Create Travel Approval Workflow For Google Apps in Minutes
February 22nd, 2018 • Google Apps
Travel approvals are forms that need to be signed off in order for an employee to travel on company expenses. Approvers might include department heads, other top brass, and team members from the finance department. The forms may be printed paper sheets, or soft copy versions passed around online.
A travel approval workflow is one of the most essential workflows for companies whose employees often need to travel for business.
Here’s an example – the requester specifies the purpose of travel along with the travel plans, estimated cost and cost center. The travel request is automatically routed for approval to the appropriate signing authority or authorities, based on estimated total cost and travel advance requested.
The travel request is automatically approved if all of the following conditions are met:
(1) Estimated travel cost is specified by the requester
(2) Estimated travel cost is less than the maximum travel cost allowed
(3) The travel advance requested by the requester is less than a predefined value.
Even if a single condition is not met, the travel request is sent to the manager for approval, and then to the respective department head. Once the approvals are given, the request is sent to the admin team for making the travel arrangements and the finance team for providing the travel advance.
Here are the 5 Steps for Building the Travel Approval Workflow [ Try for free now ]
1. Assign Possible Initiators of a Travel Approval Workflow
Start by defining your workflow with a name – ‘Travel Request Approval’. For the purpose of this example, let’s say any user can raise a travel request. You can retain the default value ‘Everyone’ for ‘Who can initiate?’ so that the travel approval workflow is available for all the users.
If the travel request approval workflow is to be used only by a select set of users from your company or only the users from a particular department can use the travel approval workflow, you can assign access to designated users by specifying the list of users and/or groups from your Google Apps domain.
2. Design the Travel Approval Form
The default travel approval form has been designed to capture requester details, travel details, project details (cost center), travel itinerary, accommodation requirements and expense/ticket details.
The request details such as ‘Travel Request ID’, ‘Requester Name’, ‘Date Submitted’ are automatically updated using simple formulas [‘Travel Request ID’: auto-generated sequence number‘, Requester Name’: CreatedBy.FullName, ‘Date Submitted’: today()].
A table has been created for capturing the itinerary details so that users can enter multiple entries. It could be used for updating the ‘To’ and ‘Return’ travel, or for entering multiple options for same travel, by listing their preferences in the ‘Special Instructions’ column in the table.
A project-master has been created for maintaining project details including the project manager, travel allowances and cost center. This master has been used in the form to look up projects and associated details such as project manager, travel cost and travel advance. The expenses section allows the admin to capture the ticket and accommodation expenses incurred for making these arrangements.
The travel admin can attach the tickets to the request using the attach docs button, so that the requester can take a print out if required.
3. Define the Travel Approval Workflow
We’ve defined the travel approval workflow that includes a two-step approval process — initial approval by project manager and then the final approval by department head.
To automate the project manager and department head approvals, the following formula has been specified for ‘Execute when’: OR(Estimated_Travel_Cost=0, Estimated_Travel_Cost>Max_Travel_Cost, Travel_Advance>Max_Travel_Advance).
Once the necessary approvals are given, the travel request is sent simultaneously to the travel admin for booking the tickets/accommodation and the finance team for providing the travel advance. ‘Parallel Branches‘ are used for sending the requests simultaneously to the admin and the finance team.
The ‘Provide Input‘ process step has been used in both the branches because booking the tickets and providing travel advance is just a task that needs to be get DONE.
Also, the finance team has to provide the travel advance only when the user has requested for it. So the following condition (Travel_Advance>0) has been used for the ‘Travel Advance’ branch.
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4. Configure Visibility Permissions of the Travel Request Form
The visibility and editability of all the fields in the Travel Request form can be configured in this step. By default, the entire form as designed in Step 2 will be visible to all the users; the form will be editable for the initiators, while the form will be read-only for the project manager, department head, travel admin and the finance users.
The expenses section will be updated only by the travel team. Hence, this section can be hidden for all the steps except ‘Book Tickets’ process step where the fields in this section are editable.
5. Publish the Travel Approval Workflow
This is a single-click publishing that makes your Travel Request workflow available for the designated people at your company.
KiSSFLOW provides a set of pre-built reports which you can use to view, analyse and gather insights about the travel request data submitted by users in your domain.
How to Build a Travel Approval Workflow in KiSSFLOW
KiSSFLOW offers an easy 5-step wizard to build a travel approval workflow that can be used across the existing user base of your Google Apps domain.
The 5-step wizard guides the user through the process of creating their workflow and thereby eliminates any possibilities for users to miss out any steps.
When KiSSFLOW is added from Google Apps marketplace, KiSSFLOW automatically syncs Users/Groups from your domain. You can assign them as workflow participants and collaborate with them on your workflows.
Challenges of not using a Travel Approval Workflow
The lack of a proper travel approval workflow poses the following challenges:
- A request & approval process that uses spreadsheets and emails is difficult to manage with scale and is not transparent
- Travel plans are often made at the last minute, resulting in high ticket costs
- No control over travel costs, budget limits and approvals required
KiSSFLOW allows you to easily automate your travel approval workflow to bring structure and better controls to the travel approval process.
KiSSFLOW is a Keep it Simple & Smart Workflow for Google Apps that simplifies the entire process of Travel Request approval workflow creation for business users. Try creating this workflow on KiSSFLOW – it is free for up to 10 processes and 10 users in your company.