Document Routing And Approval: A Guide to Find the Right Fit!

document routing and approval

According to a statistical report by the Radicati Group, In 2020, there were more than 306 billion daily emails sent and received by businesses and consumers; the figures are expected to rise by 361 billion by the end of 2024.

In any organization, documents are the lifeline for communication and collaboration; And many rely on emails as their prime communication medium. From contracts and proposals to invoices and HR forms, documents are used to convey critical information and get work done. However, managing documents can be a challenge, especially when it comes to effective routing and approval. Document routing and approval is the process of sending documents to the right people at the right time for review, feedback, and approval. This process can be complex, involving multiple teams, departments, and levels of approval with back-and-forth emails/calls. You would be astonished by the fact that billions of emails are shared every day. Solutions like Cflow ease out this tedious document routing and approval process with custom workflows.

In this blog, we’ll explore the key concepts of document routing and approval, including best practices for designing workflows that are efficient, effective, and compliant. Let us also dig deeper into how Cflow helps to automate document routing and approval.

What is Document Routing?

Document routing is the process of directing a document to the appropriate stakeholders for review, feedback, and approval. Document routing, generally, is a complex and challenging task to handle. The goal of document routing is to ensure that the document is reviewed by all relevant stakeholders and approved promptly and efficiently.

Reports find that around 81% of small organizations rely on daily email as their primary customer acquisition channel, and this figure ranges around 89% in case of retention.

Organizations of any size route documents in volume and find it much more time-consuming and may be prone to miss out on something important. The possibility of forgetting or misrouting a document is high in the manual document routing process. When these documents are shared through emails, your inbox is full all the time for sure. Moreover, Chances are still high to miss out on the most important email to accomplish a task, as it is difficult to open and read all the emails.

How Document Routing Works?

To share a document is easy, but in volumes is a bit complex whereas tracking and managing the same is really daunting

Document routing is a critical component of document management, ensuring that important documents are reviewed and approved by the right people at the right time. By designing an effective routing process, organizations can improve efficiency, accuracy, and compliance, while reducing errors and delays.

A document created (for some business purpose) is shared (usually via email) and routed to the appropriate stakeholders for review and approval. The reviewed document may/may not include suggestions/edits on the document by the reviewer. The feedback is incorporated and is then approved or rejected based on specific criteria, such as meeting legal or regulatory requirements. Once the document has been approved, it is finalized and signed by all relevant parties.

Document routing can be automated using document routing software and approval routing software. Workflow automation tools like Cflow relinquish the functionalities of these software tools. Cflow streamlines the routing process reduces errors with efficient tracking and review, and automates the approval process in a timely manner. 

Document tracking and approval are also essential parts of document approval workflows. Document tracking allows stakeholders to monitor the progress of a document as it moves through the different phases of the document lifecycle. 

Document approval system ensures that the document reviewed is devoid of mistakes and complies with legal/ company policies. Approval routing software or automated approval workflows hold an integral place in finalizing a document so as to meet the requirements.

Document Approval Examples

Document approval workflows can be used in a wide range of industries and for various types of documents. Here are a few examples of how document approval workflows can be used:

Contracts: It’s critical that all pertinent parties study and approve any contracts that a business draughts with a supplier or client. The contract can be sent to the legal team, the finance team, and any other pertinent stakeholders for review and approval via a document approval mechanism.

Proposals: The project team, management, and finance team must all examine and approve a proposal that a company submits for a project or contract before it can move further. The proposal can be sent to each stakeholder for assessment and approval using a document approval mechanism.

Invoices: Before being paid, invoices that are prepared for payment must first be reviewed and approved by the relevant stakeholders. The invoice can be sent to the necessary stakeholders for evaluation and approval using a document approval mechanism.

HR forms: Employees must submit HR paperwork, including expense reports or vacation requests, for inspection and approval by the proper parties, like the employee’s boss or the HR department. The form can be sent to the necessary stakeholders for assessment and approval using a workflow for the document approval process.

In each of these examples, a document approval workflow can help ensure that all relevant stakeholders have reviewed and approved the document in a timely and effective manner, reducing errors and delays and improving compliance.

Document Routing and Approval Workflow

A document approval workflow is a structured process that allows organizations to route documents to the right people at the right time for review and approval. Whether it’s a contract, proposal, or invoice, getting documents approved in a timely manner is critical to the success of any organization. 

Document approval workflows can help ensure that documents are accurate, complete, and compliant, while also reducing delays and errors by routing them to the appropriate persons at a particular document workflow stage.

How Is A Document Routed And Approved?

Document routing and approval typically involves moving documents through various stages of the document lifecycle aiming at the timely delivery of an error-free document to the intended recipient.  Most documents find their recipient end at network folders, databases, ERP, CRM, accounting software, web folders, and email addresses.

Initially,  the document is created and then routed to the appropriate stakeholders for review. The reviewer can be one among subject matter experts, legal or compliance teams, or other relevant parties. Once the document has been reviewed, it is then routed to the next stakeholder for approval. This process continues until all stakeholders have reviewed and approved the document.

Why Automated Document Routing And Approval is So Important?

Every business document is essential for seamless business operation which highly relies on routing the document in a proper direction. When you aim for seamless document routing, you aim to route the right document to the intended people at the right time. This helps you avoid documents being mishandled by unauthorized/ unintended persons accessing or editing the document. 

Propelling the document in a streamlined manner gets you things done without any discrepancies or delays. i.e. you need not wait for a review approval or feedback with an automated document routing and approval software. Here, the path document to be routed is mapped and only appropriate persons are intimated for review or approval at the right time. 

Unnecessary chaos never occurs in a streamlined document lifecycle as only the right people have access to the document or are involved in the process. Here are a few challenges that stress the importance of automated document workflow in an organization. 

  • In manual and paper-based document routing it is difficult to track where a document is and this leads to delays, miscommunications, and even lost documents.
  • When done manually, the process involves multiple stakeholders, each with their own priorities, preferences, and timelines. In such instances, it can be a challenge to balance the needs and expectations of all parties involved.
  • Ensuring compliance while also maintaining efficiency can be a delicate balancing act. Manual intervention may affect the accuracy of the document making them violate the norms. Depending on the type of document and the industry in which the organization operates, there may be legal or regulatory requirements that need to be met in terms of document routing and approval.

Such things urge organizations to take steps to mitigate them and design document routing and approval workflows that are efficient, effective, and compliant.

With automated document routing workflows, nothing is left unattended or unavailable to access by/for the appropriate. The process visibility enhanced by the workflows mitigates the risk of errors and ensures none involved in the process is left uninformed.  

The automated notifications and reminders are timely and pre-defined by custom rules for the mode of communication. You can choose your notification to be a message, email, or call. This streamlining of document routing also improves the ease of handling documents in the review stage and incorporates the suggested edits. 

How To Set Up A Document Routing And Approval Workflow

Designing document routing and approval software requires careful planning and execution, but the benefits of an effective workflow can be significant in terms of increased efficiency, accuracy, and compliance. By designing a workflow that meets the specific needs of the organization, stakeholders can be confident that documents are being reviewed and approved in a timely and effective manner. 

  • Identification of the right people involves choosing the reviewers, approvers, and any other pertinent individuals who must be involved in the document routing and approval process.
  • Decide what kinds of papers, such as contracts, proposals, invoices, or HR forms, will be forwarded and authorized.
  • Establish the guidelines for document distribution, including who will evaluate and approve the document, how stakeholders will receive it, and any deadlines or dates that must be adhered to.
  • Choose a method for sending documents, such as email, a document management system, or a workflow automation tool.
  • Before routing documents for approval, find out the approval criteria for each type of document, as well as any escalation procedures that must be followed in the event that a document is not accepted.
  • Test the workflow with a small group of employees after it has been designed to make sure it is efficient and effective. Adapt as appropriate in light of comments and information.
  • Employees involved in routing documents for the approval process should get training and support, including instructions on how to access and utilize the workflow system.

The following flowchart showcases the steps in setting up a document routing and approval workflow. 


Steps to implement a document routing and approval workflow

Routing Right Does Wonders:

Document routing and approval workflows may seem like a hassle, but they offer a range of benefits that can ultimately save time, reduce errors, and improve collaboration. Document routing and approval workflows can help organizations streamline their document management processes, reduce errors and delays, and improve collaboration and compliance. By taking the time to design and implement a well-structured workflow, organizations can reap the benefits of a more efficient and effective document management system. Here are some key benefits of document routing and approval workflows:

Efficient: Documents traverse easily from person to person with the help of a well-designed document routing and approval workflow, assuring that everyone who ought to examine or approve the document does so promptly. As a result, efficiency is boosted as bottlenecks and delays are decreased.

Accurate: Organizations can lower the risk of errors and ensure that documents are correct and complete by directing documents to the appropriate individuals for evaluation and approval.

Collaboration: Workflows for document routing and approval can aid in cooperation by ensuring that all parties have access to the same data and can give comments quickly. This could facilitate better communication and lessen misunderstandings.

Compliance: There could be legal or regulatory requirements for document routing and approval, depending on the sector and the document type. Compliance with these requirements can help to ensure a well-designed workflow.

Security: Organizations can lower the risk of unauthorized access or tampering by routing documents through a secure, digital process. This can support maintaining people’s privacy and defending sensitive information.

How Cflow Makes Document Routing And Approval Seamless

Document approval workflows are critical for organizations that want to improve efficiency, accuracy, and compliance. Cflow, the no-code cloud-based BPM solution allows you to specify where your documents should be stored either on the cloud or on your premises. The centralized data hub in Cflow gives access to the document for the involved anywhere and anytime. You can even access them offline and online storage reduces data search time. You can even get to know the different versions of a document reducing the confusion in managing the document. With the Cflow workflow, you never have to wait for approval even when a reviewer is enjoying his vacation! 

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Key Takeaways:

  • The visual workflow builder in Cflow allows you to custom-create your workflows for document routing and approval with the intrusive drag-and-drop interface.
  • The centralized data management workflow is encrypted and stored in the cloud at the highest level of security and reliability. Vacations and delegations ensure timely approval at times of reviewer on leave by escalating them to another intended.
  • The sophisticated rules engine lets you define your own set of rules to design your workflows at various stages of document routing and approval. With the rules engine, you can enable the workflow drive between different task stages based on the rules without any friction in the process.  You can either define rules or make use of an already-built workflow to suit your needs and requirements in Cflow.
  • Now or never goes well with timely notifications. A delayed notification does the same as a never sent notification in some critical cases. Only timely notifications save businesses. The built-in notification system in Cflow pushes the notification when approval is queued due to the absence of the reviewer; it automatically issues reminders to the manager, the higher authority, to manually delegate the same to another co-worker.  
  • The notifications can be email or text where you can customize the font style, color, and size. The approver can just click to approve or reject the document on the go.
  • With Cflow’s document approval workflow, stakeholders can track the progress of a document in real-time, seeing who has reviewed it and where it is in the approval process.
  • Stakeholders can receive notifications and alerts when a document is ready for review or approval, ensuring that they are aware of their responsibilities and can take action in a timely manner.
  • Cflow’s document approval workflow creates an audit trail, which tracks all actions taken on a document, including who reviewed and approved it, when it was approved, and any comments or feedback provided during the review process. This audit trail provides a record of the document’s approval history, which can be useful for compliance and legal purposes.
  • Document tracking with a document approval workflow in Cflow can facilitate collaboration among stakeholders, allowing them to share feedback and comments on the document as it moves through the approval process.
  • The data collected through Cflow document tracking can be used to generate reports and analytics, which can help organizations identify bottlenecks, improve efficiency, and optimize their document approval workflows.

Final Thoughts

Document routing and approval workflows are critical components of modern business operations, as they enable organizations to efficiently manage their documents and ensure that they are properly reviewed and approved. Digitizing business processes commences with digitizing their document-oriented processes. A BPM solution like Cflow can play a significant role in this process by automating many of the manual tasks associated with document routing and approval, enabling your businesses to track performance metrics, identify bottlenecks, and optimize their processes over time.

Route and approve your documents right with Cflow and set your business pace right by signing up now.

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