Approval workflows can be incorporated into any type of business because every business has workflows whether they realize it or not. Approvals are used to ensure proper procedures are followed when asking for reimbursement, renewing a contract, or purchasing tools or equipment, for example.
When you automate approval workflows, replacing paper forms and manual processes with electronic forms and automated online processes, you can expect three main benefits. For one thing, productivity goes up, since routine tasks can be done significantly faster. For another, costs drop due to higher productivity. Finally, when approval workflows are automated, errors are less likely, so fewer processes have to be reworked or pored over to locate mistakes.
Examples of Approval Workflows That Can Be Automated
There’s really no limit to the types of approval workflows that can be automated. Some of the most popular approval workflows to automate include:
• Expense reports
• Paid time off requests
• New employee onboarding
• Contract renewal
• Approval of discounts
• Publication of documents
The only real limit is your team’s imagination and the power and flexibility of your workflow software. Innovations in workflow automation happen every day, in businesses of all sizes. You may find a completely new and innovative way to automate workflow and reap the benefits in terms of improved efficiency, lower costs, and greater revenues.
Designating Approval Actions and Approval Options
When you create an automated approval workflow, you may want any number of possible actions to be taken. You may want an automatic notification email to be triggered at certain points in the process. You may need for tasks to be assigned or fields in a database to be updated. You may need for a field in a form to be locked (like when you lock in a special rate for a customer).
Additionally, you can customize approval workflows to conform to your particular way of completing processes. For instance, some processes may require multiple approvers. A request may be approved, rejected, or recalled for more information. Once approval or rejection has been issued, you may want that approval or rejection to be automatically transmitted via email to all affected parties.
An Example of Approval Workflows: Document Approval
Suppose your workgroup is responsible for creating an annual report. Approval workflows are perfect for processes like this because they keep the process moving, help keep everyone involved accountable (due to increased visibility at every step of the process), and can ensure no steps are skipped and mistakes are identified and corrected promptly.
You could create a document approval workflow that starts with a list of tasks assigned to designated personnel. One person may be assigned to work with graphics for the cover art, another may be tasked with creating a document outline, and someone else may be responsible for writing the executive summary of the document.
With an automated workflow approval process, you can create timelines for people to complete their assigned tasks (with automated notifications when deadlines are fast approaching), add or remove tasks as necessary, and distribute automatic notifications to affected parties when certain steps in the process have been completed. You no longer have to manually ensure everyone completes their tasks and can monitor progress at any time.
Non-Programmers Can Create Custom Approval Workflows
For a long time, approval workflows and other types of process automation were reserved for large enterprises that could afford the computing resources and custom programming necessary to create customized, automated workflows. All that has changed, however, as new solutions can be run in the cloud (to eliminate the need for on-site servers and their associated maintenance) with interfaces that allow creation of workflows without having to write programming code.
ProcessMaker is open source workflow automation software that allows companies of all types and sizes to automate processes in exactly the way they need. With an active user community and an impressive range of built-in templates to make it easy to start creating workflows, ProcessMaker puts the power of process automation in your hands. See for yourself. You can download the Community Edition of ProcessMaker for free, or sign up for a free trial of the ProcessMaker Enterprise Edition. Learn how easy it can be to automate approval workflows and enjoy the many benefits that result.