BPMN Approval Process Flow – Approval Workflow Examples

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BPMN Approval Process Flow

Mapping a management approval process flow helps organisations to become more efficient by providing a clear and concise approval process. It helps employees to consistently follow business rules and procedures to reduce human error and business risk.

The following article will help you to map your workflow approval process that is unique to the way your business works. To help you map your own workflow approval process flow(s), the associated workbook can be used as a starting point and help you to identify key workflows and areas that need to be streamlined through workflow automation.

The BPMN Approval Process Flow workbook includes:

  • What is workflow?
  • What is approval workflow?
  • Common approval workflow processes
  • Mapping an approval process flow
  • Management approval process examples; Purchase requisition approval, discount approval, expense approval and holiday approval
  • How to improve an approval process
  • How to create approval workflow

Get started on mapping your BPMN approval process flows by downloading the Approval Process Flow Workbook below.

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What is Workflow?

Workflow is a series of tasks, events and interactions where each step is reliant on the previous action. This series of tasks, events and interactions build a workflow process that define business rules and procedures. Once a workflow process has been established it will help an organisation to operate efficiently and effectively.

Planning a workflow process can provide you with a structured overview of the tasks that need to be performed, who is responsible for each step within the process and how long each task can take. Effective workflow is one of the key contributing factors to improving company performance, which, for many organisations, can be a manual process that is time-consuming and prone to errors.

For a small organisation, workflow may not be a problem. However, for growing and larger businesses, having to rely on employees to adhere to business rules and manual procedures may put the organisation at risk. If a workflow process is handled incorrectly and the wrong decision is made it may have a negative impact on your business and its performance. An efficient way to improve workflow processes is through workflow approval automation. An automated workflow process will aid decision making with single and multi-level approvals, and streamline the entire workflow process.

What is Approval Workflow?

Within a workflow process, decision making plays a vital role in the performance of an organisation. In many instances, a business process will require a final workflow authorisation before the series of tasks are complete. A final workflow approval is often completed by a director, head of department or pre-appointed employee.

In some situations, a workflow process can have a negative effect on an organisation. If an issue arises within the workflow approval process flow, or an authorisation isn’t granted within the required timeframe, it can have an impact on employees and departments may not be able to complete the tasks required. If a step within a workflow process is delayed it can impact planning, production, sales and distribution and customer relationships.

Depending on the task in hand, a workflow approval process may require single or multi-level approval. For example, an approval level exceeding a line managers authorisation level, such as a large purchase order or a sale above agreed discount levels. This can result in additional manual administration and an extended approval process.

Common approval workflow processes include:

  • Purchase Order Approval: Unauthorised purchases (exceeding agreed limits), unauthorised suppliers (with incentive programmes), unauthorised purchases that have not received multiple sign offs and purchases exceeding agreed departmental budgets.
  • Discount Approval: A sales team member applies an unauthorised discount to close a sale, employee churn can result in a prospect receiving multiple discounts if the authorisation process is not structured, effectively recorded and auditable.
  • Expense Approval: Miscategorised or dressed up expenses e.g. personal meals, a falsified expenses claim through self-created documents, inflated expenses (e.g. submitting £1000 of materials), returning £500 worth and getting a new receipt for £500 for the employee to submit the first receipt.
  • Compliance Approval: Authorisation of foreign worker start date (e.g. have the necessary certificates to work in the UK been submitted), authorisation of product shipments and completed quality assurance checks, holiday approvals, credit limit adjustment approval.

Learn how approval software can help improve the management of approvals by downloading the brochure below.

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Mapping a BPMN Approval Process Flow: Workflow Diagram Examples

Mapping a management approval process can help a business to clearly define a workflow process to improve employee and company performance. The overall aim of a process flow is to identify and detail the exact business process that the company should implement and follow.

Once a BPMN approval process has been established, it will help you to detect potential process bottlenecks and areas that need modification or business process automation.

The following workflow diagram examples will help you to have an overview of some typical approval process flows that can help your business to highlight key areas that require workflow automation or modification, and ultimately improve performance.

Get started on mapping your BPMN approval process flows by downloading the Approval Process Flow Workbook below.

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Purchase Requisition Approval Process

The following purchase approval process approval workflow example details a typical purchase requisition approval, starting from employee submitting a purchase requisition for manager or director approval.

  1. Employee raises and submits a purchase requisition to the line manager.
  2. The line manager reviews the purchase requisition to either approve or reject. If all information is correct, and the business rule criteria is met, the purchase requisition is sent for approval.
  3. If information is missing, the purchase requisition is sent back to the employee to update with the relevant information.
  4. Once the line manager has approved the purchase requisition it needs to be determined if it falls in line with agreed credit limits. If it does, the purchase requisition is approved.
  5. If the requisition is above agreed credit limits it is sent for director approval. This is known as multi-level approval. Director either approves, rejects or returns the requisition for re-submission.
purchase requisition process example

Diagram: Purchase requisition process flow

Map your purchase requisition process by downloading the Approval Process Flow Workbook below.

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Sales Quote Discount Approval Process

The following approval workflow example details a typical sales quote with discount approval, starting from employee submitting a sales quote with a discount for manager approval.

  1. Employee raises and submits a sales quote to the line manager.
  2. The line manager reviews the sales quote and discount level to either approve or reject.
  3. If all information is correct, and the discount meets agreed levels, the sales quote is sent for approval and an approved notification is sent.
  4. If the sales quote contains a discount above agreed levels, it is processed as rejected, with either a rejected notification being sent or to be resubmitted with a revised discount level.
discount approval process  example

Diagram: Discount approval process flow

Map your sales quote discount approval process by downloading the Approval Process Flow Workbook below.

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Holiday Approval Process

The following compliance approval process workflow diagram details a typical holiday approval, starting from employee request to manager and HR approval.

  1. Employee submits a holiday request to the line manager.
  2. The line manager reviews the holiday request to either approve or reject. If the holiday request is rejected, the request is sent back to the employee to modify the dates for them to re-submit for further approval.
  3. Upon holiday approval from the line manager, it is sent to HR to be confirmed and processed.
  4. Final confirmation is sent to the employee and their line manager.
holiday approval example

Diagram: Holiday approval process

Map your holiday approval process by downloading the BPMN Approval Process Flow Workbook below.

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Expense Approval Process

The following management approval process details a typical expense approval, starting from employee request to manager and finance department approval.

  1. Employee completes and submits expenses form to the line manager.
  2. The line manager reviews the expenses form to either approve or reject. If the expenses form is rejected, the request is sent back to the employee to modify the dates for them to re-submit for further approval.
  3. Upon approval from the line manager, it is sent to the finance department to review.
  4. If the expenses form is rejected, an email notification is sent to the employee / line manager for further action.
  5. If the expenses form is accepted, it is processed accordingly and a payment notification is sent to the employee.
expense approval process example

Diagram: Expense approval process flow

Map your expense approval process by downloading the workbook below.

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How to Improve a Management Approval Process

An approval workflow can consist of single or multiple levels of authorisations. Regardless of how simple or complex an approval process workflow is, they can be prone to errors and have a negative effect on business performance. Implementing a management approval process with enforced workflow rules, systems and auditability can help an organisation to improve decision making and company performance.

Workflow Rules

Establishing workflow rules is critical to any approval process and, if already in existence, they should be reviewed periodically. Ask questions such as:

  • Does this authorisation impact on production, performance or productivity?
  • Should this approval be countersigned?
  • Should certain workflow approvals be processed within an agreed time period e.g. raw material purchases so that production timetables are not affected?
  • Should particular criteria trigger a further layer of authorisation?

Clearly defining these workflow rules and, more importantly, the impact of them not being adhered to, is fundamental to establishing smooth flowing authorisation processes.

Workflow Approval Software

All successful approval flows are driven by approval workflow solutions, such as ApproverPro. They provide the consistency that workflow authorisations require. They also ensure complex business rules can be enforced in all eventualities. Multi-level contribution, mobile working, escalations, and process mapping, are all characteristics of a robust workflow system.

Auditability

Reporting on or auditing approvals should not be reserved for those occasions where an error has occurred. Post-mortems of poor decisions do have a place, but many organisations will regularly audit authorisations. Without a fit for purpose approval workflow engine, auditing approvals can potentially include analysing emails, taking verbal statements, contacting third parties and time-consuming paper trail investigations. More importantly, all these audit methods are open to manipulations. Defining the methods of decision auditing and reporting are often overlooked by organisations, despite it being fundamental to establishing robust authorisation processes.

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How to Create an Approval Workflow

Approval workflow engines, such as ApproverPro, provide you with a cost-effective, secure and mobile-ready solution to quickly and easily create workflow approvals. The associated step-by-step guide will help you to create workflow approvals for practically any business authorisation requirement, such as single or multi-level authorisation workflows and escalations, for purchase orders, quotes, credit limit reviews and discounts within ApproverPro.

In addition to the workflow approval process flow workbook, you can start to create approval workflows within ApproverPro by downloading the step-by-step guide below.

The creating approval workflows step-by-step guide includes:

  • Creating an approval process
  • Adding approval steps and escalations
  • Adding business rules to a workflow approval process

Try ApproverPro Request a Demo Step by Step Guide

For more information on how to streamline your workflow approval processes call us on +44 (0)330 99 88 700.

BPMN Approval Process Flow Workbook

BPMN Approval Process Flow Workbook

Learn how to map approval process flows to become more efficient and provide a clear and concise approval process.

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