Picture this: One of the most high-profile customers for your small business needs an updated report interface to track a metric that’s central to their business success. Your account representative scopes out the request in a document to her VP, who in turn sends a priority note to your organization’s product lead.
But the product lead is on vacation, and he didn’t designate an alternate, so the request languishes for two weeks.
Two weeks later, your customer is angry and wondering out loud if it makes sense to continue working with your company when there are so many alternatives.
Unfortunately, even in today’s highly digital, app-driven, and networked world, these kinds of scenarios aren’t uncommon.
The way most small businesses ensure this never happens is by implementing cloud-based workflow automation software: a process in which requests, tasks, and information pass from one stakeholder to another to make certain that work gets assigned, approved, and completed.
The growth of automated workflows has gained steam over the past few years and is poised to continue. As an example, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are expected to adopt workflow automation on a large scale.
Constraints in workflow automation
Whether you’re evaluating a new automated workflow solution, or you’ve had a process in place for some time, there are a couple of constraints that can prevent you from maximizing your team’s efficiency.
Workflow solutions can be
- Siloed. Many workflow solutions do a great job. But those solutions are often tied to limited data-collection tools and/or cut off from the management and organizational tools you need to manage your workflow from beginning to end.
- Lacking in helpful templates. The staff who create these workflows are often new to workflow automation. For that reason, it’s important to offer users as much guidance as possible.
Most SMBs work on a tight budget. As a result, the workflow solutions you employ need to be both easy to use and high on feature flexibility, offering relevant prompts and helpful tips along the way so that creating the workflow doesn’t prevent you from focusing on more important tasks.
How Jotform Approvals addresses today’s workflow needs
Jotform Approvals enables users to create attractive, flexible, and simple form-centered approval workflows. By creating a seamless workflow as a natural extension of your feature-rich data-collection efforts, Jotform Approvals makes it easy for your organization to process requests and tasks with next to no assistance needed.
The simple drag-and-drop interface allows you to go easily from form to flows, while effectively managing your data in one place.
Jotform Approvals offers benefits unique to our data-collection platform:
- Holistic platform. Our best-in-class form builder, combined with an approval workflow builder and the data management tool, Jotform Tables, makes it easier than ever to get work done.
- Rich template library. With more than 100 workflow templates, Jotform Approvals will kick-start your approval efforts.
- Mobility. Your approvers can use Jotform’s mobile app to approve requests in real time, while working from home or on the go.
How Jotform Group Approvals makes team approvals even easier
A lot of work today involves collaboration. For teams, Jotform Group Approvals simplifies the approval process even more.
With Group Approvals, you can send out approval requests in one go instead of making a tangled, complicated web of conditions. You can also specify what will end the flow. Whether you want one person in your team or the majority opinion to decide, Group Approvals automates the process so you can work more efficiently.
For example, let’s say you work in a committee of 10 that reviews grant proposals. Once you get a submission, you can set your completion rule to “Require response from majority,” and your workflow will go on once six colleagues have viewed the submission and responded.
You can also use Jotform Inbox and Jotform Tables to check what each team member did and take over for a colleague in the case they can’t get to the request.
Just so you know
Get a head start with our free, ready-to-use templates with Jotform Approvals.
17 ways you can use Jotform Approvals to streamline your business
When Jotform Approvals was created, a great deal of research and interviews went into identifying the industries and the related use cases that could benefit from a modern workflow solution. Here, we’ve identified 17 approval workflow scenarios.
Human resources (HR)
1. Leave requests
Use Jotform Approvals to gather formal leave requests from employees and automate your company’s approval flow. This is often a straightforward one-step workflow, where a team director or HR business partner (HRBP) is notified of a request. They can approve or deny it in a single click, and the employee receives a confirmation email once the flow has ended.
However, you can also customize your form and set up dynamic approvers (in case the typical approver isn’t available or the form is used companywide), enable autoresponder emails, and track approval progress in Jotform Inbox.
2. New hires or role changes
Jotform Approvals makes it easy for you to craft a role change or new hire workflow that ensures all the members of your hiring process — from HRBPs to managers and company leadership — can consider applicants.
You can customize any aspect of your new hire workflow with our drag-and-drop approval builder by editing automated emails or including conditional logic, such as routing the approval to different stakeholders depending on the type of position being considered.
Use a sequential approval workflow to add new approval elements (or stakeholders). As employees complete training, your workflow will instantly notify the first stakeholder (like a manager), and once approved, the next stakeholder, such as a VP.
You can also create conditional branches if, for example, an employee doesn’t complete part of the training successfully. As always, the workflow owner can track requests and approvals from Jotform Inbox on any device.
4. Facility use
For facility use requests, different approvers may need to review the request at the same time, and all approvers might need to approve the request to move it forward in the workflow. With Jotform Approvals, you can customize your facility use workflow with a parallel approval and then merge branches to end the workflow.
The practical result? Those interested in hosting their next event at your school will fill out your request form, the workflow will instantly forward submissions to the appropriate stakeholders, and requesters will quickly receive an email confirming or rejecting their requests.
5. Course add/drop
Whether you oversee course registrations for a private high school or public university, Jotform Approvals enables you to manage requests easily. For example, when a student fills out your online form asking to add or drop a specific course, their submission will instantly be forwarded to the appropriate teacher or advisor for review.
You can build customized outcomes for your workflow, so the approver can approve the request, deny it, or schedule an appointment for further discussion. Students will receive an automated email based on the outcome of their request.
6. Purchase orders
Finance and accounting assistants could use a tool to automate their daily work and free up more time. For purchase orders and invoice approvals, it’s important to make sure multiple stakeholders (i.e., the requester, purchasing department, and/or budget holder) are notified when the request is approved or denied. You can do this by adding more recipients to the Send Email elements in your workflow.
7. Discount approval
Often, our finance friends will receive discount requests from the growth, marketing, or sales departments. When one of these stakeholders fills out your discount request form, their request will automatically be directed to finance for review.
As an approval workflow owner, you can use conditional elements to route requests for discounts that come in over a standard amount to the VP of finance, creating a different path based on the discount amount.
8. Professional development funds
Streamline a professional development fund approval process by customizing the autoresponder emails to notify the requester at each stage of approval. You can also add a time range for a response. This way, if an approver takes too long to respond, you can escalate the task to a different stakeholder or automatically finish the task with a selected outcome when your time range expires.
Information technology (IT)
9. Access approval
Make it more efficient for your IT teams to handle the many account access requests they get from coworkers by turning your request form into a task in an automated approval flow.
Without coding, you can easily customize your approvers by typing an email address into the approver field or selecting an email field on the form to assign an approver. Also, you can set up email notifications for the requester and their manager to ensure seamless communication between departments.
10. Help desk tickets
When a requester submits our premade support ticket form, the resulting approval flow will share their submission with the support team, a help desk specialist, or another individual, based on which conditions are met. When a ticket has been approved or rejected, the requester will receive an automated confirmation or rejection email.
11. Animal adoptions
Nonprofit staff are often overworked and dealing with limited budgets. Some are volunteers who give their time for a cause they believe in. They need simple solutions that save them time and money. Jotform Approvals does both.
An approval workflow that automates the tasks, decision-making, and approvals behind pet adoptions syncs directly with the forms potential adopters fill out. Plus, qualified nonprofit organizations are eligible for a discount on Jotform plans.
12. Volunteer applications
Whether you need volunteers for homeless efforts, Boys & Girls clubs, or vaccination sites, we have a free volunteer application approval process template that you can use in conjunction with your online volunteer application.
Using a simple, sequential approval flow, the first stakeholder will be notified about the application. They’ll send it to the next person responsible for recruiting and so on. Ultimately, volunteers will get a confirmation (or rejection) email.
For cases where you want all stakeholders notified at the same time, Jotform Group Approvals can simplify the flow for you even more.
13. Vendor management
Be it a festival, a conference, or a trade show, Jotform Approvals makes it easy to manage vendor applications.
Vendor applications for events are nuanced and often touch different stakeholders, so it’s important that the workflow owner can customize approval request emails and approval reminder emails. Depending on who your approvers are, approval request emails can include as much or as little information as you see fit.
14. Medical preapproval process
Before prescribing medication to a patient, physicians need prior authorization from the patient’s healthcare provider. We streamline the process of getting approvals from healthcare providers and insurance companies so that physicians can proceed with a patient’s treatment.
Create your workflow so that when a doctor fills out the online form, their submission will instantly be forwarded to the relevant healthcare provider and insurance provider (or both, using a parallel approval) to approve or deny the request. An automated email detailing the final decision will be sent to the physician.
15. Telehealth appointments
If you’re in charge of scheduling for a community clinic or a large healthcare facility, you can use Jotform Approvals to easily manage your telehealth appointments. This approval flow is well suited for sequential approvals and group approvals, so if patient services, an administrative assistant, and the doctor have to sign off, the patient will receive a confirmation or rejection email quickly.
16. Change requests
Streamline internal change requests for your content, design, or product teams with a sequential or group approval flow that includes both the project manager and project owner.
Because of the nature of larger projects, we suggest managing and organizing the collected data, as well as approval (or denial) records, in Jotform Tables. This way, you can accurately reference change requests through the different stages of your projects.
17. Project approvals
One thing there’s never a shortage of in business is requests for new projects. Handle your requests at scale and from any device with Jotform Approvals.
Project approvals are some of the most complicated workflows. We make it easy to add new stakeholders to the approval flow to fit your company structure. You can also set up conditional branching in just a few clicks.
No matter what industry you’re in, there are many ways Jotform and Jotform Approvals can streamline your business. Try it out today!
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