Streamline Your Approval Process with These 5 Steps

What happens when your approval process gets bogged down and is no longer effective or efficient?

If you have an approval process in place, then you know that it’s a vital tool for ensuring accuracy and keeping operations moving quickly. But what happens when your approval process gets bogged down and is no longer effective or efficient? You’ll find yourself stuck in an endless cycle of requests and signoffs with no end in sight. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to streamline your approval process without sacrificing accuracy or control. Read on for 5 easy ways to speed up your approval process before it grinds to a halt.

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The approval process is when an organization or institution reviews and evaluates a proposal, item, or request to determine if it meets their standards. It typically involves review by multiple people, often involving feedback in order to reach an informed decision.

What is an Approval Process?

An approval process is a series of determinations that must be met in order for a specific action to be authorized. This process can help protect organizations from unnecessary risks such as making unauthorized purchases or entering contracts with unacceptably high liabilities. An approval process also allows an organization to make decisions based on protocols that have been thoughtfully established by their management teams and adapted over the years to ensure optimal operations.

In terms of workload, an approval process can be either a help or hindrance depending on the setup and individual company needs. On one hand, an approval process that is overly complicated can lead to backlogs, bottlenecks, and miscommunications, slowing down progress and ultimately resulting in frustrated stakeholders. However, when used correctly as part of a well-crafted workflow, an approval process can eventually become automated and streamlined, eliminating extra steps and adding efficiency to teams' processes.

The pros and cons of a specific approval process should always be carefully evaluated; what works for one team may not work for another. After taking into account the overall objectives of the business, the organizational structure, and the logistics surrounding each task requiring approval, organizations should strive to create structured decision-making processes that incorporate these five steps outlined in this article.

Now that we’ve established an understanding about what constitutes an approval process and discussed some of the key considerations for creating a successful one, let's take a look at different types of business approval processes in the next section.

  • According to a McKinsey Report, it takes an average of 48 days for companies to complete the typical purchase order - from requisition to receiving the goods or services.
  • Research conducted by Capterra found that the median processing time is 14 days across industries, with the fastest approvals taking 1 day and the longest taking 75 days.
  • A study conducted by Deloitte in 2016 found that organizations could save up to 25% of their administrative cost if they reduce the amount of paperwork in their approval processes.

Types of Business Approval Processes

When it comes to establishing a successful business structure, having an efficient approval process is essential for progress. There are several types of business approval processes which can be used in order to streamline the way in which decisions are made.

The most basic type of business approval process requires decisions to be approved by one or more leaders of a company. Generally speaking, decisions approved by a single leader will likely have fewer restrictions compared to those needing multiple levels of approval. However, using a single individual as the decision-maker could lead to problems if they are away from work or unable to complete their task in a timely manner.

In comparison, having multiple levels of approval processes allows for different individuals to vet proposals before the ultimate decision is made. This approach may be lengthier but ensures multiple perspectives on any particular issue and allows for better problem solving over time.

Finally, some companies make use of a hybrid approach that combines both types of approval processes depending on each individual situation. This allows for important decisions to be made quickly while insignificant ones require more stringent criteria.

Both approaches have their own pros and cons, but ultimately what works best depends upon the context and scope of the company’s goals. In any case, having an efficient system of approvals in place helps ensure that businesses remain productive and profitable.

Now that you know more about the types of business approval processes available, let's take a look at the steps involved in creating an effective one in the next section.

Steps in an Approval Process

The approval process is a crucial part of any organization’s operations. It can involve different steps, depending on the particular context and the organization’s own unique policies and procedures. Generally, there are four main stages in an approval process: collecting documentation, approval request, approval evaluation, and approval decision. Each stage needs to be addressed in order to ensure that all requirements have been met before moving on to the next step.

Collecting Documentation: The first step in the approval process is for applicants to collect all required documents and forms for submission. This includes things like financial statements, legal documents, contracts, and more. All of these materials should be carefully reviewed and checked for accuracy before being submitted. In some cases, additional information might be needed from third-parties such as suppliers or regulators before proceeding.

Approval Request: Once all the necessary documentation has been gathered, it needs to be submitted along with the approval request. This is when the requestor formally submits their application and explains why they are seeking approval, what their goals are and how they plan to achieve them. Depending on the situation, this may need to follow internal protocols or specific rules set out by external authorities.

Approval Evaluation: Once the request has been received, it will then be evaluated by an authorization team or authority. They will assess the application based on a variety of criteria including whether it meets all applicable regulations or company policies; if there is sufficient evidence that the objectives proposed can be achieved; and if all relevant documentation has been provided. If any issues are identified during this process, corrective action may be necessary before it can move forward to the next step.

Approval Decision: After careful evaluation of the request and all submitted materials, an ultimate decision will be made either granting or denying approval. If approved, instructions will typically be included with them outlining what happens next in terms of implementation and follow-up measures. If not approved, then requirements normally need to be fulfilled before resubmission can take place.

Through careful planning and following each of these steps closely, organizations can ensure that their internal processes remain efficient and effective while helping to bring any important projects or initiatives closer to fruition quickly and successfully.

Now that a better understanding of possible steps in an approval process has been established, it's time to look at how organizations can streamline this process even further by gathering necessary documents and forms in advance.

Gather Necessary Documents and Forms

Gathering necessary documents and forms is an important step in streamlining any approval process. This step must be done thoroughly in order to ensure that the approval process is successful. The documents and forms needed will vary depending on the type of approval process, but they can generally include contracts, agreements, surveys, and waivers.

In some cases, legal documents may be required such as a notarized signature or license agreement to verify identity or authorize a transaction. It’s important to take into account all relevant documents when gathering them so as not to miss anything. For example, if there’s a requirement for a signed agreement with customers, you should make sure to collect signatures from both sides.

It’s important to remember that the processing of these documents and forms can be time consuming so make sure you build it into the timeline of your approval process. Automation can be helpful here; finding a system or software to manage documents digitally can make it easier for everyone involved in the approval process. Having digital versions of documents also makes them easier to access and reduces the chances of losing any information.

At the same time, however, it's important to consider whether digitization will add unnecessary complexity and cost. Although automation may reduce manual labor, it does require setup and maintenance costs, training for staff members, potential security risks, etc. Striking a good balance between manual processes and automation is essential for creating an effective approach when gathering necessary documents and forms for an approval process.

Now that we have discussed what documents and forms may be necessary when streamlining an approval process, let's move on to discuss creating an effective approval process in our next section.

Essential Points to Remember

Gather the necessary documents and forms for an approval process to ensure its success. These may include contracts, agreements, surveys, and waivers. In certain cases, a notarized signature or license agreement may be required to verify identity or authorize a transaction. Automation can help make document processing easier but also comes with setup and maintenance costs as well as potential security risks. A balance between manual processes and automation is essential when gathering documents and forms for an approval process.

Creating an Approval Process

Creating an Approval Process.

When setting up an approval process, it is important to ensure that all departments and job roles involved have a clear understanding of the process. This includes specifying who has the power to approve and reject requests, defining the criteria for approval, as well as devising a workflow for how requests are processed.

Weighing the pros and cons is essential when considering the implementation of an approval process. On one hand, having an approval process can create barriers to efficiency due to its complexity and bureaucracy. However, on the other hand, such a system can be beneficial for companies looking to achieve higher levels of accuracy and quality assurance by ensuring compliance with regulations and standards. Furthermore, this kind of approach helps eliminate any potential confusion around decision-making and can serve as a useful record keeping tool should errors occur down the line.

With this in mind, it is important to carefully consider and define a set of requirements regarding what is needed in terms of approvals before creating an approval process. Once this is established, effective and efficient guidelines can be established to help streamline approvals across different departments. The next section will discuss how to establish requirements and guidelines for your organization's approval process.

Establish Requirements and Guidelines

Before laying out a framework for streamlining the approval process, it is essential to take stock of existing requirements and guidelines. Companies should use this opportunity to review their procedure for developing them, because standardized mandates make the process simpler. Organizations should also examine how these requirements can be met without compromising safety standards or violating government regulations.

Debate: It is highly important to establish requirements and guidelines before designing a streamlined approval process. However, some disagree that conducting reviews of existing documents every so often is necessary as well. Doing so could involve going through each requirement in depth and making sure that they are still relevant and effective. Moreover, if organizations have an inflation-based policy or an expiration date on their requriements and guidelines, they will have to regularly update them to ensure compliance with current legislation at all times.

In conclusion, setting up requirements and guidelines should be one of the first steps businesses take when forming a new approval process. Furthermore, review periods should be added to the timeline every few months or years because laws may change or fall out of date, while policies may require additional stipulations in order to maintain legal validity. Moving forward with the next section, we will discuss government regulations that affect the approval process.

Government Regulations That Affect the Approval Process

Government regulations that affect the approval process can be a daunting task to understand and incorporate into an efficient process. Depending on the specific industry, there are various laws and regulations that companies must abide by in order to comply with the government’s standards. For example, if a company is in the healthcare industry, they will be required to comply with HIPAA and other patient privacy regulations.

Companies should consider both sides of having government regulations in place for their approval process. On one hand, rules encourage organizations to act ethically, operate safely, adhere to labor laws, and protect consumers from harmful business practices. On the other hand, some may argue that overly-complicated rules create difficulties for smaller businesses when they must comply, while larger companies have more resources available to assist them.

Whatever side of this argument one chooses to take, it is important for organizations to have clarity on applicable laws and regulations and develop sound processes that follow their guidelines. Having a clear understanding of applicable legal requirements helps ensure compliance while streamlining the approval process.

Taking into consideration government regulations can help organizations achieve efficiency in their approval process while also ensuring compliance with applicable laws. The next step is understanding the importance of the review process prior to finalizing any decisions.

The Importance of the Review Process

The review process is an essential part of any approval process. It provides a thorough examination and evaluation of the outcomes of the proposed change or decision, ultimately leading to a confident result. In order to properly review and complete the best decisions, it's important to know the goals of the evaluation process. This process should include a comprehensive assessment of the problem at hand, an analysis of available options, a critical review of those options, and final recommendation based on solid reasoning.

There are various views when it comes to the purpose and necessity of reviews in the approval process. Some argue that reviews slow down processes and prevent quick changes from being implemented with immediacy. Others view them as necessary for ensuring that decisions are well thought-out and justified to provide accuracy and clarity for all stakeholders throughout the entire project or initiative. Ultimately, reviews help ensure that significant amount of consideration has been taken into account before any major changes are implemented.

Reviews can also be used to increase participation among team members through feedback and dialogue which can help shape better solutions for any project. The collaborative aspect helps foster an innovative and empowering environment for employees, as they’re allowed to voice their opinions in order to reach better outcomes.

In conclusion, reviews are an important factor in any effective approval process due to its inherent ability to ensure decisions are supported by solid reasoning, backed by reliable data, while simultaneously engaging stakeholders throughout the entire process. Next we will explain how businesses can streamline their review process with measurable steps towards success.


Streamlining the approval process can be a daunting task, but with the right strategies in place it can help save valuable time and resources. From streamlining communication to reducing redundant tasks, making the most out of automation and focusing on compliance, there are several steps that small businesses can take to make their approval processes more efficient.

When properly implemented, automating workflows and approvals through software applications can allow for faster decision-making, improved productivity, and better visibility into ongoing projects. For example, dynamic routing technology like drag-and-drop tools and even artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms can help speed up and streamline the entire approval process.

On the other hand, there is also the potential risk of removing valuable oversight from the equation if too much reliance is placed on automated systems and processes. For example, when human review or intervention is removed from the equation decisions may be made quicker – but they could also be less informed if no one is double-checking accuracy or making sure legal requirements have been met.

Overall, streamlining an approval process doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. By implementing the five steps discussed above – streamlining communication, reducing redundancy, using automation intelligently, rethinking document management, and focusing on compliance – small business owners can slowly increase efficiencies within their operational process without sacrificing any of the oversight necessary to ensure that all critical decisions are made correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions and Explanations

How long does the approval process typically take?

The length of the approval process will depend on a variety of factors, including how complex the task is, how much resources are available, and the number of stakeholders involved. Generally speaking, however, streamlining your approval process can help you save time and resources. By following the five steps outlined in this book, you can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to gain approval. This includes optimizing communication between stakeholders, introducing automated tracking systems, and defining clear expectations for each step of the process. With these changes in place, many organizations have seen their approval process times cut by as much as 50 percent.

What steps are involved in the approval process?

1. Identify and Define the Need: Before any approval process gets underway, it is important to define the need and make sure all stakeholders understand why the process is necessary.

2. Gather Requirements: Once the need has been identified and defined, it is then important to gather requirements such as job descriptions, budget allocations, legal clearances, etc., for each step in the process.

3. Analyze Resources: After gathering all of the necessary requirements, you must analyze the resources that are needed to complete each step in the process. This includes determining which personnel are needed, the time required for each step, the cost associated with each step, etc.

4. Develop a Timeline: The next step is to develop a timeline for when each step should be completed by. This should include deadlines for each stakeholder or team involved in order to get approvals in a timely fashion.

5. Document Everything: Finally, document everything so that all stakeholders have access to records of when approvals were given and what was approved at each stage of the process. Doing this will help streamline future processes and ensure consistency throughout all future projects related to this need.

What are the common mistakes to avoid in the approval process?

Common mistakes to avoid in the approval process include:

1. Not planning ahead – Approval processes can be complicated, so plan for potential roadblocks and delays before beginning a project. This can help streamline the entire process.

2. Ignoring stakeholders’ input – It’s important to stay connected with those involved in the project throughout the process. Proper communication and collaboration are essential for ensuring timely and effective approvals.

3. Overlooking details – Take time to review all details of a project carefully before submitting it for approval so that any issues can be addressed promptly.

4. Not allowing enough time – Make sure to provide ample time for multiple layers of review and feedback during the process, since rushed deadlines can cause problems down the line in terms of accuracy and quality assurance.

5. Underestimating complexity – Approval processes can involve complex criteria and protocols, so don’t underestimate their complexity or how long they may take to complete. Allow extra time for this as well as additional iterations in order to ensure all aspects are fully explored.

What documents and information are required for the approval process?

The documents and information required for the approval process will depend on what you are trying to get approved. Generally speaking, most paperwork associated with the approval process includes basic contact and financial information, as well as proof of sufficient need or justification for what is being requested. For example, if you are attempting to obtain a loan, you will likely be required to have detailed financial statements and a credit report in order to secure approval. The same is true if you are seeking a permit or license—you must provide documentation that proves that you meet all the necessary qualifications. In addition, other documents may be required depending on the specific application, situation, and requirements.

What are the key factors that affect the success of the approval process?

The key factors that affect the success of an approval process are communication, organization, prioritization, documentation, and flexibility.

Communication is essential for any approval process to be successful. This includes both internal communication amongst stakeholders and external communication with vendors, contractors, and customers. Having open and consistent communication allows for clear expectations to be established and any issues to be addressed quickly.

Organization of information is key to streamlining the approval process. This includes having up-to-date folders on shared drives or cloud storage systems and keeping track of each step in the approval process. This will ensure everyone has access to all relevant information necessary to move the approval process along.

Prioritization is also necessary for a successful approval process. It’s important to prioritize tasks in order of importance or priority level so that the most important requests can be handled first. Having a set plan of action will also help keep things organized and increase productivity.

Documentation is an important factor as well when it comes to streamlining the approval process. All actions taken by stakeholders--including acceptance, rejection, and modification of requests--should be tracked, recorded, and easily accessible for all parties involved in the approval process.

Finally, flexibility plays a role in making sure any approval processes runs smoothly. Being able to adjust your plans according to changing circumstances is key in order to accommodate unanticipated changes or challenges in the process. Flexibility also helps by allowing for more creative approaches that may yield faster results.

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