Approval Processes: Part 1 – What Are They and Why Are They Important?

8 mins read

This article explains what an approval process is and gives 3 reasons why they are important for a business.

Many owners and managers have experienced that irritating moment when they see a piece of content, a document, or material in circulation without having been properly approved for use. On the other side of this, many have also experienced the frustration of not knowing who needs to approve certain materials for use or needing content which is held up in waiting for approval to meet a deadline. Many of these issues come down to the workflow process of approving documents and materials. Rather than indulging in these frustrations or pointing fingers to blame, we recommend taking a good look at the approval process that exists (or needs to exist) within your organization. In this article we introduce what approval processes are and provide 3 reasons why they are important for a business.

Approval Process

An approval process is a type of workflow that involves a series of steps to follow for any work (documents, materials, content, etc.) to be approved for use within a business. The person that is performing the work task must pass through each step of the approval process before their work will be considered approved for use. The steps typically involve different departments and employees that must review the material to approve it, reject it, or provide feedback for improvements/edits. When a decision is made in one step, the material being reviewed will either go back to a previous step or move forward to the next step in the process. Until the material makes it through to the final step in the workflow process and is approved, it should not be used in client-facing situations or internally.

3 Reasons Why Approval Processes Are Important:

1. Accountability

Being accountable is defined as being willing to accept responsibility for our own actions and behaviours. When there is an approval process in place, this allows each person involved in the process to take accountability for their role in the process. Part of being accountable is being aware of what we are responsible for. Many frustrations around document approval come from a lack of knowledge, whether that be not knowing what is happening with the document, or not knowing who to go to or seek clarification from.

With a clear process outlined, employees and managers will understand what they need to accomplish in each step and will also know who to go to if they have any questions or need to check on the status of materials that are being reviewed for approval. As there are usually many people involved in an approval process, it is important that individual roles are clearly outlined for everyone to see and understand. Having clearly set expectations will encourage everyone in the process to be willing to accept their accountability in the approval process.

2. Consistency

Consistency is very important within a business. It creates trust with the clients and employees, improves efficiency and productivity, and also provides certainty and reassurance. Consistency can be reflected in most areas of a business including their values, mission, promise, goals, branding, and work output. Having an approval process in place will increase the consistency of the work being created, as reviewing will occur throughout the process, and there will be a final approver who sees all of the material going through the process.

With each person having defined responsibilities and permissions within each step of the approval process, this means they will be following the standards of the business, which then encourages them to ensure that the material they are reviewing is consistent and meets the business standards. One step in the approval process could be reviewing the relativity and context of the material, while the next could be reviewing the quality, another step could be reviewing the layout and flow of the material for value, and the last step before final approval could be reviewing the branding. Having a final approver to see all the material, or one approved set per department depending on the size of the business, allows for optimal consistency among all of the business material being used within the company and for client or public use.

3. Efficiency

Another great benefit of having an approval process in place is it allows us to get it right the first time. Now, having a document approved doesn’t mean it’s set in stone, as there may be changes that arise or new things that come to light which require an update to improve the document. Going through the steps in an approval process will nonetheless create the best document for the current situation and current requirements. It is important for everyone involved in the process to keep in mind that they have the same main objective, which is making the material the best and most valuable it can be for the company.

An approval process also creates efficiency in the approval workflow itself, as each step is clearly defined and has a person assigned to it. This will create efficiency in communication as the document creator will know who to speak with to see where the document is at within the process and can also communicate any deadlines that must be met, allowing the reviewers to prioritize their work. There will also be no wasted time in communication. In the end, having an efficient process will increase productivity – and who doesn’t like increasing productivity within a business?!

Approving an Approval Process

There are many benefits for a business to have a proper approval process in place. Employees would be accountable for their responsibilities within the creation and reviewing process, the material created would be consistent throughout the company, and both efficiency and productivity would increase when following the process. The way we see it, there really isn’t a solid reason not to have an approval process in place for a business. Now that some of the benefits that can be experienced from having an approval process in place have been highlighted, it may be a great idea to consider approving your own approval process!

Check out Part 2 in this series, which explains steps involved in approval processes.

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