How to Use Google Forms to Create an Interactive Workflow

Wil Conway 10-05-2016

Google Forms is the office workflow interface you didn’t know you needed.


Google Forms isn’t just another simple survey tool How to Create a Free Survey and Collect Data with Excel Are you tired of having to manually collect and consolidate data, from various people, into your Excel spreadsheet? If so, chances are you have yet to discover Excel Survey. Read More . In its most simple form, it’s a free data collection tool 9 Awesome Reasons to Use Google Forms Need to create a quick survey but can't afford to pay anything? Here are several reasons why you should use Google Forms! Read More . With a little know-how, you can unleash the combined power within Google Forms, Google Sheets, and Add-ons to create some powerful workflows to help you get more done in the office.

Things You Can Do With Google Forms

Out of the box, Google Forms allows you to collect data and store each response as a row in a spreadsheet. Here we will show you how you can use the same form to work with that collected data to add information to an existing row, or trigger a process.

This is useful in any situation where you need to take action on the data you collect, as opposed to just reporting on it. An example of this is when you use a form to collect a request for a service that requires a response, approval, or some other action. Instead of manually manipulating each new request in the spreadsheet, you can reopen the request in your form to perform the next step in your process.

Design Your Workflow

To demonstrate the concept, consider a scenario where you need to create a structured process for receiving, documenting, responding, and reporting on help requests submitted to your team.

Yes, you could use a sophisticated incident management tool for these types of requests. However, this may not be feasible in a small company, or it may just be a way to deal with the ad-hoc type of situations that don’t really require that level of sophistication (or red tape).


To manage this task in a simple way, you can create a solution using Google Forms that achieves the following:

  1. Creates a new request and captures the data into a Google Sheet.
  2. Sends an email to the requester, acknowledging that the request was received.
  3. Sends an email to the support team, notifying them of a new request that requires action.
  4. Allows the support team to edit the record with the resolution information.
  5. Sends an email to the requester with the resolution information.
  6. Records all information in the Google Sheet to allow for reporting.

Build Your Form

Make sure that your Form captures all the data that you will require to support your process. Since you will be emailing notifications, it is important that you capture that contact information for each user in addition to the help request data.


Add Branching Logic

Page branching is the key component in this Form workflow process. It allows you to skip to a specific section of the Form, based on an answer that you provide. Since this Form will be the interface for both new requests and updates, this question will be asked in the beginning, so that you can direct the user to the appropriate section. A requester will only be submitting New Requests and support staff will use the Update Request (Admin Only) option.



To add page branching do the following:

  1. Click the menu icon at the bottom right of the section
  2. Select Go to section based on answer
  3. Click the drop-down menu next to the question and select the proper page destination


Add Input Validation

Obviously, you will want to prevent non-admins from accessing the Admin Only section of the form. This is where input validation comes in handy. Selecting the Update Requests (Admin Only) option will direct you to a challenge question – in this example it’s called passcode. The input validation on this question is set to only accept an answer that contains a specific string.



Keep in mind this isn’t a super secure method but it gets the job done for simple use cases. Just make sure you aren’t collecting sensitive data. Also, make sure not to use your actual password as the passcode; you don’t want to get hacked! 7 Password Mistakes That Will Likely Get You Hacked The worst passwords of 2015 have been released, and they're quite worrying. But they show that it's absolutely critical to strengthen your weak passwords, with just a few simple tweaks. Read More

Power Up Your Google Sheet with Add-ons

Now that you built your Form, set up the notification workflow using a Google Sheet add-on called formMule. formMule allows you to send customized and structured emails, based on triggers such as on form submit. Be sure to check out other add-ons Supercharge Your Google Forms and Get More out of Them The humble Google Forms has loads of uses. With the availability of add-ons, you can find more ways to tap into its usefulness than ever before. Read More that might better suit your specific process needs.

To add formMule to your Google Sheet click Add-ons > Get Add-ons and find it in the list.


Create Your Email Templates

To set up formMule, click Add-ons > formMule – Email Merge Utility > Setup and follow the prompts. For this application, it is important that you enable the send on form submit trigger as well as select the option to log the edit URL for each form submission.


You will be using 3 email templates for this example. The templates should be named logically, to make it easier to edit them in the next step.


Use the drop-down box to switch between the different templates and create the custom email that you want to send, for each of the workflow steps, that were outlined at the start:

  • Acknowledge
  • Notify
  • Answer


The magic here comes in the Merge Tags, that formMule provides. All of the data fields that the form captured are available in tags, that allow you to create the custom templates. In addition to the form data, formMule also adds a tag called Form Edit URL. This URL is a link that re-opens that specific response within your original form. This is the key to tying it all together. When you create the Notify email template, make sure to include this tag, so that the support administrators can update the request using the same form that you created!

Don’t forget to give them the passcode that you created earlier, so they can utilize the update request section of the Form.


Google Script and Event Triggers

When you are thinking about other ways to use Google Forms to solve your process needs, keep in mind that you can also create your own actions that are triggered on form submit by using Google Script 3 Sure Ways to Boost Your Productivity with Google Scripts It's possible to do all kinds of really cool automations with Google Scripts, and you don't even have to create them from scratch. Boost your productivity in a big way. Read More .

Test Your Work

You’ve done a lot of work in Forms, Sheets, and Add-ons. Before you go live with your awesome new process, make sure you do a full walk through of your workflow. Validate that each step is working as designed.

Share Your Form

You are all set to impress your boss and coworkers! To share your process, open your Form, and click the Send button. You have a couple options for sharing the Form, pick the one that works best for your situation, and send it to your target audience.

View Your Responses

After your Form link has been sent, you can start monitoring your spreadsheet for responses and analyzing the results How to Create a Pivot Table for Data Analysis in Microsoft Excel The pivot table is one of the single most powerful tools in Microsoft Excel. Learn how to use the pivot table for data analysis. Read More . The data will be stored in the spreadsheet that the survey is linked to.


Do More With Google Forms

As we have demonstrated above, Google Forms can do more than help you collect data. It provides a great interface for simple processes and workflows as well. And don’t forget, adding Google Apps Script to the “on form submit” event gives you almost limitless possibilities for automation.

For more advice, check out these advanced Google Forms tips 10 Advanced Google Forms Tips and Tricks If Google Forms isn't your go-to form maker yet, these advanced Google Forms tips and tricks may change your mind. Read More .

Related topics: Google Apps, Spreadsheet, Surveys.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Tina
    December 19, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    I want an approver to be able to edit the form when it comes to his/her email. Is that possible?

  2. Tina
    December 19, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Is there a way that the person who is approving the form can edit it before approving?

  3. Ryan
    November 17, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    I have been using this exact method over the past year. Just recently I've noticed that this method no longer works. Now, when someone revisits the form using the "Form Edit URL" link, everything looks fine. However, when questions are answered on the "administrator" part of the form, it automatically erases all data that the first person entered on their section of the form. The responses Google Sheet now shoes that the "responder editied this value" and those cells are now blank. Wondering if Google made some changes with the ability to edit a previously submitted form?

    • Rene Marty
      November 20, 2017 at 7:55 pm

      I Have same problem!!! DonĀ“t know what to do

      • Ryan
        November 21, 2017 at 1:08 pm

        The thing is there is no "Contact Us" button for Google Forms.

        • Robert
          November 29, 2017 at 6:20 am

          Hi Ryan and Renee, check out Form Approvals in the Google Forms add-on marketplace. Its not identical to the method described above, but it will allow you to create a workflow approval process which sends information captured in a form to people for approval.

  4. Corey
    November 14, 2017 at 3:42 am

    Well, I thought I followed the instructions pretty close. But when I go back and "update" the form after submission with formmule live link, the new data I enter gets put in a new entry on the spreadsheet and does not updated the previous data.

  5. Brian
    November 11, 2017 at 11:21 am

    Thank you very much for your clear explanation.

    I (think I) followed the instructions for a teacher time off request form, but when I approve/not approve a request, the date the teacher asked to be absent is removed in the form responses sheet.

    Any idea why, e.g., what I did incorrectly?

    Thank you very much!


    • Robert
      November 29, 2017 at 6:11 am

      Hi Brian, check out Form Approvals in the Google Forms add-on marketplace.

  6. Alexander Danon
    November 9, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    I built a payment registration and approval workflow using this tutorial. It has worked perfectly until a few days ago when previous responses started to be erased. Google, it seems, has modified the behavior of forms. Have you seen this? Do you have any suggestions?

    • Robert
      November 29, 2017 at 6:13 am

      Hi Alex, check out Form Approvals in the Google Forms marketplace.

  7. Chris
    August 30, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    How do I get more information about the Answer Section, so that Admin can update information in an existing form?

  8. David Malone
    April 19, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    I'm a bit confused on how the Answer/Admin-only section is implemented. I have the challenge working, but once authenticated where does the workflow go to?

    Also, it would appear using the Form Edit URL in the notification email provides access to changing the original form data and changing the spreadsheet content.


  9. Kalia
    April 5, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Is the notification supposed to be sent on it's own or do I have to preview and send each time?

  10. Chris Rauscher
    February 23, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    Would it be possible to get a copy of your form and spreadsheet? I would like to see some of your settings.

  11. Susan
    November 21, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    I used this to create a purchasing system - works great!

  12. Allison
    November 17, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    How do you delete/edit existing templates?

  13. Bhargavi
    August 23, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    This is a great walk through. Helped me design a simple workflow. Hope it works on implementation as well..!!

    • Justin
      October 26, 2016 at 8:08 am

      Hi Bhargavi,
      How did the implementation go? Did it work?