How to create a document approval workflow

A document approval workflow is essential for daily business. After all, someone has to approve bill payments, supply orders, and invoices, and do so often. A document approval workflow establishes how you move documents to the people who need to approve or reject them and lays out the order for those approvals.

Other documents — such as quarterly reports, mandatory financials, press releases, and so forth — will require a more detailed review process as well as scrupulous tracking of sign-offs on the final document. Clearly laying out your document approval process can help you keep such documents moving through the review process and on track to meet the submission deadline.

The document approval process at a glance


Today’s document management systems make it easier to track business documents, but the fundamental purpose is the same as it was when organizations filed or mailed documents in the pre-digital world.

It’s critical to track time sheets, sales reports, customer contracts, weekly reports, and the like. Businesses need to update those documents quickly as they pass through the approval process and make sure the documents are easy to locate and access.

A document approval workflow enables administrators to track where a document is in the review and approval process. In other words, it functions as an oversight system to keep a business moving. It’s the same process organizations follow when collecting external documents, such as job applications with resumes and cover letters, medical information, and confidential legal documents.

Why every business needs a document approval process

The typical business has a lot of decision-makers, no matter if the company has a flat or hierarchical structure. And there’s a whole range of documents, both internal and external, that those decision-makers have to review.

One of the easiest ways to improve efficiency is by simplifying routine processes, such as processing purchase orders. Of course, the challenge is that no single process works for every  purchase an organization makes.

If the IT department needs new equipment, that purchase order will require more review than an order for general office supplies. So it’s important to set up a workflow that makes sense for different situations.

A lot of organizations track approvals through email, but this approach has serious drawbacks. The email threads often get lengthy, which makes it difficult for decision-makers to sift through them and make sure everyone has signed off on a document. That’s why it’s helpful to automate your document approval workflow — it saves time and ensures you don’t miss a critical step in the process.

How to automate your document approval workflow with JotForm

There are endless advantages to automating a document approval workflow, but it fundamentally comes down to capturing and managing the data.

Automating your document approval workflow is easier if the process is digital from the beginning. By using JotForm’s document upload templates, you can collect documents from patients, customers, job applicants, and more. All the documents are saved in a central location that’s easy to access.

In addition, JotForm offers a wide range of form templates that can help expedite the review and approval of routine business tasks — like expense reimbursements. The employee reimbursement template has built-in calculators to help your team quickly and easily calculate and itemize expenses.

You can use JotForm Tables to organize and manage data collected through your forms, and share it with one click to collaborate seamlessly with teammates, associates, or partners. JotForm has hundreds of table templates for various business uses and types of organizations, and you can customize them to suit your needs.

This article is originally published on Apr 06, 2021, and updated on Apr 08, 2021.
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