The Definitive Guide to Approval Processes


Work often needs to be approved by managers and directors in every organization before it can formally begin or move to the next step. Approval processes are standardized within companies to dictate how the submitted work should be approved and rejected.

However, these processes are slow and filled with delays when they are not created and optimized accurately. While most organizations are starting to digitize approval processes, they still aren’t actively automating these processes, which can lead to decreased productivity and efficiency.

What is an approval process?


An approval process is a type of business process that includes steps to formally approve work from different levels of the organization. The work can include budgets, invoices, project outlines, marketing initiatives, or any other items that need a series of approvals from different departments.

What is an Approval System?

An approval system is a structured process that helps an organization streamline any approval within a given workflow. An example of an approval system is the outlined step that concerns the approval of reimbursement.

What is approval management?

Approval management is the process component of a workflow that requires an approver (or supervisor) to authenticate and approve a step or task to push the request along the defined path. Approval management is key to ensuring increased transparency and accountability.

Approval Process Elements

A standard approval process has the following elements:

Submission documents

The submission documents can be anything that needs to be approved, whether its an invoice, a purchase quote, or any other internal document.


The approvers are the ones who decide whether the submitted documents should be approved or rejected. In case your process has various levels of approval, then it’s important to decide who approves the documents first.

Permission levels

To maintain security throughout the organization, it’s crucial to set different permission levels for each user so that you can control who can view, edit, reject, or approve the submitted documents.

Due dates

Just like any other business process, approval processes should also have set deadlines so that they can be initiated and completed in a timely manner.


Recording every step of the approval process is just as important not only to maintain transparency throughout the organisation, but also to easily view and track all the actions in case of a discrepancy.

Examples of approval processes used by organizations

With the right approval processes in place, you can quickly review each deliverable and get approvals more quickly. The type of approval process you create will depend on the deliverables and the departments you are dealing with.

Let’s take a look at 4 approval process examples:

1. Invoices Approvals

Before approving an invoice, the accounting department needs to verify a series of parameters. In this case, the approval process can have a checklist that can be used to make sure all the necessary parameters including invoice number, price, date, and payment terms are reviewed before the invoice is cleared. The form may go through a workflow including the purchasing, finance, and those actually receiving the goods or services.

2. Budget Approvals

Managing operational budgets are an important part of the company's function. Once the budget proposal is completed, it needs to be vetted by a series of executives before being accepted and implemented. A budget approval involves passing the budget through various filters, departments, and approvers, making the appropriate changes, and ensuring the budget aligns with the objectives and demands of the organization.

3. Design Approvals

Design is probably the first thing customers notice when interacting with a brand. Marketing teams need to ensure their logos, graphics, ads, merchandise, and everything else is designed and packaged properly in accordance to the design standards and guidelines. A design approval encapsulates every stage a design goes through from initial drafting, change management, brand scrutiny, marketing approvals, and final management vetting.

This is a sophisticated process since every iteration requires the graphic designer to rework the product and reinitiate approvals.

4. Creative approvals

As compared to invoice approvals, creative approvals have a more complicated process. For instance, you may need multiple steps to include content writing, graphic designers, and web technicians, each with conditional approvals after the work is completed.

Workflows might also be dependent on:

  • The number of revisions that can be requested
  • The time limit on the revision period
  • The number of days it would take to deliver the designs

With these approval parameters in place, the designers can be assured that their workload won’t suddenly grow and they also wouldn’t have to worry about client responsiveness.

Benefits of automating your approval process

Manual approval processes take a longer time to complete and they are also more prone to errors. On the other hand, automating approval processes can give you more control, transparency, and allow your team members to get approvals quickly.

Benefits of Automated Approval Processes

Some of the many benefits of automating approval processes include:

Custom templates: With built-in templates, you can easily create new workflows for the approval process by customizing those templates instead of designing one from scratch. This, in turn, allows you to save time and kickstart the approval process faster.

Editing capabilities: Once you have created a workflow for an approval process and you start using it, there might be some changes required to the parameters or the procedures that were initially in place. You can easily edit an existing automated approval process instead of creating a new one.

Better compliance and security: By automating approval processes, you are able to record every step of the process which can then be easily reviewed to check for compliances during internal audits. You are also able to maintain tighter security across the organisation, by only giving access to the approval documents to users who are involved in the process.

Seamless collaboration: For complex approval projects, monitoring every member’s actions and ensuring a proper flow of information can be an incredibly tedious task. Keeping track of the different levels of the approval process, updating different users involved, and adhering to deadlines can become a whole lot easier when the processes are automated.

How to use approval for request management?

Approvals play an integral role in request management - by adding a layer of approval, decision-makers can keep an eye on quality as well as take contextual decisions on whether the request meets certain criteria, thereby triggering the request to go forward along the workflow path or backwards for additional action.

How to create an approval process in Kissflow

Kissflow is a cloud-based business process and workflow management tool that can help you automate approval processes in your organization in less than 15 minutes.

It’s a no-code application with intuitive drag and drop tools that allow you to automate workflows in the easiest way possible. It also offers heightened data security with role-based access, which means you can control who has access to the data.

You can create automated approval processes in Kissflow in just three steps:

Step 1: Set up a form

The first step is to create a form that includes all the parameters of your approval process. Kissflow Workflow allows users to add custom fields for attaching files, auto-populating data, tables, and much more.

Step 2: Create a workflow

The next step is to create a workflow for the approval process. This can be as simple as a one-step process that only involves your team manager, or it can include multiple levels of approval from different departments within the organization.

Step 3: Add approvers and submitters

The final step is to add all the people involved in the approval process so that they can submit, view, approve or reject documents. At this step, you can also decide which users are allowed to edit and modify the data.

Get to the finish

Workflow Approval Processes are a part of every organization’s day-to-day agenda, and by automating them through workflow management tools like Kissflow you can increase the productivity and efficiency of your team while seamlessly managing every process.

Try Kissflow Workflow for free today to customize and automate approval processes for your team easily.

Automate Approval Processes for Your Team Easily