Approval Workflow

22 days ago
2 min read

The approval workflow is the series of actions where one or several persons review and approve a document, request, or any other item before it is put into operation or before its installation. Approval workflows usually pertain to who and which department are entitled to sign off on decisions and actions, thereby ensuring that accountable stakeholders have reviewed and authorized them while keeping policies and regulatory compliance.

Examples where the approval workflows can be utilized include:

  1. Reports on expenditures and remunerations.
  2. E-purchase orders and e-invoices.
  3. Requests for time off and approval of leaves.
  4. Content publishing and editorial reviewing.
  5. Contract and legal document approvals.
  6. The new product or service release outlines.

Major steps in an approval workflow normally include:

  1. Submit: An initiator of the workflow submits the item for approval, which may be accompanied by a number of supporting documents or information.
  2. Review: The item goes to a reviewer, who in turn takes a look at it based on the predefined criteria or guidelines. The reviewer can request more information or changes from the preparer before the item is approved.
  3. Approved or Rejected: If the review is positive, the item is approved; otherwise, it is rejected. The approved item should then have the chance to proceed to the next step in the workflow, while the rejected item may be taken back to the initiator for modification or be stopped.
  4. Notification: After the initiator makes the final decision regarding approval or rejection, and may contain comments or feedback from the reviewers, he notifies the author and relevant stakeholders.
  5. Complete: If approved, proceed with the item through the specified workflow, or complete it according to the directions. The rejection of any item may call for the initiator to modify it and initiate it again or take any other necessary action.

The approval workflows can be set up through almost any medium or technology: email, spreadsheets, or dedicated workflow management software. Approval workflow may be an in-built feature with many enterprise software applications; some of them include ERP, CRM, and content management systems.

Key benefits include:

  1. Enhanced accountability and transparency: Approval workflows clearly depict that important decisions and actions are channeled through reviews and authorization of respective stakeholders, thus leaving no room for errors, fraud, or abuse.
  2. Augmentation of efficiency and productivity: Automated approval workflows move faster and without friction during the review and approval processes by removing manual labor and delays.
  3. Better compliance and governance: Workflow approval assists in ensuring that the organization has consistent adherence to policies and regulatory compliance, which is documented clearly to record the chain of approvals for purposes of auditing and reporting.

The approval workflow should be designed efficiently, having clear criteria and guidelines for receiving the approvals, including a definite definition of reviewers and stakeholders with well-communicated escalation channels. Regular reviews and optimization of the workflow need to be carried out with feedback and performance metrics so that it remains effective and efficient through time.

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