How to Automate Approvals: 20+ Free Approval Process Templates

approval process

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.

They also take advantage of Process Street‘s other powerful features like rich form fields, conditional logic, dynamic due dates, and role assignments.

So, read on for:

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:

General marketing

CRO

SEO

Email marketing

Social media marketing

PPC

Onboarding

Sales

Financial

Miscellaneous

Understanding approvals: What is an approval process?

how approvals work gifAn 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

Fixed 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

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.

However, with Process Street it’s as easy as using the role assignments feature to assign someone with a members form field.

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.

Multi-level approvals

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.

Then, different individuals can be assigned to each approval task, using either the role or task assignment feature.

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”.

approvals help 1

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.
approvals help 2

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.
approvals help 3

You can choose as many or as few tasks as you like.
approvals help 4

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.
approvals help 5

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:

approvals help 6

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.

I’ve grouped them into categories for browsing convenience, and I’ll briefly explain how the approval works in each of the processes.

Marketing approval process templates

Customer journey map approval process

customer journey

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.

Click here to get a customer journey map template featuring our new approval tasks.

Blog pre-publish approval process
blog prepub

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.

Click here to get the blog pre-publish approval template.

CRO approval process templates

CRO & website optimization approval process

croIn 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!

Click here to get the CRO website optimization approval process template.

SEO approval process templates

On-page SEO approval process

seo pagePerforming 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.

Click here to get the on-page SEO approval process template.

Technical SEO audit approval process

seo audit

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.

Click here to get the technical SEO audit approval process.

Email marketing approval process templates

Email marketing campaign approval process

email marketing campaign templateA 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.

Click here to get the email marketing campaign approval template.

Newsletter template approval process

newsletter template 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.

Click here to get the newsletter template approval process.

Social media marketing approval process templates

New affiliate onboarding approval process

affiliate onboardingWhen 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.

Click here to get the new affiliate onboarding approval process template.

Social media influencer outreach approval process

social media influencer outreach

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.

Click here to get the social media influencer outreach approval process template.

PPC approval process templates

PPC audit approval process

ppc auditA 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).

Click here to get the PPC audit approval process template.

PPC weekly campaign review approval process

weekly ppc

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.

Click here to get the weekly PPC campaign approval process template.

Onboarding approval process templates

Client onboarding approval process for marketing agencies

client onboarding marketing agencySo 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.

Click here to get the client onboarding template approval process for a marketing agency.

Employee onboarding approval process

general employee onboarding

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.

It’s a relatively simple multi-level approval that will bring in multiple individuals from different departments in your organization using role and task assignments alongside the approval tasks.

Click here to get the employee onboarding approval process template.

Sales approval process templates

Weekly sales prospecting approval process

weekly sales prospectingEvery 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.

Click here to get the weekly sales prospecting approval process template.

Monthly sales report approval process

monthly sales report

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.

Click here to get the monthly sales report approval process template.

Financial approval process templates

Cash flow report approval process

cash flow reportThe cash flow report is an essential financial document, alongside the income statement and balance sheet.

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.

Click here to get the cash flow report approval process template.

Business tax preparation approval process

business tax prep

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.

Click here to get the business tax preparation approval process template.

Annual financial report approval process

annual financial report

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.

Click here to get the annual financial report approval process template.

Miscellaneous approval process templates

Holiday Leave Application

holiday leaveWhen 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.

Click here to get the holiday leave application approval process template.

FMEA analysis approval process

fmea

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.

Needless to say, FMEA provides crucial insight for many areas such as risk management and mitigation, process improvement, and business process management.

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.

Click here to get the FMEA approval process template.

SWOT analysis approval process

swot analysis template

SWOT stands for:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

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.

Click here to get the SWOT approval process template.


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?

With approvals, you can respond to urgent tasks immediately, with zero delay so you waste as little time as possible and aren’t diverting from the other important tasks on your agenda.

Master your workflow with Process Street

supercharge approvals with additional featuresYou should have a pretty good idea of how approvals work by now, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Process Street is a powerful BPM software with an arsenal of checklist features to help you streamline and automate manual tasks.

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.

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!

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Oliver Peterson

Oliver Peterson is a content writer for Process Street with an interest in systems and processes, attempting to use them as tools for taking apart problems and gaining insight into building robust, lasting solutions.


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