Operational Drag – Why Managers are Buried in Approvals & How Much Time is Wasted

  • Jun 8, 2018,
  • By Jeneane Crawford

Whenever I meet with prospects and customers and the topic of corporate approvals comes up, there’s always that collective groan and rolling of the eyes. It seems it’s a universal phenomena – it really doesn’t matter where the company resides, its size, or the nature of its business. Managers and executives really don’t like doing approvals. In fact, they don’t even like talking about doing approvals!

One very frank prospect recently told me that some managers in his organization are so fed up of constantly being a bottleneck in the process that they just blindly approve all their requests without even actually looking at the data. If you’re in charge of corporate compliance, that’s a pretty worrying state of affairs.

Over the last year, we’ve spent a lot of time digging into the approvals processes to better understand why they are viewed so negatively, and it boils down to the fact that users are inconvenienced when doing approvals, and the time spent doesn’t justify that inconvenience.

Approving a single request is often an arduous process and requires: Digging up a lost email, clicking on an embedded link, logging in to the business application, navigating the application, accessing the request screen with dozens of fields of data, and making a decision. And when a user is not in the office, they’ve also got VPN to contend with to get on to the corporate network.

The above steps can actually take several minutes for just a single request – no big deal if you only have a few approvals each month. But most managers have many of these every month including POs, invoices, timesheets, expenses and PTO requests to name a few.



Kent Lyon, VP of Finance at RPC, a publicly held oilfield services company, shared an example where a District Manager had over 800 POs to approve in PeopleSoft in a single month, which he estimated had taken over 30 hours! And when you’re at a drill site, you’ve got really important field work to do, so the approvals had to be done at the expense of family time, in the evenings and at the weekend.

So what’s the cumulative time spent performing approvals across the entire organization, by all managers, and for all the different kinds of approvals?

Approvals Time Spend Model

Here’s a simple model to quantify this time spend:

  • Total number of employees in the organization: e
  • Average number of employees per manager: m
  • Average number of approval requests per manager per month: r
  • Average number of minutes to perform a single approval request: t

Accumulative Time Spent Per Month (Hrs.) = (e x r x t)/(60 x m)

By way of example, let’s take an organization with 5,000 employees, a ratio of 8 employees per manager, 20 approval requests per month for each manager, and a 3-minute time to approve:

Accumulative Time Spent Per Month (Hrs.) (5,000 x 20 x 3)/(60 x 8) = 625 hours

Think about it. 625 hours. That’s 15-person-weeks of work that is spent on approvals every month. That’s a lot of time, time that your highest value employees could be spending on much more strategic activities. That’s an example of what we call “Operational Drag”.

Capriza has a unique and innovative way to make approvals fast and simple. ApproveSimple transforms how corporate approvals are done by rapidly delivering a simple, consolidated experience for managers and executives on their mobile devices using existing business applications. With this approach, we can not only shave off a meaningful part of this wasted time, but also make it a significantly more pleasing experience for managers. Say goodbye to slow approvals.

In Part 2 of this blog, I’ll focus on the business impact of slow approvals cycles which is of even greater significance.

Jeneane Crawford

Jeneane leads demand generation initiatives at Capriza. Prior to joining Capriza, she marketed a diverse array of technologies for both large enterprises and start-ups.


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