Approvals are everywhere. If you’ve worked on any project involving any kind of deliverables, chances are you’re all-too-familiar with the process of requesting and approving (or rejecting) work.
Documents, prototypes, reports, mock-ups, wireframes, storyboards, and even more internally-facing elements like simple holiday leave requests. All of these represent different kinds of approval process, and approvals are an integral workflow element.
Approvals can also represent a major bottleneck.
Consider how you are currently approving work in your business. Perhaps you have a vague process involving emails, and if you’re particularly attentive you might be tracking it in a spreadsheet.
These methods are slow and prone to delays. You have no way of tracking anything reliably, you are more likely to miss approval windows, and information has to be sent manually between individuals.
What’s more, it’s quite difficult to improve this process without the proper system in place. You need to make sure you’ve got the right tools to optimize your approval process.
Process Street‘s approvals feature is the solution to this problem.
We created the approvals feature to make the process of approving work as fast and easy as possible.
With approvals, you can:
- Get notified as soon as work is ready for approval
- Approve (or reject) work with zero friction using a clear, streamlined interface
- Approve on-the-go, from your phone’s email inbox
- Synergize with many other Process Street features to optimize process efficiency
- Save time and stay on top of your workflow
In this post, I have a trove of templates to showcase the approvals feature. All of the templates in this article are custom-built to make your life easier.
So, read on for:
- A quick introduction to approvals
- Different types of approval process
- How to add approval tasks in Process Street
- Approval process best practices
- 20+ free approval process templates (each use-case explained)
- How to approve tasks straight from your phone
- Optimize your approvals with more process street features
- More great workflow automation resources
Read on to learn how to hit the ground running with the approvals feature.
If you just want the templates, here’s a list of each one that appears in this article:
Social media marketing
- Cash flow report approval process
- Business tax preparation approval process
- Annual financial report approval process
- Holiday leave application
- FMEA template: Failure mode and effects analysis approval process
- SWOT analysis approval process
Understanding approvals: What is an approval process?
An approval process is any process involving one or more tasks that require some kind of approval or sign-off from a manager (or other relevant person) in order to complete the process.
In many ways an approval process is a form of quality management; it’s a method of enforcing quality control by approving or rejecting work based on a preconceived standard.
Process Street makes approvals simple.
With our approvals feature you can insert approval tasks into any checklist template and can effortlessly approve or reject work in your processes.
The power of Process Street’s approvals
Getting things approved can be time-consuming and inconvenient for everyone involved. Like all aspects of business process management, it’s a question of optimization.
How can you reduce the time and energy taken to complete the simple manual tasks like approvals in your business?
Some approvals can be automated, but there will always be some tasks that need a pair of human eyes to sign off, so to speak.
For these approval tasks, you need to make sure you’re notified as soon as the work is done, so you can waste no time approving or rejecting it.
When you’re using Process Street’s approvals feature, you can:
- Save time and money by instantly approving or rejecting tasks as soon as they’re ready,
- Approve or reject tasks from your Gmail inbox,
- Turn your process automation to overdrive with Process Street’s other powerful workflow automation features like conditional logic, role assignments, and dynamic due dates.
Different types of approval process
You have two main use case types for approvals:
- Fixed approvals
- Variable approvals
- Multi-level approvals
These are approvals where you will always know who needs to approve the work.
For example, something like a holiday leave application will pretty much always require the approval of a manager or HR department.
You might set up a fixed approval by using a specific email template, and letting the person know manually.
In Process Street, you can use task assignments to assign individuals who will always be responsible for certain tasks.
Variable approvals are when the person responsible for approving the work is subject to change based on various factors.
In this case, you need the flexibility to assign different individuals based on the context.
Typically it’s quite difficult to enforce variable approvals without resorting to a bit of manual legwork.
With the basic types of approval you might encounter out of the way, let’s get down to business: setting up an approval task in Process Street.
Larger companies have sprawling, complex processes. This often means many people will be involved in many different approvals within a single process.
These multi-level approvals are easy with our approvals feature. You can reduce bureaucracy and automatically notify multiple individuals as and when they are needed to approve specific tasks in a long and complicated process.
This is as simple as adding multiple approval tasks at different points in a template, and selecting different tasks for each approval task.
How to add an approval task in Process Street
Before we look at the templates in this pack, it’s worth quickly going over how to add approval tasks into your own Process Street templates.
It’s super simple, and will probably take you about two minutes.
To start with, decide which template you’d like to add an approval task to and click “Edit this template”.
Then, decide where in your process you want the approval to appear. Select an existing task; your approval will appear below.
Approvals are added with the “Approval” button on the bottom left of the screen, under the list of tasks in your template.
So, click the “Approval” button.
This creates a separate task known as an “approval task”.
The approval task will appear directly below whatever task you had selected.
Now, click on the green button inside of the approval task to select the tasks you’d like to get approved.
You can choose as many or as few tasks as you like.
Note: Remember to always assign someone to the tasks you’re looking for approval on. This enables them to receive a notification when a task has been approved or rejected.
Tasks you’ve selected for approval will now appear in light blue on the left-hand side of your screen.
And you’re done! Remember to save your edits and you’ll be ready to start running your checklists with approvals!
If you want to learn more about approvals, including how to submit work, and how to approve or reject tasks in an approval process, head on over to our Knowledge Base page for approvals!
Note: Approvals are a Professional Plan feature only.
Approval process best practices
When you’re building an approval process, there are some things you’ll want to remember if you want to make sure you’re optimizing your workflow.
- Assign your approval tasks: Always use either role assignments or task assignments to assign an individual to the approval tasks in your process. That way, they will be instantly notified when the task is ready for their approval.
- Set due dates: Enforce deadlines and make sure the work is done on time with dynamic and task due dates. Due dates will remind the person approving the task by email when the task is due, and it will also be prioritized in their Inbox.
- Set stop tasks: Stop tasks will pause the process until the task has been approved, making sure that everything necessary is submitted before approval.
- Set permissions: Use permissions to show or hide certain tasks on a need-to-know basis. This is useful for making sure sensitive data or comments on approval tasks are only visible to the appropriate people.
Here’s an example of what an approval task with a user assigned to it might look like:
Ok, we’ve covered the basics, but if you want to dive deeper into the approvals feature, I’d definitely recommend checking out some of our other resources.
Here you’ll find plenty more use cases and step-by-step instructions for maximizing the power of approvals:
The next section, and the real substance of this article, focuses on a bunch of fully built-out checklist templates that use our new approvals feature.
Marketing approval process templates
Customer journey map approval process
This is a checklist for creating a customer journey map. There is a clear deliverable (the customer journey map) that will require an approval.
Approvals work great when there’s a tangible item or output of the process, like a report, a flow chart, an article, an image, an invoice, or anything like that.
Once the checklist has been followed and the customer journey map is ready to be approved, there is an approval task for both the marketing director and the customer service director.
Each of them is assigned to their respective approval tasks, and will be notified that the customer journey map is ready for their approval.
Blog pre-publish approval process
This blog post pre-publish checklist will help your content team save time on approving or rejecting blog post drafts after you or your writers have gone through the checklist.
As a writer, there are multiple instances where an approval might be needed:
- First draft of an article
- Keyword research and targeting
- Content SEO
- Revisions and edits based on feedback
These are just a few examples. The approval task implemented in this template comes in the form of the finished blog post.
Here, the editor approves the final blog post and the process can continue, with the post ready for any final edits and, ultimately, scheduling.
CRO approval process templates
CRO & website optimization approval process
In this example, a conversion rate optimization process involves tweaking and fine-tuning website content.
Before those changes go live, they’ll need some kind of executive-level approval, or at the very least the approval of the head of marketing.
Once the ten-step CRO strategy has been devised, there’s an approval task to do exactly that.
This allows the manager to jump right in and see the whole CRO strategy already prepared in front of them, just waiting for approval.
You can even check from your phone!
SEO approval process templates
On-page SEO approval process
Performing on-page SEO will need to be approved by the marketing manager or SEO specialist.
This simple approval process allows you to quickly see the results of an on-page SEO checklist.
The process only has a single approval, but you could easily edit the template to set up a multi-stage approval, for example if you wanted to shepherd along any specific SEO elements.
Technical SEO audit approval process
Just like the on-page SEO checklist, a more technical SEO audit report will need at least one final approval after the main audit has been completed.
Here we have a simple approval task to notify you as soon as a comprehensive report on the current SEO status of the website has been completed.
You can then approve or reject it seamlessly with the approvals feature.
Email marketing approval process templates
Email marketing campaign approval process
A lot of time and energy goes into crafting an email marketing campaign, so it makes sense that you’d utilize approvals to maintain a high standard of quality throughout the process.
This template walks you through the process of designing and building your own email marketing campaign from scratch. There’s a wide scope for approval tasks here, and this template could easily be edited to implement multi-level approvals.
But we’ve kept it simple, and placed an approval on the final email copy, to be checked before the email campaign goes live.
Newsletter template approval process
This newsletter template process is designed to help you avoid some of the common mistakes when building your newsletter.
Each step is important and the order is enforced by use of Process Street’s stop tasks feature.
The approval comes in after the final newsletter template has been prepared and uploaded.
Make your life easier by streamlining this approval so you can focus your energy on creating an engaging newsletter.
Social media marketing approval process templates
New affiliate onboarding approval process
When you’re dealing with new affiliates, a good onboarding process will help you to save time and double down on the partners that are the best fit for you.
In this process, the approval feature is used to bring in a manager or executive-level individual to confirm the contractual terms of the affiliate partnership.
The manager can just jump in, approve (or reject) and jump out again.
There’s no additional legwork or conditional tasks centered around following up with the individual, so the approval is quick and easy.
Social media influencer outreach approval process
You want to maximize the reach of your social media influencer outreach efforts. That’s what this process template is for.
One of the biggest factors in a social media influencer outreach campaign is the mode of communication. Whatever medium you’re using for outreach, are you sure you’re connecting with each influencer in a meaningful and impactful way?
Highly personal, customized blog and social content are a great way to make a great impression in your outreach efforts. This template includes an approval task to make sure each of the content plans are up to the highest standards.
It’s an example of a multi-layer approval. Each content plan will need to be approved before any outreach goes ahead.
PPC approval process templates
PPC audit approval process
A comprehensive PPC audit report takes a lot of time and focus to properly complete. With something as sensitive as PPC, you need to make sure your efforts are not misplaced.
This template is a multi-level approval, with approval tasks for both the initial PPC audit goals and the final audit report.
The purpose behind this approval workflow is to allow the audit to proceed as smoothly as possible while bringing in management to review key milestones of the project, namely:
- the initial goal-setting (to make sure the audit is in-line with the account goals, and;
- the final audit report (to ensure a comprehensive PPC audit report).
PPC weekly campaign review approval process
This weekly PPC campaign checklist will help you keep track of each of your PPC accounts with regular, highly insightful campaign reports.
Here is a great example of a straightforward approval where management (or whoever is approving the work) is brought in at the end of the process for a final review of the report.
It’s a great way of keeping team leads on top of regular progress without bogging them down with long and complicated processes.
Simply have the person running the checklist assign the relevant manager, and they’ll be notified as soon as the work is ready for approval.
Onboarding approval process templates
Client onboarding approval process for marketing agencies
So you’ve just closed a deal with a new client, and your immediate challenge is maintaining that initial momentum and shepherding them into an engaging onboarding process.
Onboarding represents the foundation of your new client relationship, so it’s important you take steps to make sure things go smoothly.
One thing you can do in the case of this marketing agency onboarding process is implement an approval task to make sure your marketing plan is ready to be delivered to the new client ASAP.
Lucky for you, this template comes ready-made with an approval task just like that.
Once your marketing manager approves the marketing plan for the individual client being onboarded, you’ll be ready to proceed to have an orientation call with them and inform them of all the important details relating to their project start, roadmap, and all that good stuff.
Employee onboarding approval process
One of the first things to sort when onboarding a new employee is their paperwork. This checklist incorporates a simple approval task to make sure the proper paperwork has been submitted.
There’s also a secondary approval further along the process for approving the first project assigned to the new employee.
Sales approval process templates
Weekly sales prospecting approval process
Every week, your sales team hauls in a fresh batch of leads. This checklist is designed to help you locate as many high-quality prospects as possible, and is the first step in an outbound sales approach.
At the end of the process, you’ll have a neat list of prospects arranged in order of their perceived value.
This would be a good time to bring in a sales team lead to approve the list, so that you can wrap up the process and push the list over to the rest of the sales team.
And, the template has an approval task at the end of the process for doing just that.
Monthly sales report approval process
Sales reports to assess your team’s performance, each and every month.
Similar to the weekly sales prospecting checklist, this template contains a single approval task for approving the final monthly sales report.
The principal benefit is also the same; streamline the whole process by bringing in management for an approval task as and when they’re needed, as soon as the report is ready.
Financial approval process templates
Cash flow report approval process
As an accountant, you want to be able to present your client with as much of your expertise as possible, in as simple a delivery as possible.
This process allows you to bring your client in as and when the finished cash flow report is complete. There is an approval task that will be assigned to them to notify them of the finished report.
Business tax preparation approval process
Filing a tax return can be a long and complicated process, which is exactly why so many people enlist accountants. As with any financial process, you want to keep things simple and make sure instructions are clear for each step.
The last thing you want to do is waste time gathering documents, or worse, scheduling a meeting with your accountant without preparing the relevant documents beforehand.
This approval task will make sure your accountant can be sure your documentation is in order before moving forward with your business taxes.
It’s a simple approval step, but one that can save you a massive headache.
Annual financial report approval process
The annual financial report contains an overview of a company’s entire operations during the course of the year.
This template summarizes financial activity while also including a message from the CEO and projections for the future.
Once the finished report has been prepared, verification is needed before submission to the relevant regulatory body. In this case, a member form field is used to assign the relevant individual to the approval task.
Miscellaneous approval process templates
Holiday Leave Application
When you or an employee has to request time off, they will usually need to go through some kind of approval.
Whether it’s a check by HR or the line manager, this template will help you streamline the whole process by notifying HR and the line manager immediately, and allowing them to approve the application instantly.
FMEA analysis approval process
The FMEA: Failure Modes and Effects Analysis process will help you identify problems and weaknesses in your business, and organize them in terms of their priority so you can resolve them more efficiently.
It is also an invaluable tool to make sure all stakeholders involved in a given process or project are on the same page, with a clear understanding of the areas for improvement of the business.
Since FMEA informs so many important aspects of a business strategy, it’s doubly important that the final FMEA analysis is properly approved before being acted on.
This process brings in management for a final approval task of the completed FMEA grid. The email widget can then be used to distribute the FMEA grid after the approval.
SWOT analysis approval process
SWOT stands for:
It’s another kind of business analysis process. Ideally, you want to include a variety of different viewpoints from around the organization.
You can use a SWOT analysis to help build a more objective and unbiased picture of the strengths and weaknesses facing your business.
The approval task in this process is designed to pull in management at the end, once the completed analysis has been completed.
How to approve tasks straight from your phone
Approvals let you deal with work pretty fast. What’s even faster than using Process Street in-browser is approving and rejecting tasks with your phone’s email app.
Just pull out your phone and approve work directly from your email inbox. You could be on a morning commute, walking back from lunch, or even waiting around in an airport. Now you can approve work anywhere with Process Street.
As soon as the work is ready to be approved, you’ll get an email.
You can see the work submitted in the email.
Just tap “Approve” or “Reject”.
There you have it. You’ve just approved tasks via email on your phone!
Pretty easy, right?
Master your workflow with Process Street
You should have a pretty good idea of how approvals work by now, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Why stop at approvals when you can optimize your entire business process library and achieve true business process mastery.
Both approval tasks and regular tasks alike, you can power-up your processes with these Process Street features:
More workflow automation resources
Whether you’re just getting started with Process Street, or an advanced user looking to work some magic, you will probably find something in this section to help you improve your day-to-day business processes.
- The Complete Guide to Business Process Management
- The Ultimate Guide to Business Process Automation
- Ultimate Guide to Small Business Automation with Zapier
- What is Form Automation Software? How to Pick the Best Form Software
- Form Automation: Turning Your Checklists Into Databases
You can also check out this intro webinar for a great introduction to Process Street and all its features.
So, that’s just about everything approvals related for now.
As you’re considering your next process improvement, why not upgrade to the Professional pricing plan today and put the “pro” in approvals?
What are your thoughts on the approvals feature? How do you incorporate approval tasks into your processes? How do you do approvals otherwise? Let me know in the comments!