This article explains what steps are typically involved in the Approval Process and introduces Flowcharts.
In the previous part of this series, we briefly touched on what an approval process (workflow) is and the three major benefits to having a well-developed process implemented. In this part of the series, we are going to discuss what steps are typically involved in an approval workflow.
To recap, a workflow is an end-to-end internal control process that ensures the appropriate steps are followed to reduce the risk of assigned duties being missed, to hold individuals accountable for their role in the process, and to get the appropriate approvals. To ensure a workflow is adhered to and remains consistent, we recommend rolling it out to the employees and/or external stakeholders (customers, clients, vendors, suppliers, etc.) so they are aware of what to expect.
Depending on the type of workflow that you are planning to implement, your process will vary. This is why we recommend putting careful consideration into development and what steps are involved, so nothing is missed. No matter how comprehensive a workflow can get, the basic structure generally follows the same steps:
- Development, Information Gathering, Completing Forms
- Submitting for Review
- Review Submission
- Progress or Editing/Revision Tracking
When you have a workflow in place, it is important that you provide sufficient details to what is all included in each step of the process to reduce confusion. In addition to any written workflow, it would be best practice to accompany it with a Flowchart.
A flowchart is a great way to visualize the steps of the process in a sequential but high-level manner, so whoever is looking at the flowchart can easily interpret the process without needing to dig deep into the details if they choose. The most common flowcharts used are:
Basic: is a simple diagram of a step-by-step execution of the workflow (Fig. A)
Cross Functional: displays the step-by-step execution of the workflow but also which position/department are responsible for certain steps of the process (Fig. B)
Attached to this article, you will find two examples of workflows. Please keep in mind that depending on your business structure, these workflows may consist of more steps or people involved. It is worth mentioning that many of your company policies/guidelines or the downloadable templates we provide are also examples of a workflow, so if you ever feel that this might be a challenging task, keep in mind that you have already participated in this exercise before – the only difference is that you are developing a document at a more high-level view.
- Content Procedure Manual is a process of which everyone at the company is required to follow to have company-related documents approved.
- Customer Feedback is a process of which customers take to provide company feedback (Fig. C)
This concludes our series on Approval Processes. Now that you understand what approval processes are, the importance of them, and how easy it is to create a workflow for your business, it is time for you to put what you learnt into practice. Some helpful software to assist you with creating the Flowcharts are:
Always remember that a BIG Representative is always available to provide you the support you require!