“Time is money.” You’ve heard it before, but when you see it in action within your business, the phrase hits home. Every business relies on sets of processes to operate smoothly. Any time a process is delayed, it could result in high costs. So, the implementation of workflow approval software can save your business, employees and customers a lot of time, which, as you know, results in a more definite bottom line.
Since workflow approval software is so successful at saving businesses time and achieving results, the market is indeed saturated. To best assess the type of software that will benefit your business, we will dive into everything you need to know about workflow approval software and evaluate some options.
What is the Approval Process?
An approval process is a method by which information flows through an organisation and requires approvals to move to the next subsequent step. It requires input from various levels within an organisation, and as such, approval processes must be designed for efficiency. Approval processes are vital in everyday processes that deal with invoices, budgets, purchase orders and even the creation of new processes.
No matter the process, multiple people will be involved and required to take action. As such, approval processes entail: submission documents, approvers, permission levels, timeframes and logs. Because an approval process relies on data, information and workflow, approval software can significantly help to carry out such processes.
What is Approval Workflow Software?
Approval workflow software is an automation tool that allows businesses to design, automate and execute approval processes. Rather than relying on individuals to manually approve documents or share information, the software manages the workflow. It can even be customised to provide updates and notifications or reports and analytics on how operations are running.
Workflow software incorporates all aspects of the process from submission to approval and supports:
Discrete and definable steps
Templates and customisation
Ability to collect signatures
Notification settings and options
Examples: Workflow Approvals in Action
All departments and managers within an organisation can benefit from workflow approval software. That’s because approval processes take place in each department. Here’s a look at some examples of approval processes categorised by work function:
Creative project feedback and approvals
Inbound proposal requests
Feedback from sales teams
Accounts receivables and payable
Data analytics requests
Customer handover to IT
Contracts and sales
Benefits of Approval Workflow Software
Approval processes are intended to work for a company not against it. Having approval workflow software opens the door to many benefits, including:
Minimised bottlenecks and critical person dependencies as information resides in a centralised and accessible system
Going Further with Data Automation
By combining approval workflow software with data automation capabilities, you can support optimal performance organisation-wide. Data automation uses automatic processes to update source data for collection, processing and storage. When you have processes that rely on data, the information must stay up-to-date and accurate to receive approvals when needed.
If you choose a data automation tool like SolveXia, you can reap the benefits of data automation and a single system in which all information can be collected, transferred, used and stored for your needs. It has the added benefit of connecting all your data in one place, while at the same time, you can design processes and real-time analytics, and run them with the click of a button. It also has audit trails and gated areas to keep team members deviating from the process to improve compliance. Thanks to robotic process automation, repetitive tasks can be managed by computer systems rather than relying on the human intervention that is tedious and error-prone.
Features to Look for When Choosing Software
Now, it’s time to get to business! How do you choose the right workflow approval software? Here’s a list of important considerations that the best tools should possess:
Visual designers: approval processes may be simple or complex. Having the option to drag-and-drop the steps into a visual designer can help make the process easy for everyone on the team and alleviates the need for an IT team and coding.
Security: Since the software will be handling sensitive data, you’ll need to make sure it’s equipped to protect and store the data according to industry regulations.
Easy integration: Your software doesn’t exist in isolation. Instead, it should be able to work with all the tools your team currently uses so that you can maximise its performance.
Cloud-based: With cloud-based software, you can leverage open APIs and accessibility from any device at any time.
Tracking: Stakeholders will often want to know where a process currently stands. Real-time tracking can give those who need it access to insights and the process’ status.
Automation: Once a form or data is submitted, the software should be able to automatically push it to the next step, which may be review or requests for more information from another source.
Collaborative environment: With a system to track and run processes, you can set up users who are both internal or external stakeholders. This creates a collaborative environment in which people can access the portal at any time and check in on what’s happening.
Form creation: Many approval processes begin with a form to collect and then share information. Some software systems come with form builders that are easy to design and customise so that you can ensure you obtain the data you need.
Features Beyond Approval Workflows
There is software that goes above and beyond to provide even more benefits. By going beyond just efficiency, these added features can be game-changers.
Approval Audit Trails: Audit trails are particularly important in highly regulated industries, like the financial industry, for example. Audit trails can provide a record for the entire history of approval, including who submits requests, what was requested, submission dates, permissions and responsible parties, communication and more. Automation tools like SolveXia offer an excellent solution for this.
Delegate Approvals: To prevent bottlenecks and critical person dependencies, you may be able to delegate approvers other than the primary responsible party. That way, if an important decision-maker is sick or on vacation, approvals will automatically move to the next in line person for review.
Continuous Improvement: With reporting tools, administrators can review a process’ efficiency. If there are gaps or holes in how a process is running, you can redesign a process and test it within the secure environment before rolling it out to enact continuous process improvement.
Best Software for Workflow Approval
We made it to the best software for workflow approval section. Here, we will look at some pros and cons of some of the most popular software solutions in the market.
SolveXia: SolveXia is a rational, analytical automation software solution that provides teams with forecasting models and automation capabilities. Some of its main features include: collecting data from various sources and transforming it into highly valuable information, business reporting, risk metric analysis, building business processes and offering trend analysis. SolveXia is cloud-based, has bank-grade security and can maximise productivity ten-fold.
Monday: Monday.com is a workflow/project management tool that allows teams to create boards and visually review tasks horizontally. It tracks the progress of a process from start to finish and uses colour coding to understand the status quickly. Many have likened it to a highly customisable Excel spreadsheet that can organise multiple projects at the same time. It also provides templates to work with so beginners can easily design processes. However, one of the downsides is that the update and notification system is highly manual and requires duplication of “pulses” or tasks to leave notes. Furthermore, the mobile view isn’t known to be very user-friendly.
Kissflow: Kissflow is used by many major corporations and small businesses alike across over 120 countries. As a business process management (BPM) tool, Kissflow offers: workflows, out-of-the-box set-up, advanced reporting, multiple language support, progress tracking, prebuilt reports, integration via Zapier and an app for both Android and iPhone. It’s hard to say anything negative about a product so well-made, but some users report that metrics could be better presented.
Wrike: Wrike is a robust project management tool with the option for customisation. Some of its top features include reporting features, Gantt charts, documentation management, tacking approvals, version control, task assignment and various views to work across teams. Wrike also integrates with many other tools like Office 365 and GDrive. However, some negative aspects are that you cannot choose a time frame for analytics, the set-up is relatively complicated, and depending on the level of your plan, it could be considered to be a costly option.
Integrify: Integrify is a workflow management software that doesn’t require coding to set up. Some of Integrify’s standout features include process builder, a form designer, reporting and KPIs, and API for integration. While the support team has been touted to be very helpful, some negative feedback about the software includes that it is complex to understand and lacks flexibility for information intake. Some users also hope for a more clean and user-friendly dashboard.
Flokzu: Flokzu is a cloud-based BPM that boasts a low-code solution for teams. Customers of Flokzu enjoy the fact that it’s so easy and fast to implement and get running. The per-user price makes it affordable, but some downsides have been that once a process has become complex with many branches, it’s hard to design the model. Additionally, users have found that when they try to “go back,” the system returns them to the home screen instead of their last screen.
TrackVia: TrackVia allows users to design workflows using drag-and-drop capabilities or add code for customisation. The starting price is $2,5000/month, which may be steep for small or medium-sized businesses. The software grants: mobile access, task management, access controls, calendar management, a customisable dashboard, integrations, compliance tracking and more. Although it can be an out-of-box solution, users have reported that it is complex and may require extra IT support to set up to be tailor-made.
Asana: Asana is a web-based project management tool that allows for easy tracking and collaboration between team members. Some of its features include task management, scheduling, workflow automation, document management, email integration and mobile access. On the other hands, some of its cons have been noted to include: the requirement to download an app for mobile usage, slow technical support, and less than an optimal security system.
Knack: Knack is an affordable and user-friendly tool that serves as a database maker. It works with existing software and boasts centralised workflows, notifications, and CSV data migration. While it has received a high rating for its value for money, there has been some negative feedback regarding customer support.
Zapier: Zapier connects web apps through “Zaps” to create workflows. You can set up and automate Zaps however you see fit. The most notable benefit of Zapier is that it can connect tons of apps to sync, which transforms it into a potent tool. Users find it easy to implement and edit if Zaps end up not working well. However, some downsides are that Zaps cannot be duplicated, the free version is limited, and it requires internal communication for team members to know that Zaps have been created.
Your Business Will Thank You
Once you select the workflow approval software that feels like the right fit for your business, internal and external stakeholders will surely thank you as everyone benefits. Automation and workflow software such as SolveXia can save your employees and customers time, which in the end, results in more money (and fewer problems)!