In any organization, there will be certain processes that need to be approved before they are able to proceed with being worked on. Often times, this can translate to numerous emails and phone calls, lots of paperwork to keep up with, messy spreadsheets and potential miscommunication. To make your life easier, you can use monday.com to standardize your approval processes and centralize communication between colleagues in order to save time and avoid any potential mishaps.
Whether your company is in need of approving contracts, leaves of absence, procurements, a project before it is able to start, or more, monday.com can pave the way for a smooth and efficient workflow to oversee any approval process from A-Z. 🙌
Approval process basics
Before we begin, you may be wondering "What exactly is an approval process? Well, in simple terms, an approval process is a method used by an organization to approve anything and everything from budgets, designs, documents, project blueprints, and more, in a structured way.
An example of an approval process workflow may look something like this:
- Employees can submit an approval request
- The approval is entered into an "approvals queue" where it can then be managed and tracked
- Approvers will be notified of a new request and can review a submitted approval and communicate with others involved if needed
- Files to be approved are centralized in one place for easy access
- Management can easily oversee and analyze all of the approvals at the department or company level
Now that we have a basic understanding of what an approval process may look like, let's see how this kind of workflow can come to life in monday.com!
Use a board to centralize approvals
To manage our company-wide approvals, we've created the below board. We like to have all of our approvals consolidated in one place and to then zoom into specific approval categories if needed (we'll touch on this in a bit!). However, if you are part of a larger organization with many departments within, you may want to consider creating an approval board per department or category of approvals - whatever works for you!
We've structured the groups to display the status of each approval and each item within represents a separate approval request. For the columns, we chose to add various column types such as the Status Column, the People Column, the Long Text Column, the Numbers Column, the Files Column, and more, so we can easily view the data points that we need for each approval.
Streamline incoming approvals with a form
Our board is form-powered, meaning that items can be added to the board by simply filling out a form, making the approval request process a breeze! Anyone who needs an approval within our company can quickly complete this form and their answers will populate directly onto our board for it to be managed.
Once an employee fills out this form to request an approval, our board will automatically be updated with all the necessary details and the approval will be ready to move on to the next steps of the process!
Collaborate on files with image annotations
If you need a design, blueprint, or mock-up approved, chances are that you could benefit from communicating with your team directly within an image! For these exact scenarios, you are able to annotate images that are uploaded to a Files Column on your board.
For us, the image annotations feature is super useful so we can easily discuss the design mock-up for our billboard directly on the image itself! This way, we can get the needed input from the relevant people as our design is being approved. 🙌
Aside from communicating on images, collaborating with your teammates is essential for nearly any other aspect of the approvals process. With the help of the Updates Section, you can communicate directly with your teammates, in context and in one concentrated, collaborative space.
We love to use this specifically for discussing a project that is pending approval, providing feedback to our teammates, and to check in with all those collaborating on the approval to make sure we’re aligned.
Being able to effectively communicate and work together with our team on each approval is key to optimizing our approval process! Let's check out some other functionalities that can help take our workflow up a notch. 🌟
monday.com Automations allow you to easily ramp up your workflow by setting automatic actions that occur on your board, saving you time and reducing manual work that you have to do! For our approvals workflow, we've added the below automation recipes:
Thanks to these recipes in place, we can automatically:
- Notify the management team when a new approval is added to the board so that they can assign the necessary approver to it
- Notify the requester when their request is approved
- Move the approvals to the appropriate group in accordance to their status
You can really have fun with the way you automate your own approval workflow. Feel free to check out the automations center for all the pre-set recipes that we offer, as well as custom automations which allow you to build out your own automation flows!
Display approvals relevant to you
Good news! Your approvals board is now up and running with evermore requests coming in all the time! With a board jam-packed many approvals, you may now want to zoom into specific details that are most relevant to you, whether it be approvals that are assigned to you, are considered high priority, belong to a certain category/department, or more.
To help display exactly what you need to see, check out the Board Filters!
Since we are managing our company-wide approvals all on one board, we find it useful to create a separate, filtered view for each approval category! This way, each requester or approver can easily navigate to the approval types that belong to them and their department.
Control who can edit each approval
Approval requests often contain sensitive information which can only be viewed or edited by specific people. If you'd like to control access to specific pieces of information for each approval, we recommend using permissions!
For our specific approvals workflow, it was really important that only the requester or approver will be able to change statuses or other data points for their own approval. For this reason, we've gone ahead and added the below permission to our board:
With this board permission in place, we can ensure that each request will only managed by the appropriate people which are assigned to it! All other board members who are not assigned to a specific approval will not be able to make any adjustments to it. 🙌
Use a dashboard to analyze approvals
Now that we have a fully functional approval workflow in place, it is important for our management team to be able to get a clear report of all of our approvals at a high level. For this, we've created a Dashboard loaded with widgets to help summarize different parameters of data from our approvals!
Let's check out some of the widgets that we've used here:
- We used two Number Widgets to help display both the average budget needed for each approval as well as a total sum of our approval budgets altogether.
- We've used a few Chart Widgets in different formats to show a breakdown of items assigned for each approver, the distribution of approvals for each category, and the budgets needed for each category of approvals.
- The Battery Widget to show the overall progress of all approvals on our board.
- The Time Tracking Widget to breakdown the amount of time that each approver spent on their assigned items.
- The Calendar Widget to display a monthly overview of our approvals in a calendar-style display. We've also chosen to color each approval by its status so we can easily understand the state of that specific item!
Our dashboards and widgets are fully customizeable! We highly recommend checking out the full widgets center as well as our monday app widgets so you can really make the most of the reports that you create!
To summarize this workflow:
- An employee fills out a form to submit their approval request
- Management is notified of a new approval submission so they can assign the relevant approver
- The approver reviews the request and communicates with other employees about it if necessary
- The approver marks the request as 'approved' or 'rejected'
- The requester receives a notification of the approvers decision
- Management or other relevant employees can access the 'Approvals Overview' dashboard for a constantly-updated overview of the approval data for them to analyze
And just like that, you're all set and ready to get started using monday.com as an approvals workflow solution!
As with any workflow guide, the boards, views, automations and other features mentioned are just a suggestion! Make sure to check out other prepared templates, explore the Columns Center, and look into the settings available on the features that you use to see all of the ways you can customize and build out your own unique workflow. 🤩
If you have any questions, please reach out to our team by using our contact form. We're available 24/7 and happy to help!