Workflow software How to Optimize Your Workflow Approval Process for Maximum Results

How to Optimize Your Workflow Approval Process for Maximum Results

Can the workflow approval process benefit you?

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re no stranger to the manual process of tracking changes, sending emails back and forth, and waiting for approvals. 

But don’t worry; we’ve got good news!

Approval workflow software can streamline this tedious process and save you time, money, and the risk of errors. How? By automating it!

In this blog post, we’ll explore what a workflow approval process is, give you the 5 essential stages of a successful approval process, and real-life examples of how approvals work.

So, let’s dive in and make your approval process a breeze!

What is a workflow approval process?

Workflow Approval Process

Most organizations regularly handle documents that require approval from multiple stakeholders. I’m sure you’re familiar with the tedious and time-consuming process of:

  • Manually tracking changes
  • Sending emails back and forth
  • Waiting for approvals 

Fortunately, there are document approval workflow software solutions that can streamline this process, saving time and reducing the risk of errors.

So what is a workflow approval process?

A workflow approval process is a set of procedures that a document must go through before it can be approved for distribution or publication. 

The document approval workflow involves multiple reviewers who need to provide feedback, approve or reject the document, and track the progress of the approval process. 

Using document approval workflow software, such as Process Street or SharePoint, can help automate and centralize the process, allowing for greater collaboration, efficiency, and accuracy.

5 key elements for a successful approval process

To streamline the document approval process, let’s break it down into a set of key stages:

Here’s a detailed look at each of the 5 stages of the document approval workflow:

1. Draft  

The first stage of the approval process is drafting the document

That meant creating the initial version of the document and identifying the stakeholders who will need to review and approve it. 

During this stage, it’s important to clearly define the purpose of the document, its target audience, and its desired outcomes. 

This will ensure that the document is clear, concise, and meets the needs of the intended audience.

2. Review 

The next stage is reviewing the document. 

This involves soliciting feedback from stakeholders and incorporating it into the document as appropriate. 

Establish a feedback process that allows stakeholders to provide input in a timely and organized way. 

For example, use Process Street’s Forms to quickly gather feedback and make revisions.

3. Revisit 

Once feedback has been received, the document will need to be revised based on that feedback. 

This may involve making changes to the text, structure, or formatting of the document. 

Make sure to keep the document focused and on-topic while incorporating feedback that improves its clarity, accuracy, and effectiveness.

4. Approve

When you’ve made all the revisions, the document will need to be approved by relevant stakeholders. 

You may have to obtain electronic signatures or other forms of formal approval. Again, Process Street’s approvals can make the process smoother.

During this stage, it’s important to ensure that all stakeholders have reviewed the document and that any outstanding issues or concerns have been addressed.

5. Distribute

Finally, once the document has been approved, it can be distributed to the intended audience. 

Here, you will upload the document to a website or content management system, send it via email, or print it for distribution. 

Keep an eye on the document to ensure that it is appropriately formatted and accessible.

Real-life examples of an approval process 

One of the best ways to understand the approval process is to look at real-world examples. 

There are many different types of approval processes, and each one may be tailored to your needs, depending on the industry you work in.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of approval processes in different contexts.

Employee onboarding

When a new employee joins your business, there are several approvals that need to be completed before they can start work. 

Luckily, this doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems.

With Process Street, you can create an approval workflow that completely automates the onboarding process. 

For example, you can create a workflow that sends an approval request to the HR department to review and approve the employee’s background check, employment contract, and other documents.

Once HR approves the documents, the workflow can trigger notifications to IT and other departments to set up the employee’s accounts and access to company systems.

Purchase order approval

Organizations often have a formal process for approving purchase orders to ensure that purchases are necessary and within budget. 

Process Street uses AI to allow you to create an approval workflow quickly, so you can start buying!

For example, you can create a workflow that sends an approval request to the relevant department head to review and approve the purchase order.

When the department head approves the purchase order, the workflow can trigger notifications to finance and procurement departments to process the order.

Marketing campaign approval

Marketing teams often need to get approval for campaigns before they can be launched. 

Here too, Process Street comes to the rescue! Create your approval workflow in seconds and use conditional logic to create rules.

For example, you can create a workflow that sends an approval request to the marketing director to review and approve the campaign plan, content, and budget. 

When approved, the workflow can trigger notifications to other departments to schedule and launch the campaign.

How to create approval workflow in Servicenow

Workflow Approval Process

ServiceNow is a popular platform for managing IT workflows, including approval workflows. 

If you’re looking to create an approval workflow in ServiceNow, here are some tips and best practices to keep in mind:

Define the approval process

The first step in creating an approval workflow in ServiceNow is to define the approval process itself. 

This may involve:

  • Identifying the key stakeholders who will be involved in the approval process
  • Defining the criteria for approval
  • Mapping out the sequence of approvals that will be required

Use ServiceNow’s approval engine

ServiceNow provides a built-in approval engine.

This engine supports a wide range of approval scenarios, including:

  • Manager approvals
  • Multiple approvals
  • Dynamic approvals based on data in the request

Leverage pre-built approval workflows

ServiceNow also provides a number of pre-built approval workflows that can be customized to meet your specific needs. 

These workflows can help you get up and running quickly and ensure that your approval process is aligned with best practices and industry standards.

Automate approval requests

To streamline the approval process, consider automating approval requests wherever possible. 

So, for example, with automation, you’ll be able to set up triggers that automatically generate approval requests based on predefined criteria, such as:

  • Request type
  • Dollar amount
  • Personal information
  • And so on

Test and review

Finally, it’s important to test and iterate your approval workflow to ensure that it’s working as intended. 

Running simulations to test different scenarios may be useful, as will soliciting feedback from stakeholders and then making adjustments.

Create an approval in Smartsheet 

So you want to create an approval in Smartsheet? 

Smartsheet is a popular project management tool that offers a variety of features to help teams collaborate and work more efficiently. 

It allows the approver to provide feedback or comments on the item being approved, making the approval process more efficient.

Smartsheet also offers some templates for approval workflows, which you can customize to meet your needs. 

But did you know you can do all this and more with Process Street?

Because Process Street is so powerful, it’ll completely automate the approval process, regardless of how complex it is.

And thanks to a massive library of pre-made templates, your job will become much easier! 

No more manual workflow building, Process Street’s new AI workflow builder creates highly curated workflows in seconds.

Want to find out more? Check out our free trial to take Process Street for a ride and decide if it is right for you.

How to create an approval workflow in Sharepoint

Another good tool for managing documents and streamlining workflows is SharePoint. 

To create an approval workflow in SharePoint, you’ll need to start by setting up some things first. It’s not an instant process! 

To create a SharePoint approval workflow with dynamic approvers, you’ll need to use Power Automate. 

Power Automate allows you to create custom workflows that can automate a wide range of tasks, including document approval workflows with multiple approvers.

Unfortunately, even though often used by companies, SharePoint requires some knowledge of workflow building. What’s more, it doesn’t have extensive process management features.

So what if you’d like to take advantage of: 

  • Advanced process automation
  • Conditional logic
  • Role assignments
  • Workflow AI builder
  • Pre-made templates
  • Beginner friendly interface 

In that case, there are better alternatives, and Process Street may be your best bet. 

Process Street is an amazing example of a workflow approval process software that can do all of these things and more!

Let’s wrap up!

A document approval workflow is an essential process that every organization needs to manage its documents’ approvals efficiently. 

Without a structured approval process, you’ll face risks of errors, delays, and other bottlenecks that can impede your productivity. 

Luckily, document approval workflow software will help you automate and centralize approval processes, allowing for greater collaboration, efficiency, and accuracy.

All you have to do is choose software that best suits your business style and budget. When you do, you’ll quickly discover that the approval process doesn’t have to be complicated!

Take control of your workflows today