The Importance of Approval Workflows

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 07/02/2022
approval workflows

This article is written for time-deprived project managers, HR personnel and everyone who regularly has to go over expenses and timesheets submitted by either contractors or permanent staff. We will be talking about how approval workflows and automation make your day-to-day life easier, smoother and more efficient. 




80% of the surveyed staff that work with paper timesheets reported that 80% of them need to be corrected. Be it for incorrect timing, illegible writing or any other reason, one thing remains true: it puts a strain on the personnel reviewing said sheets. They end up wasting time they should be putting towards progress-driven tasks instead of fixing errors and going back and forth with the other party.

It’s not just the approvers that get inconvenienced by this either - the workers who have filled the sheets incorrectly also suffer the consequences. In their case, this means potentially being paid late or with an incorrect amount. All of this reflects negatively on the relationships and may lead to either worse work quality or the end of a partnership. In this article, we will present you with a solution to this issue: automated approval workflows. 

Why Do You Need an Approval Process?

When it comes to timesheets and expenses, errors are a frequent occurrence. There are multiple reasons as to why they happen, but they all lead to one consequence. Financial loss. Naturally, you want to avoid that and that’s why an approval process is an absolute must. However, as discussed above, it’s time-consuming and that time could be used for more meaningful tasks. Let’s explore your options further.

Approval Workflow Software

The good news is that like many mundane repetitive tasks, the approval process can be made smoother and less tasking. While it will still require some human judgement in regards to spotting errors, an approval workflow software can save you a lot of time by taking away the need of correcting the submitted documents. Instead, it will task the submitter with it, simultaneously nurturing them to be more responsible in the future. There are a few other benefits that come out of it.

Improved Efficiency 

Adobe has recently found out that on average an office worker spends 3.1 hours a day either reading or answering emails. An approval process that involves email communication contributes towards that directly as it requires a lot of different inputs. Therefore leading to a lot of back and forth, which is stalling the progress.

Employing approval management software addresses this concern by eliminating the need for long email threads. Instead, it streamlines the process by simplifying it to either approving submitted documents or rejecting them; if the submitting party disagrees with the decision or requires clarity, then the communication can be instigated. Cutting down unnecessary email threads improves the overall efficiency as it wins back the time that can then be repurposed, and it also helps to avoid confusion and miscommunication. 

Faster Pay Cycles 

When you skip steps through automating them and only jump in when the need for involvement arises, you save heaps of time. Logically, a quicker approval process leads to quicker payments, thus happier employees that know they can trust you. Trust-driven relationships then breed better alignment and overall better results.

You can also integrate your approval workflow solution with other tools for even better results. For example, if your automated approval process is tied to an automated invoicing system, the moment you approve a timesheet, an invoice will be generated based on it and sent out. If you add the accounting system into the equation, the invoice will be automatically added to the operations and reports there too.

Optimisation and Customisation 

A good digital solution can be optimised and customised to your business needs. SaaS technology (software-as-a-service) is designed to scale with your organisation, therefore you can make it truly yours. From built-in templates to create your own process from scratch, the right software can be tailored into being a perfect match.

Multi-stage Approval Workflows

Depending on the size and structure of your company and/or documentation that needs to be approved, the process can sometimes have multiple stages. A good solution will allow you to customise a workflow to meet your unique requirements, such as having different reviewers for different stages of the approval process.

For example, an employee fills up an expenses report that is part of a project they work on. The project has two approvers - a project assistant and a project manager. Since the project manager is too busy to go through every claim, they only enrol in the workflow under the condition of the project assistant, the first reviewer, approving the claim. If the claim is rejected, however, the project manager never gets notified it’s been made. 

Accessibility at Your Convenience

Mobile devices of today are as capable as computers, therefore many approval automation supporting platforms are also available on phones and tablets. This means that both parties can either submit or approve the documents on the go. Centralised file storage that comes with a solution can also be handy and speed up the process.

Let’s use the above example of an expense claim to illustrate. The expense was something an employee bought in real life, therefore the receipt they’ve received is also physical. Not providing a receipt leads to a claim rejection, and attaching a physical receipt to it would mean having to scan it into a digital format - a hassle that can also be time-consuming if the employee won’t have computer access for a while. If the system is in operation on their mobile device, however, they can snap a picture of the camera right as the receipt is given and attach it to the expenses report on the spot. 

Choosing the Right Software

Let us get something straight - it’s rare for the approval workflow solution to be a stand-alone system. Most often it is a feature found within a bigger platform and should not alone be the selling point. Check other functionality of the software you’re thinking of too - does it align with your business goals or do you find most of the features useless? What about the payment plan? Do you pay for the entire system or the price depends on the modules you use? These questions should guide you toward choosing the right solution.

Approval Workflows in Timesheet Portal

In our case, the creation of approval workflows is an inclusive functionality to almost every module of Timesheet Portal. From timesheets to holiday approvals, it is also fully customisable to adapt to your current process - and streamline it. Whether you choose to use one of the built-in templates or customise it to your needs, we’ve put a strong emphasis on enabling our clients to build both simple and complex approval workflows.

Timesheet Portal also integrates with a wide variety of other software, comes with centralised document storage and is available in a mobile app format. A simple interface makes it easy for everyone within your company to either submit or approve timesheets, holiday requests, invoices and other documentation. And we are always happy to assist you in setting the workflows up.


An approval process is mandatory for every business that wants to be successful. It helps to maintain high service standards, stay on track with time and finances and helps to ensure everyone is on the same page. The downside is that it is often time-consuming, and therefore counter-productive and draining. The creation of approval workflows to streamline this process is a massive help.

Integrating an approval automation supporting system with your other tools can streamline other operations within your business, such as invoicing. Whether your native approval process is straightforward or involves multiple parties across different tasks, quality software like Timesheet Portal will adjust to your needs.

Ready to reduce the time wasted on back and forths? Give us a shout.

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Timesheet Portal online software provided by Anfold Software Ltd, a registered company in the UK.