What Does Approval Workflow Stand for?

The approval workflow is a business practice used for approving company requests. As part of the practice, employees submit forms with their proposed activities or tasks and wait to get approval from their team leads, managers, supervisors, or employers before they can execute them.

The approval workflow process involves different types of company requests, such as requests made by managers to hire new employees, requests for capital expenditures, requests to review employee contracts for potential raises, HR approvals, budget approvals, etc., as well as menial tasks for approval like office supplies purchases.

How Does Approval Workflow Work?

The approval workflow is a chain of replicable tasks or processes that help a company achieve its goals. The process goes like this: employees who have a task or request that needs to be approved submit a paper approval form to their superiors, wait for a response, and act accordingly.

Some approvals can be granted directly by the department manager, while others might require cross-department management approval and thus take longer. For instance, a project supply request can involve the department manager who coordinates the project and the financial manager or administrator who knows the project’s budget.

Manual Approval Workflow

Approvals are very important as they keep businesses compliant and consistent and create a stable communication channel between all employees. Until recently, the process of filling and approving the requests was done manually, resulting in piles of paperwork, clerk expenditures for processing, emails, and phone calls.

However, businesses have been switching to software approval workflow as manual approval forms have a number of disadvantages:

  • Time wasting. 
    With manual approvals, employees submit their documents and forms in person to their superiors, and most often than not, the documents change a few pairs of hands before they reach the head person who has the final word. This slows down the approval process significantly, keeping employees waiting instead of taking action.
  • Miscommunication.
    Miscommunication may occur if the data or the information in the approval hasn’t been properly exchanged between employees or if the company lacks a policy on repeatable processes.
  • Flexibility issues.
    Most companies have a hybrid work environment where part of the workforce works remotely while the remaining employees work in-house. Manual approval submissions are hard to process in a remote setting and require employees working from home to go to the office to submit their documents.

Software Approval Workflow

In recent years, instead of using manual approval forms, companies have started using digital approval software or time tracking software with built-in approvals to speed up and streamline the approval workflow.

Approval software allows companies to cut back on their administrative tasks as requests can be submitted and approved in a manner of minutes. When companies adopt an approval software, they can:

  • Automate employee workflow approval.
    The software automatically processes employee-specific submittals and notifies those employees of the status of their requests. The status indicates whether the request has been approved, rejected, or if it’s still pending.
  • Set up time-saving software automation.
    The software runs repetitive tasks in the background and saves time and energy without reinventing the wheel. 
  • Delegate tasks in absence.
    In the case where the CEO or manager is absent due to illness or travel commitments and employees have a request that requires approval, the absent manager or CEO uses the software to delegate power. This way, the approval process continues even when they are absent.

Summed up, the approval software offers companies the following benefits over manual approvals:

  • Improved office efficiency and speed
  • Recurring approval permissions ownership 
  • Maximum compliance
  • Reduced company costs
  • Improved team culture
  • Clear communication encouragement
  • Reduced human error factor.