBI (1000003697) =

              Generic Priority (1000003677) = Low

              Generic Status (1000003670) = Request For Authorization

              Notification Message Tag (1000003667) = CHG-APR-ApprovalNTForIndividual

              Customer Last Name (1000003298) = Admin

              Customer First Name (1000003297) = App Admin

               ……….

               ……….

               ……….

 

/* Wed Dec 11 2013 19:20:34.0080 */ Start filter processing (phase 1) -- Operation - CREATE on NTE:SYS-NT Process Control - <NULL>

  • Followed by this, workflow then generates the message as per the email template defined for the approval assignment notifications. It then sends the notification to the user from the AR email messages form record.

 

> /* Wed Dec 11 2013 19:20:53.6580 */ <Filter Level:0 Number Of Filters:63> Checking "NTE:NPC:GetNotificationMessage_554" (554)

>    --> Passed -- perform actions

>         0: Set Fields

>               Pager Message Alpha (1000000927) = Change Request #Ticket ID# requires your approval

>               Email Message Body (1000000827) = <td><table width="100%" cellpadding="0"  cellspacing="10"> …… ……. ……..

>               Email Subject Line (1000000826) = Change Request #Ticket ID# requires your approval

>               Notification Text (1000000820) = You have been selected as an approver for the change request  #Ticket ID# for the approval phase '#Approval Phase Name#'

>               Form Name01 (1000000101) = CHG:ChangeAPDetailSignature

>               EmailTemplateName (304350251) = Approval_By_Email_Content_en

 

  • This data gets pushed into the NTE:Notifier form during which the “Reply To” mail id is processed from AR System Mailbox Configuration and the AR Server is notified using the Notify action that creates the record into the AR System Email Messages form.

 

> /* Wed Dec 11 2013 19:20:53.8120 */ <Filter Level:0 Number Of Filters:220> Checking "NTE:NPC:CreateNTS_NoBusTime_590_PNTS`!" (590)

>    --> Passed -- perform actions

>         0: Push Fields -> "NTE:Notifier"

>               Pager Message Numeric (1000001005) = 443

>               Pager Message Alpha (1000000927) = Change Request CRQ000000000443 requires your approval

>               Pager Notification (1000000856) = 1

>               Email Message Body (1000000827) = <td><table width="100%" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="10">                                                                         <tr>  

>               Email Subject Line (1000000826) = Change Request CRQ000000000443 requires your approval

>               Notification Text (1000000820) = You have been selected as an approver for the change request  CRQ000000000443  for the approval phase 'Review'

>               z1D NTI ID (1000000793) = NPC000000000645

>               Remedy Notification Method (1000000755) = 2

>               Notification Event (1000000751) = 44000

>               Remedy Login ID (1000000581) = <RemedyLoginID>

>               Request ID02 Ticket (1000000205) = CRQ000000000443

>               Request ID01 System (1000000204) = CRQ000000000309|000000000000336|000000000000234

>               Form Name01 (1000000101) = CHG:ChangeAPDetailSignature

>               Internet E-mail (1000000048) = <InternetEmailID>

>               EmailTemplateName (304350251) = Approval_By_Email_Content_en

>               Detail-Sig-Id (300889900) = 000000000000336|000000000000234

>               Source_Instance_ID (300032100) =

>               Lookup Keyword (230000009) =

>               Locale (160) = en_US

>               Status (7) = 1

 

Limitations

  • The email-based approvals do not work if you configure the values for the Require Password? or Require Justification on Rejection parameters to Yes for the approval process. This is because, when you approve using an email, it is not trustworthy to provide password for security reasons. You will get the notification email, but without the Approve and Reject links in the email. In this case, you need to approve or reject the request from Approval Central.
  • For the BMC Service Request Management approval email notifications, the Request ID hyperlink is not available to view the details of request as the request details open in a dialog box. This hyperlink is available for the applications like BMC Change Management, BMC Release Management, BMC Asset Management, and BMC Remedy Knowledge Management.

 

Troubleshooting

The following are the commonly reported issues:

  1. Receiving the approval notification email with the Approve and Reject links missing
  • Make sure that the email-based approval is configured and is enabled. For more information, see the Configuration section of this blog.
  • Set the values for the Require Password? or Require Justification on Rejection parameters to No.

   2. Not receiving any approval notification emails

  • Navigate to the Approval Administration Console and under the Notification tab, make sure that the approval notification for the New Approval record is Active. If the record is already in the Active status mode, then change its status from Active to Inactive to Active again. This generates filters in the backend that are responsible for triggering notifications.

   3. Responding via email did not Approve or Reject the approval signature

  • The email mailbox is configured with different users (AR System Email Mailbox Configuration form). So, make sure that the ‘To’ email id (Outgoing) is the same for which you have configured the incoming mailbox (Email Server User). The mailbox associated with the outgoing mailbox is preferred for sending notifications. If an email is sent to a different email id, BMC Remedy Email Engine disregards such an email from the exchange server.

    4. The Approval Central link or CRQ ID # hyperlink does not open the respective form:

  • Check the default web path configuration in the Server Information form.

 

Known issues

Some issues related to the email-based approval feature will be addressed in future service packs or releases. For more information, see these knowledge articles:

KA394892: Email Based Approval functionality is not working if "Delete Outgoing Notification Messages" is set to YES in email engine configuration settings

KA394917: Email Based Approval functionality is not working when there are different Email IDs configured for incoming and outgoing

KA374349: Email Engine returns 4927 error when using incoming email template to submit ticket

 

Additionally, the approval email is not populating the values for the Approve or Reject options in Internet Explorer and Firefox. The email composer opens with either a blank window or with incomplete content. A defect (SW00460410) was created for this and has been fixed in BMC Remedy AR System version 8.1.00 Service Pack 1.

 

Note: The Lotus client ignores the text following second hash (#) character, because of which the Lotus Notes email-based client approvals do not work. When a user responds to the pending approval using a fixed formatted email (do not modify), the Lotus client erases the reply email content after the second # character, the approval does not register in the system. For Lotus Notes, this functionality has not been tested.

 

Enhancements

The following is the recent IDEA requesting this feature to be made available for Android based applications so that it can be used on Smartphones. You may add your comment and vote for this idea if you would like to see this enhancement in the future releases of the product:

https://communities.bmc.com/ideas/3965

 

Following are some important links on this topic:

 

We hope that you find this blog post useful to understand Email-Based approvals. We welcome your comments and feedback that you may have regarding this article.

 

You can find similar posts at BMC Remedy Pulse Blogs.