Three Pain Points of Your Manual Approval Process

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Approvals are critically important in driving business productivity. However, 43% of businesses struggle with document or information approval processes. In an earlier survey, 46% of businesses said paper-based processes are a waste of time. Finally, depending on the industry or what’s being approved, 92% of missed deadlines are due to approval requests.

Here are three of the most common pain points associated with manual, approval-based processes. Digitizing them using workflow mobile apps makes things much easier, faster and more efficient for your organization.

1. Going Back and Forth Simply Wastes Time You Don’t Have

Many organizations use manual methods – verbal communication, email and pen-and-paper forms – to request and collect approvals. Each has its own issues:


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Verbal approvals must be properly documented, actioned and shared.

Otherwise, the result is a lot of inaccurate back-and-forth communication trying to recollect who said what and when, which wastes time and causes delays.

37% of emails requiring a definite answer are delayed beyond the expected or required response time.

A reason for this is because the recipient needs more information or context before providing a reply.

Paper-based forms are difficult to track (15% are misplaced and 7.5% are lost forever) and expensive to manage (it costs a business $20 (USD) to file a document, $120 to find a misplaced document and $220 to reproduce a lost document).

Playing phone tag, email tag or paper chasing isn’t fast or efficient. Regarding the latter, in fact, 72% of organizations believe business at the speed of paper will be unacceptable. When timely approvals are the difference between a truck with a time-sensitive delivery schedule hitting the road on time or being 30 minutes late, paper-based approvals don’t cut it.

2. More Approvals Take Time and Lead to Costly Delays

Years ago, a study claimed that with each additional layer of approval, the time required to get it would double. And while excessive time spent waiting for multi-level approvals is still problematic, technology is in a better place to speed up the process.

Here’s a hypothetical scenario: 30 minutes are required to receive a single approval for a transportation and logistics (T&L) warehouse loading dock safety audit – which must be completed before work can resume. A four-layered approval process would take four hours in total (30 minutes for level one approval, one hour for level two, two hours for level three and four hours for level four).

That’s half of an eight-hour shift lost waiting for the safety audit approval to come in. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Often, approval requests are sent to the wrong individual or group of individuals. As a result, the request gets “stuck” until it’s located and re-routed to the right place.
  • When an approver receives a request, there may not be enough information or context available for them to provide a timely answer – so they need to spend extra time going back to the submitter to get those additional details – and then the submitter needs to spend extra time providing them.
  • Approval requests may not be submitted with a firm deadline or reminder system in place, so the request is forgotten or simply missed.

Approximately 36% of workers feel that getting approvals in a timely manner would make them more efficient. But efficiency grinds to a halt when approvals must go through multiple stages and there’s no way to formally track where they are in the process or escalate when they end up in a standstill.

3. Lack of Visibility and Consistency in How Approvals are Received

Here’s another hypothetical scenario: a truck is loaded with goods to be delivered to various retail outlets, and before it hits the road, it must pass a safety inspection from three supervisors. The driver can only leave when they receive these three inspection approvals:

  • The first supervisor initials a piece of paper stating the truck has passed inspection.
  • The second supervisor sends a text message to the driver through a messaging app stating the truck has passed inspection.
  • The third supervisor verbally approves that the truck has passed inspection.

That’s three different approvals from three different people received in three different formats. But which one followed proper procedures? Did the three supervisors validate each other’s approvals? What happens if the piece of paper is lost, the text message is deleted or the verbal approval is forgotten or misremembered? It leads to delays and wastes time.

In this scenario, there’s no consistency regarding how approvals are received and there’s no auditable trail. How do you gather or collect approvals from a piece of paper, text message, or verbally and see them all together? How can you confirm that all three supervisors were aware of each other’s approvals?

You can’t. And those discrepancies can lead to compliance issues (a single non-compliance incident can cost up to $4 million USD in revenue) and delays. In T&L, for example, if trucks don’t hit the road on time, the supply chain slows down. In retail, store shelves are empty because the delivery trucks loaded with products are late. The business suffers and customers become unhappy.

Speed Up Your Approval-Based Processes with SOTI Snap Workflow

One of the headlining features of the Winter 2023 SOTI ONE Platform Update was Workflow in SOTI Snap. Workflow is a drag-and-drop process builder that automates approval-based business processes.

Any information required for approval – whether it’s a photograph, procurement request or customer signature – can be collected from the mobile devices you already use via a SOTI Snap app. With this workflow management solution, organizations can collect data accurately, send it for approval promptly and monitor where it is in the process and where it’s going next.

That means:

  • No more time spent looking for lost, paper-based approval documents because data collection is digitized and approval requests are automated
  • No more wondering who the approval is with because workflow mobile apps automatically document each stage of the approval process
  • No more forgetting to send critical emails asking for approvals because Workflow sends the right email to the right person with the right information at the right time

  • No more trying to make sense of or interpret various approval requests because Workflow sends them out in a consistent manner every time

It’s easy to build an approval-based process using SOTI Snap Workflow. The same intuitive drag-and-drop feature used to build apps in SOTI Snap is also applicable in Workflow. Check out the video below to see how quick a workflow mobile app process can be developed:

SOTI Snap Workflow

Want to Try Workflow for Yourself?

Start your FREE trial of SOTI Snap today and start automating the critical approval-based processes your business depends on with SOTI Snap Workflow.

If you have questions, simply contact us or book a FREE demo with one of our product experts.