Wouldn’t it be great if achieving business goals was as quick and easy as setting them? Yet achieving more complex business goals often involves various stakeholders and business processes. Streamlined processes help to smooth out organisational flow and can help a business save time. And when essential processes are streamlined, like getting approval for invoices, the benefits often include greater efficiency and productivity.
What is a workflow?
A workflow is a visual representation of a sequence of steps that results in a particular outcome. It also includes details on the resources needed to accomplish the final result and how all the elements work together.
Since performing a task in business can be a quick, simple process, or may involve numerous moving parts and stakeholders, there are various types of workflows. Businesses often use workflows as a quality control measure. For instance, pharmaceutical companies utilise them to ensure the quality of their raw materials. In HR, workflows can help streamline the hiring process or manage the employee leave cycle. Workflows are also crucial for organising and keeping track of how product issues are resolved, like an IT ticketing system.
To maintain the quality of crucial processes, many managers employ a particular kind of workflow – an approval process workflow.
What is an approval process workflow?
An approval process workflow helps decision-makers review and adjust the quality of fundamental processes. They can check whether every step of a process is optimised.
Processes that require approval often involve various departments, functions and tasks like invoicing or document- and design approvals. And maintaining a standard of quality for these components is a non-negotiable for business stability and growth.
Creating an approval process workflow means defining the necessary steps for getting something approved. And, though it can be set up as a manual process, it’s far more beneficial for businesses to automate workflows.
Vizlib Collaboration Approval Workflow
Why shift from manual systems to automated workflows?
With a manual system, there can often be confusion about who needs to do what and by when. And this can be a big time-waster for the business. Manual approval process workflows, for instance, are often more unreliable as employee accountability can vary. The resulting uncertainty or lack of clarity can slow down the approval cycle and the business’ output.
Automating repetitive processes in a business can save time and resources. And this practice also transfers well to approval process workflows, for example. Companies that use software to automate these workflows improve process standardisation, efficiency and transparency, and align more closely to compliance and regulatory requirements.
The benefits of a process workflow
An automated process workflow can add value to your organisation by:
- Saving money: Better resource management and less time wasted.
- Saving time: Digitised workflows reduce confusion and uncertainty.
- Optimising process change: Creating workflows requires an in-depth look at how the business currently does things and can lead to greater optimisation and innovation.
- Reducing risk: Managing project schedules more efficiently reduces the risk of missing vital deadlines, like a new product launch.
- Providing additional insight: Decision-makers can review workflows at any point to improve efficiency or effect changes as business needs shift.
And for an approval process workflow, the benefits filter down to the users too.
- It provides a self-service model for employees to submit and track their submissions easily.
- Reviewers can easily review and approve processes on one portal.
- Managers can quickly check on the progress of approval processes on a departmental level.
- Administrators can manage or adjust each step of a process approval or whole processes as business needs change.
What are the components of a process workflow?
Any workflow contains a few core components, including:
- Input: Everything required to complete a step of the workflow.
- Transformation: The rules that control what happens to the input.
- Output: The product of each step, which then feeds into the following step in the workflow.
An example of a typical workflow
If we look at an approval process workflow, in particular, it also follows a cycle. And the standard components will likely include:
- Submission: Any process begins with an employee submitting something to be approved, like an invoice or a blog for review. Ideally, their submission should be logged somewhere, like a submission portal.
- Allocating approver: The next step in the approval process is assigning someone to approve the submitted work. For multiple approval levels, ensure you allocate an approver for each level.
- Setting permission levels: Designate which permission levels each approver has such as permission to edit, approve or reject submissions.
- Establish due dates: Set due dates to keep the process flowing and prevent any backlog.
- Automatic notifications: Keep everyone up to date with the approval progress automatically to save time. The approval process workflow software could notify the submitter when items are approved, require updating or a general status update.
- Log: The software should ideally keep a record of all the actions in the approval process. This will help ensure consistency and transparency for all stakeholders.
Vizlib Workflows feature
What are typical uses cases for process workflows?
Different projects have different stakeholders and require varying degrees of input to reach completion. With the addition of process workflows, productivity increases and the business’ goals become more accessible. A few common use case examples include:
- Healthcare workflows: In the healthcare industry, they often utilise workflows to manage the distribution of medication from a physician’s script to the patient pick up.
- Customer service workflows: Workflows are a great way to track and manage customer complaints.
- Management approval process workflows: This workflow is internal and requires managers to sign off on work done. An approval process workflow can ensure transparency in the process. Plus, with greater automation of repetitive tasks, it should free up the managers’ time for more high-level tasks.
- Invoice approval process workflows: By automating the process of receiving and paying invoices, a company’s standard paying window can be adhered to, and it becomes easier to keep track of invoice numbers.
Tips to get your approval process workflow off the ground
- Begin by reviewing your current workflow and note all the stages your project undergoes.
- Then, dive in deeper by asking questions such as:
- How do employees submit work and how will approvers request changes?
- How many steps does the process need?
- Who will approve each step?
- What happens after a rejection or approval?
Vizlib Workflows feature
Driving productivity with Vizlib workflows
It’s important for decision-makers to keep track of the progress of business processes. With the new Workflows feature in Vizlib Collaboration, a value-added product for Qlik Sense, you now have greater control.
Vizlib Collaboration Workflows feature
You can define business process paths, such as tracking tasks or processes from start to completion or tracking an approval process from submitted to approved. The new feature also enables users to create a new Workflow for every Collaboration Stream and define the steps in the Workflow by adding or removing States for greater process efficiency.
Workflows help to streamline key business processes and improve the agility of your business. Download the latest version of Vizlib Collaboration and tap into improved productivity with Workflows today!