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Approval Workflows: What They Are, And Why You Needed Them Yesterday


Approval workflows rescue office staff from wasting crucial time spent sifting through spreadsheets, clunky email threads, and phone calls to team members. Unfortunately, many people spend too much time processing approvals within the organization.

But automated approval workflows can turn things around, streamlining the entire process and freeing employees to get some real work done.

What are approval workflows?

An approval workflow is a logical sequence of tasks, including human approvals, to process data. In an approval workflow, the process halts until a specific person or group approves the data. Automated approval workflows can eliminate bottlenecks in the process, boost efficiency and improve workplace productivity.

Everything about Approval Workflows

Approvals are often given by direct managers, quality assurance executives, or a cross-department manager, depending on the process. For example, a purchase order approval may involve a direct manager and also someone in finance to ensure there is sufficient cash flow.

Let’s take a look at what an approval workflow software can do, through the example of invoice approvals through Kissflow.

Automated invoice approval workflow

Kissflow comes with a pre-built invoice approval app, but users can also create their own from scratch with a simple 3-step process.

Step 1: Start with a form

First, use a form to collect and display the data involved, such as the initiator, their department, the category of product being invoiced, the date, and the invoice itself (attached as a PDF or other format).

Further automate the form by auto-assigning sequence numbers, auto-populating custom fields with common customers or vendors, and tables that automatically calculate the invoice price based on quantity.

Step 2: Create the approval workflow

This is where the actual invoice approval workflow is defined. Pick either making it a simple one-step approval from a sales team manager, or a more complicated process with more team members involved according to defined parameters.

For instance, invoices valuing over $10,000 might need a once-over from the Sales VP or CFO. With enterprises, other departments might have a say. Business users can create a workflow that best suits their organization with conditional approvals.

Got a complicated approval assignment? Regional + functional managers? Need to get a group of people to approve a request? Or just a certain percentage of a group? Or as long as one person in a group approves it's fine?All of this is possible in a platform like Kissflow. 

All this happens in a no-code visual designer. Anyone who has an in-depth knowledge of the solution is able to structure the workflow exactly as they want without writing any code. 

The task owners get notified through email or mobile push notifications. From there, they can do any checks they need to, and then hit ‘Approve’.

Step 3: Execute, analyze, and improve

Once the invoice approval app is created, you can instantly start getting team members to use it. Choose to make changes to the app when roles change, or when a team member suggests something. Since Kissflow is a simple no-code tool, you can make the change and instantly go live.

Insights provide in-depth data regarding specific tasks, or where a particular approval workflow is. You can use this data to drive insights for improvement.

The benefits of using Kissflow for approval workflows

No manual mistakes

Manual errors are a major hole in any workflow, but running them through a structured workflow means that there are no accounting errors just because someone didn’t copy the figures right from an invoice approval email.


Any team member can look up the right information in a second, and control who gets to see what with level-based access to sensitive data. With automation in the picture, everything gets digitized for instant access.


Accounting laws and rules regarding financial transactions need to be followed on every last transaction. With your invoice approval workflows implemented, you can be sure that they are.


With Kissflow, you have the power of prebuilt approval workflow templates, meaning you don’t even need to create your workflow from scratch!


In a business world where one leaked financial detail can cause considerable damage to an organization, where would you rather have your crucial financial data? In a flimsy file folder, or on a sophisticated cloud-based paperless workflow system?

With Kissflow, you’re guaranteed improved security and with data backed up, and infinite data recovery options in the event of a disaster.

☛ Learn More About 7 Benefits of Workflow Management Systems to Free You From Chaos

But what about choices like Sharepoint?

Microsoft’s Sharepoint is undeniably a strong player in creating automation through workflows software vertical. However, it comes with a few shortcomings that we’ve listed here.

  • You can’t create workflows without getting certified first.
  • Making changes to these workflows generally requires time and money.
  • Sharepoint makes it hard to link several workflows together. 

Take your approval workflows to the next level

With so many benefits coming your way with an approval workflow engine taking care of this crucial process, manual approvals in email will feel extremely slow. Try Kissflow’s approval workflow template today and see for yourself!

Approvals made simple with Kissflow

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FAQs on Approval Workflows

Is there a difference between workflow and approval process?

A workflow process can include sending data through any kind of predefined steps.

An approval process usually means that you have a human task in the middle of the workflow that requires someone to either approve or reject the item.

Why are approval workflows required?

Approval workflows are crucial to the streamlining of any workflows that are business-critical or quality-related. An example of this would be a customer-facing quality assurance process. In such a case, the approval workflow seeks acceptance from a QA manager before releasing the product to the customer.

Additionally, it helps:

  • Improve transparency and delegation

  • Ensure processes are streamlined and optimized

  • Eliminate redundancies and delays

  • Prevent bottlenecks

  • Keep up the standards of quality and product.

What are the types of approval workflows?

Approval workflows can come in many different styles. 

Simple approvals are usually just one-step workflows that go to a manager.

Complex approval workflows might have several levels of approvals before the item is considered complete.