3 Major Roadblocks to Automating Your Approval Process and How to Navigate Them

Last Updated: March 4, 2022

Approval processes are a staple in every organization. From invoices to purchase orders to expense reports, companies deal with document-heavy approval processes every day.  Companies are leaning more and more towards automating these processes since any costs involved in adopting a better, optimal approval system is outweighed by the chance of errors and inefficiency involved in manual processes.  

But the decision to switch to approval automation is only the first step. Switching to automation can be challenging and friction-filled due to factors such as user adoption, business complexity, and configurability. Here are some roadblocks that you may face when you automate your approval processes and how to navigate them. 

1. Inertia of Existing Methods

Although automation eliminates manual effort and saves time in the long run, getting your teams to adopt and actively deploy automation tools might be a challenge for you. Having worked with existing methods of approval such as ad-hoc email notifications or phone calls, your teams will be set in their ways of doing things. You will have to work your way through the resistance of the traditional modes of working. 

Adopting an intuitive automation tool and encouraging agent training can be instrumental in navigating issues related to user adoption. Your teams are more likely to start using the tool faster if it offers a seamless user experience. With frequent training exercises, encourage them to play around with the tool, configure simple scenarios such as document approvals, and generate reports for the sign-off tasks they do every day. Instead of adopting automation as a whole new complex system, they can start with tasks like monitoring pending approval status, automating routing of new items based on approval level, collecting signatures on excel or word documents, and study audit trails. Basically, the key is to start with basic tasks and use them as the building blocks for expansion.

2. Complexity of Existing Business Rules

Decision-making is not sealed with a yes or no. It is often a complex activity that may be influenced by multiple parameters like the number of approvers, business context, levels of approvals, business rules, and much more. Modeling all or a combination of this logic into a rule-based check box may require more time and understanding than you think.

Many companies are finding it difficult to leverage the potential of automation beyond simple, repetitive everyday tasks, which will anyway leave your teams with no option but to do complex and unique use cases themselves. This defeats the purpose of automation, because, simple or complex, automation is supposed to deal with tasks that need no human expertise whatsoever so that your employees can focus their time on creating and value-adding tasks. Do your research before adopting an automation tool for your business, and discuss with team admins who can bring valuable insights from a functional perspective. HappyFox Workflows offers an all-inclusive demo where you can check the compatibility of your business processes with the automation platform.  

3. Configurability and Platform Issues

Most automation tools available today require a higher learning curve to assimilate your business processes and automate them. With multiple scenarios and stakeholders involved, it may be hard for you to translate your organizational decision-making process onto the platform. You need to find a flexible tool that can be tailored to your business scenarios. 

Understand your business, and most importantly, check the general efficiency of your processes so that when you automate them you get the most value out of your efforts. Even if you implement smart rules and templates, any flaws and inefficiencies in individual processes only tend to get multiplied through the course of automation. Any long-term business growth has analytics at its core, so track your automation gains with Business Intelligence and Reports to eliminate bottlenecks and streamline the approval tasks.

Nevertheless, automation is a one-time configuration that only needs upgrading and reassessment when you make organization-wide process changes. The benefits of approval automation will not only make the initial challenges worthwhile but also make your processes more efficient in general. 

Solutions and Takeaways

Flexibility & Configurability: With time the decision-making process is bound to change. HappyFox Workflows’ Approval Management capabilities ensure that you are able to model your process seamlessly onto the platform. Whether it is single level approvals or multi-level approval requests, the sequence of steps along with the parameters affecting the process can be configured and updated continuously. 

Unifying your 3 Ps – People, Process, and Platform: Any approval workflow process involves a set of stakeholders (people), business rules and a sequence of steps (process), and data reflected in one or more systems (Platform). With in-built integrations, HappyFox Workflows effortlessly ties together all the elements and ensures organizational effectiveness. 

From employee onboarding to invoicing approvals to lead management, approval automation can transform the way you operate. Sign up for a HappyFox Workflows demo to learn how to use automation as a means to eliminate time-consuming repetitive actions out of your way and improve productivity.