Without the right approvals, business processes can come to a grinding halt. When things are held up because something requiring approval is sitting in a queue, people want to know where the bottleneck is.
In theory, tracking the progress of an approval as it makes its way through a business process should help speed things up. For one thing, you know who is likely holding up the process. Additionally, you hope that the person who needs to approve a request will receive the proper notification and will act because they don’t want to be the one causing a delay.
One of the most common tracking methods is using a spreadsheet, such as in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Yet even though spreadsheet vendors are trying to give users more control by adding workflows to their products, their solutions are still cumbersome and difficult to manage.
The purpose of a spreadsheet is to organize, analyze, store, and present data in a tabular format. Spreadsheets are good for many things, such as performing calculations. By writing up a quick formula, you can analyze numbers associated with other fields. Spreadsheets are also perfect for creating charts and graphs. They present data in a clear, concise, colorful format.
Because of the tabular presentation of spreadsheets, they have become a de facto method of tracking information. You can create a row that shows a list of people—in this case, a list of approvers—and create another row that reports the status of their approval. By glancing over the spreadsheet, you can see who approved specific items and when they did.
You can also see who did not approve and even who did not receive whatever it is that needs approval. However, this is often a manual process that requires someone to read through a lengthy email thread or even schedule a face-to-face discussion to get an answer.
You can see how using spreadsheets to track the approval process is time-consuming and prone to error. If someone approves a document or a form but the email reply is missing, the information is incorrect. The same can be said if the person tracking the process forgets to change the status or makes some other small mistake.
There are add-ons that allow for some type of automation of this process, but you need to know how to enable these add-ons and connect them to other solutions. Not only do you need to have the knowledge to do this, but you also need to have the right privileges with any systems you plan on connecting to. If you don’t have the right access level, you’ll be back to manually tracking with your spreadsheet.
A more modern way to automate and track your organization’s approval process is to leverage a workflow solution such as Decisions. Workflow solutions are built specifically to make business processes run much more smoothly.
Workflow automation software allows you to:
Decisions workflow solutions make this easier for non-technical employees by providing a no-code interface for building approval processes. Without having to write any code, business users are able to leverage a drag-and-drop interface to build forms and workflows and to apply automation to make the entire process easy and error-free. Using the approval chain feature, approvers are linked and layered to define the workflow that the approval needs to follow. Users don’t need to gain outside permissions, rely on someone with expertise in a programming language, or waste time on manual tracking.
To see how Decisions workflow software can help you automate and track the approval process, take some time to explore the tutorials and webinars available here.