Taking the Pain Out of Approvals
By Mike Raia Posted May 7, 2019
Most organizations experience quite a bit of pain when it comes to submitting, managing, and reporting on approvals. Regardless of the department or type of approval, there seems to be no way to consistently and reliably ensure:
- People know how to get approvals
- Information flows properly
- The correct actions are taken by the correct people
- It's easy to go back and audit the process
This pain is felt by everyone in the process from the submitter to the approver to management. Workflow automation can ease this pain to the point of actually making an approval process a positive experience rather than a painful one.
Pain: How do I submit this?
Instead of trying to dig up the latest version of a form made in Word or Excel (or paper), employees can simply visit a central, self-service portal that stores all the different approval forms. Approvals can be launched from a tree/folder structure, using a search, or right off their dashboard.
Pain: What's going to happen?
All approval processes can show the exact path an approval request will take once submitted including all the approvers that will be involved. Once the request is submitted, the submitter can then track where the approval stands at any time.
Managing Approval Tasks
Pain: Who needs to take action?
Training is great and static process documents can be helpful but when it comes to everyone knowing what actions they need to take as part of a process, nothing beats automatically assigning tasks to the appropriate people and providing context.
Workflow automation does just that. In fact, not only are approval tasks automatically assigned, but if the assigned person is unavailable, the task can be delegated to a pre-set backup approver.
Pain: Is information missing?
A common issue with approvals is that submitters fail to provide all the necessary information approvers need. Workflow automation combats this in a few different ways:
- Required fields: Forms cannot be submitted if missing critical information.
- Picklists: Eliminate free-form, unusable data.
- Required attachments: Make sure relevant documents are included.
- Form logic: Ensure forms dynamically require information based on user selections.
- Reject buttons for approvers: Make it easy for approvers to send requests back for more information.
- Collaboration/communication tools: Allow requesters, approvers, and other stakeholders to communicate within the process.
Auditing the Approval Process
Pain: What happened with this approval?
Rather than digging through emails to figure out who approved (or didn't approve) something from several months ago, workflow automation provides a thorough audit trail of what everyone did and when. Also included are completed forms, conversations, and attachments. This puts the entire history of an approval at management's fingertips.
Pain: How efficient is our approval process?
Most people believe that approval processes take too long and are full of bottlenecks. However, without data evidence, it's hard to say if that's actually true and then figure out how to improve the process.
With workflow automation, KPIs and reports can help management determine if there are lags and/or errors occurring within a given approval process. The time between tasks being completed can easily be charted using dashboards or reports, making it easy to see which areas of the process are out of range.
You are Healed!
Switching to a workflow automation system can be a permanent cure for the pain of approval management. If this sounds like an elixir for your approval ills, please reach out for a demonstration and we'll show you Integrify workflow automation in action.