Document Approval: Best Practices, Strategies, and Tips for Success

Document Approval

Documents are a staple in a modern workplace, guiding almost every process from invoicing to purchase orders to employment contracts. To ensure these documents achieve their purposes, a well-planned document approval process is a must. It ensures the documents don’t sit at an approver’s desk, creating a bottleneck.

Here are several best practices to ensure a smooth document approval system.

The Importance of Efficient Document Approval Workflows

Document approval keeps the business running, and as the business grows, you can’t stick with manual approval processes. You need a document approval workflow that seamlessly moves from one department to the next and uses modern tools to ensure speed and accuracy. 

Manual approval systems are often time-consuming because employees have to rely on inefficient document transfers, such as email threads. However, you can automate document approval workflows to make them faster and more productive for everyone. 

With document approval workflows, you eliminate the risks of misplacing and losing documents due to human errors. Team communication is also better so incidents of having confusing and frustrating multiple versions of the same documents are avoided.

Manual systems lack robust data security, potentially exposing sensitive and proprietary information to malicious actors. In contrast, reputable document approval software is built with the latest encryption technology to protect your data. They also create a transparent record of who has seen a document and approved it. This creates a clear approval framework to avoid any late submissions or incomplete work.

Document Approval

Best Practices for Document Approval

A streamlined document approval process significantly improves an organization’s productivity which can boost sales and increase revenue. To ensure a smooth approval process, check out these best practices:

1. Use the right document management system

You need document approval software that supports your existing workflows. It must be able to store and manage files electronically, letting you browse documents and comment on them. A good system allows you to set permission levels so different team members can view, comment on, or edit a file. Look for a user-friendly interface to encourage user adoption. 

2. Create different approval systems for internal and external documents

Internal documents don’t require a strictly formal approval process, unlike external documents. This means you can create a more streamlined internal approval workflow that includes automated steps. Meanwhile, external documents need a more rigorous system, and you can use an approval system to quickly identify these documents.

3. Clearly define the steps of the document approval workflow

You must set due dates for each step, and the documents flow logically from one step to the next. You should also determine who initiates the first step and who makes the initial approvals. Taking time to clearly define each step ensures that the system moves efficiently and won’t require a lot of tweaks or exemptions. 

4. Take advantage of conditional approval rules

Conditional rules will help you make automatic approvals and flag workflows that need attention. It allows you to route documents based on a set of criteria. For example, you can create a conditional rule to flag invoices over $10,000 and send them straight to the CFO for approval. This further streamlines the approval process, making it faster and more efficient.

5. Regularly review various stages of the document approval workflow

Figure out which stages need to be reviewed and the individuals to perform the task. Incorporating reviews into the workflow ensures the approval process keeps flowing. You should also ensure there’s a holistic view of the entire project so you can achieve maximum visibility in different areas and quickly identify the causes of delays.

Strategies for Successful Document Approval

You can create an effective and successful document approval system with the following strategies:

Define the persons involved in the document approval upfront

You don’t want to accidentally leave an important stakeholder out which can lead to costly mistakes and frustrating delays. Always review your document approval process and include all the involved persons from the start. Group them into review steps so you can keep the process organized.

Create due dates to prevent delays in the approval process

Projects have deadlines that often can’t be adjusted just because the approval process takes time. Avoid delays by assigning deadlines for feedback and setting due dates for every review stage. Use approval software that indicates who hasn’t submitted their feedback and sends them an automatic reminder.

Collect feedback from reviewers in one place

It’s hard to get approval for documents when feedback is all over the place. Reviewers can leave comments in the document itself, through a private message, or in an email thread. Create a system or use a tool where all feedback is transparently collated in one place so everyone’s on the same page from the start. This will expedite the approval process.

Organize document versions 

Multiple document versions can get confusing, especially for those who need to approve the document. Ensure everyone’s looking at the latest version by using software with version control. You don’t want an outdated document passing through document review and getting approved.

Document Approval

Streamline the Approval Process with Fill

Improve your document approval workflow with an electronic signature solution like Fill. With a few clicks, you can instantly send signature requests to clients, partners, and colleagues. You don’t have to wait for physically signed documents to know if there are changes or if the document is approved.

With Fill, you get a secure solution that abides by various regulatory standards like HIPAA, GLBA, ESIGN, and more. You’ll also enjoy a centralized workspace where you can manage documents that require signature approvals such as contracts, invoices, purchase orders, and more. 

You can create reusable, custom-branded templates and automate your approval workflows so documents flow seamlessly from one approver to the next, eliminating bottlenecks.

Check out Fill today and start a free trial. 

Andria Pacina

Andria is a seasoned content writer, specializing in document management solutions and HIPAA compliance, providing valuable insights for businesses and professionals alike.

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