How to Handle Workflow Approvals
“Oh My God! The deadline is approaching and the project has not been finished yet!”
“All because approvals took time and were a bottleneck throughout.”
“Don’t even have anyone, in particular, to hold accountable for this delay too?”
“What to do?”
Does that sound like you? Do you feel trapped because you are responsible for delivering the project but you don’t seem to be getting any closer to closing it?
Yes – These are signs that you need to handle your workflow approvals better!
Whether you own a small or a medium-sized business – If your employees are taking more time to locate the old paperwork or to find a shared excel file by another colleague or are burdened with making calls and writing emails rather than doing the real work that matters, then this article is for you.
You need to know that it is high time that you handle your workflow better.
Workflow approvals are the roadblocks of the worst kind! Blocks that are invisible but capable of slowing down businesses and sometimes derailing them completely.
In this article, you are going to be introduced to ways in which you no longer would have to worry about meeting your deadlines and getting a hard time from your reporting manager.
But first, let us understand what Workflow Approval is.
What is Workflow Approval?
What do you think really constitutes a smart team?
There can be several answers to this but one of the answers would be the adoption of a stronger Workflow Approval strategy.
According to a study, more than 50% of the companies are of the view that strong Workflow Management provides substantial results!
Workflow Approval is the business process that is required to be reviewed at different stages and thereby signed off by someone later at a certain point in time.
Yes, the process goes through multiple checks until it is signed off. This approval process could be for anything starting from invoices, budgets, documents, etc.
Let’s take an example, a project requires your manager to be outsourcing a web agency worth $50,000, he needs to involve certain decision-makers and relevant departments such as finance, the digital team, etc. to get an approval on the same considering the budget size and end objectives.
This is just one example of a workflow approval.
Such approvals are essential and can not be ignored.
Workflow Approval is taken up with the intention of keeping it all in check, and delivering upon the desired project!
Workflow Approvals in different organizations bring different things to the table but let us understand some of the common reasons why organizations so keenly adopt this strategy.
What are the benefits of Workflow Approval?
It’s incredible that the teams that happen to follow a workflow approval strategy are able to perform daunting tasks.
Some of the benefits of a Workflow Approval process in place are:
1. It Keeps Transparency in check
A workflow approval ensures that managers and the other members of the team know the progress of the team as they need to review different stages of the process to proceed further.
Transparency can play a major role to boost team productivity as everyone knows where they stand in the pipeline.
2. It helps in enforcing accountability
If you are working in a team, you would know this very well – No team has all dedicated hardworking people in it.
Every team has a procrastinator who may excel at his work but does not get himself to plow through and only works under deadlines or when there’s some pressure created.
A workflow approval process ensures that there are small goals the team needs to achieve to be able to sign off later and hence has deadlines in place which makes the whole process really effective by finding out who messed up and who is to be held accountable for not being at par.
3. It encourages communication and better collaboration within the teams
Would you like to be working in an environment where nobody wants to talk?
Such an environment is toxic and often demotivates the employees and the work approval process aims to eliminate that.
Since the very aim of the work approval process is to have a team of dedicated individuals working through a collaborative effort, it brings in an atmosphere that encourages individuals to communicate better to collaborate effectively.
No team can make it big unless the team members understand the essence of a good communicating environment and such an environment only leads to creative out-of-the-box progressive ideas and plans.
4. It makes room for adapting to changes
It’s a nightmare to bring about any kind of a change in the routine processes of the employees. You know exactly where I’m getting at!
With the work approval process in place, there are always improvised versions of how a task should be done to get approved by the supervisors and the whole team is always on a lookout for efficient ways of getting the work approved quickly and progress in the pipeline.
What is going wrong currently?
Despite all the benefits we just talked about, most businesses still don’t reap the benefits of this process because they don’t know the ways to manage it well.
Here’s an example of how the workflow approval pipeline works currently in some businesses:
Imagine a workflow pipeline wherein a particular document is needed to be reviewed by 4 people in the team and is thereby emailed on a thread to these 4 people.
The doc is reviewed by all these people separately and is given suggestions for improvisation by all these 4 people.
You may be feeling that it’s a great way to make your doc flawless, but believe me, this is exactly the reason why your workflow needs to be managed better.
Let’s understand what happened in this process:
- Exchange of a minimum of 10 to 12 emails
- Confusion for the 4 people to find out what suggestions have already been made and what’s left to be suggested by sifting through everything that has been said
- Confusion for the one preparing the doc to not miss out on key information
- Delay in the process if any of the 4 people haven’t yet approved or made suggestions
Such a process only means a troublesome and lengthy journey for your project.
To escape such a journey, you can take a few steps to make a substantial change in your workflow approval journey and make a positive difference.
How to Handle Workflow Approval?
1. Plan out your Approval Processes
No one pays much attention to the journey but all everyone focuses on is – the destination they want to reach. Little do they understand the value of the journey they go through to achieve their goals.
Your first step towards managing your workflow approval better should be to better analyze your business process. While you sip on your coffee, try to analyze the way you’re going to map out the process and find out what really works and what hinders the process.
Draft how the work is going to pass through different stages and what would be required to be approved. Once you have planned the journey, focus on streamlining your routes and making it more efficient. Start by eliminating unnecessary added stages in your pipeline and move towards an approach that focuses on creating a wiggle room for complex situations that may arise too.
Having such a realistic and practical approach would help you juggle complexity instead of taking your project off track. A well-detailed plan would help you be on track at all times and would help you work with tricky compliance too.
2. Have a Centralized Online system for your data
The most important yet neglected aspect of a workflow approval process is how you are managing to share your files with your teammates. You may not believe it but something so small can really act as the biggest stumbling block for your project!
Sending large files back and forth often corrupts the file or changes its original format which often creates differences in the way your data has been shared for the approval.
Not just that, it delays the whole process if it hasn’t been perceived the way it was intended to.
Therefore, it is essential to adopt a Centralized Online system for your data wherein everyone views the same document. It not only makes the process save up on time but also helps make changes to data easier by holding up all the comments, views, feedbacks, markups in one place, and making it accessible by all.
3. Look out for different Workflow Approval Management Softwares
Everyone today is giving up on manual tedious tasks and moving towards an automated technology-driven means to get things done.
Without a doubt, that’s a smarter move as it leaves you and your team with more time to focus on real things that matter and bring about a substantial difference.
A workflow approval process is no cakewalk and can really be overwhelming for managers and employees to take care of on their own. Due to this complexity, the market for Workflow management Software is booming and you have a pool of options available.
However, choosing just any workflow approval project management software can make matters more complex if it does not suit your style of working by enforcing your team to adopt some ineffective and troublesome workflow management strategies.
But if you choose the right software that fits your needs, you can be working more efficiently within no time by saving on unnecessary costs and time.
While choosing the right fit for your organization, you should be aware of a few key features that set the software apart from the rest:
1. Should be a Cloud-Based platform:
It is essential that the quality of the files that are shared should remain intact whether the files are small or big. A good software would be the one wherein this is kept in mind that the teams share huge files and that such files require a server that does not mess up with the quality of the doc.
- This would not delay the approval process
- This will maintain the quality of work
2. Makes room for working in Real-time:
Remote working has become a thing now due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Whether you are a small business or a large business, all teams seem to be working remotely in a digital space. A great software would be the one that would allow for a digital space for meetings and encourage collaboration for speedier approvals.
3. Provides you with tools to customize your workflows:
Make sure that while you pick the software that fits your needs, you check on the ability of the software to provide you the option to custom the approval routes as per your organizational needs. This will help your teams to adapt to the process effectively and would not hinder the process.
A speedier workflow approval process paves way for higher productivity and unlocks higher revenue for your company.
But productivity is not an overnight game. It requires you to put in the blood and sweat, but smartly.
Carefully managed and detailed workflows help your teams to really power through what they do the best.
It’s time you focus on skyrocketing your revenues by taking measures that help you move on to a smarter and faster approval workflow.
I hope this article got you thinking about the workflows you are part of in your business and you are already thinking about how to optimize your workflows for greater efficiency and growth of your business.
Shoot your thoughts in the comment section below and I would be happy to hear from you 🙂