The process of making quick decisions is a critical part of any business. Someone makes a request and you and the rest of the company are called to decide: yes or no. This seemingly basic practice is often hampered by inefficient approval processes. Everyone loses time on executing key decisions when a faster and better way to process approvals doesn’t exist. On the other hand, with an automated system to process requests, you eliminate large scale inefficiencies and errors as well as day to-day setbacks in productivity and morale.
Decisions, or “approvals” in a company can have direct impact on your company’s ability to fund a new project, kick-start new initiatives, or even something small like getting a new marketing piece ready to post.
Let’s look at the way approval processes slow down a company. This will help us see the bigger picture as to why automating the process of approving documents and requests is so critical to your success.
Disadvantages of paper weight.
Requests made on paper always sit on someone’s desk longer than they have to. Like being stuck in traffic, you’re consistently slowed down by bottlenecks in your approval process. Even simple approvals like expense reports, if not done on time, can cost you money and stress. Further, physical documents post a threat to their confidentiality, security, and take up unnecessary space in your company and on your mind.
The disadvantages of Email Attachment-based Requests
Email attachments appear to be the go-to way of sharing files. Even with online storage options like Dropbox or Box.com email attachments clutter up your inbox. Sure, it replaces paper, but the weight’s just been shifted from your desk to your inbox.
This old-school technology is still used to collect information. Even now it’s far too common to see people attaching forms created in Excel, Word or Acrobat to emails. From expense reports, finance request documents, project change authorization, to vacation requests. On the receiving end of these documents, someone has to download it, save it, edit it, and then the process repeats again.
And then there’s the ever so frequent case of attaching the wrong file or forgetting to attach it all together. Now add the time it takes to manually enter all the information for each document. Disaster.
How to spend less time creating and approving requests
From HR, to marketing, and operations, all departments handle requests from internal and external customers. There has to be a way to collect and evaluate the performance of the requests that are being received. A request system can handle this need.
A viable system creates workflow rules and processes that take submitted forms and route them as needed. The process is simple and has a unidirectional flow that goes from A to B to C or even complex, multi-threaded flows.
Take capital expense requests for example. The Finance department may route expense requests differently based on the amount, urgency, and application of the request. Under $200k can be approved by a finance manager, while anything over $200k automatically routes to the CFO.
Take the headache away from your team with automated workflows for requests and approvals. If you’re spending time playing desk-jockey and physically signing documents and requests, that takes time away from what your real focus should be: signing new business. Automation is the hottest new potato of organizational excellence and if you want to stay competitive, grab the hot potato and pass it on to your team. Ask. Receive. Execute.