- Oct 1, 2018,
One of the biggest challenges corporations face is simplifying complex processes that make the business run. The reason this is a challenge is that these complexities rarely came to be all at once. Rather, years of slight iterations, changes, and new requirements add up to create an unwieldy mess that barely resembles the function that was originally required. One of the most aggravating – and heartbreaking – results of this kind of evolution in any business is that it feels like an impossible task to reverse course and simplify things. But just as “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step,” the journey to make corporate systems less complicated and cumbersome can begin with a small, yet meaningful, change.
How Approvals Got So Complicated in the First Place
But first let’s examine and understand how companies find themselves in this systemic quagmire in the first place. For example, take the approvals process. In the early days of a business the approvals process is simple. A worker asks if they can take next Monday off as a personal day. Their manager approves the day off by an email reply or even a simple “sure, sounds good.” All is well. Then the company grows a little and it becomes important to make sure everyone at the company knows who will be in and out of the office each day. After all, if an employee is gone then someone else needs to fill in for them…right? So the previously simple approval process becomes more complex: time off requests have to go into a shared calendar. Still pretty simple, right? But complexity has reared its ugly head, if only a little. And it’s about to get much worse…
Time passes and the company continues to grow. Now, time off requests need to be approved by a manager, go into the calendar, and make their way to the human-resources department to be properly entered as “vacation” into the payroll system. Next up, IT needs to add a better layer of security to all internal systems including these approvals. So on and so forth until what used to be an intuitive and easy process is now more complex and more integrated with other systems across the organization.
Considering that all of these integrations are essential, how in the world is even the most well-meaning executive supposed to start unspooling things and make the system simple? What options are there when so many systems are part of day-to-day operations and trying to rip any one of them out for replacement would cause substantial disruption across the business?
Consolidation as the Key to Simplification
It’s a fair question and one that we answer on a regular basis. The answer? Consolidation. But unlike consolidation that removes deeply-entrenched systems and tools – which feels impractical in this case – we encourage consolidation that brings disparate systems and tools to the same interface. That way, even if an organization needs to have a different system for purchase orders and invoices and a different system for time off requests and a different system for hiring and a different system for inventory allocation…everything can be managed in one interface.
The advantages to this type of consolidation are many. Consider:
- Reduced training time – Instead of having to onboard managers and directors onto a wide range of approvals systems, a consolidation tool like ApproveSimple means having just one tool to train them on. Training time can be used to focus on mission critical tasks and helping drive the business forward instead of being used to train new team members on yet another internal system.
- Increased visibility into all approvals – Sometimes approvers forget to check one system on a regular basis. Invoices age or time-off requests are ignored not out of neglect but simply because complexity makes it difficult to remember every system requiring attention. The simplification brought on through consolidation means nothing gets overlooked.
- Reduced IT-burden – How much time are IT departments spending helping users reset usernames and passwords across different systems? It’s an unfortunate byproduct of having too many software applications used for approvals. Asking approvers to remember multiple logins is a pain, and solving it most often falls on an already-busy IT team. By consolidating all systems under one interface, this burden disappears. Users simply need to remember one username and password.
- Decreased approval times – Perhaps most important, simplification of the approval process means less wasted time across your organization. Instead of logging in and out of different systems or missing approvals all together, your managers and executives can use one system to quickly and easy handle approvals then get back to other meaningful work.
- Increased workplace happiness – Surveys show that submitting and approving expenses, time off requests, purchase orders, and invoices have a decidedly negative impact on workplace moral. Put bluntly, people simply do not like pulling themselves away from interesting or meaningful work to do their part in the approval process.
Bringing it All Together to Simplify the Approvals Process
Simplification of the approval process isn’t an insurmountable challenge. It simply requires a new way of thinking: instead of replacing the systems that are so entrenched in your enterprise already, find ways to make them easier to use. Additionally, it’s important to recognize that there are tools like Capriza ApproveSimple that provide plug-and-play functionality and work with your existing systems.
Trying to find simplicity by removing systems is a noble goal. It’s also expensive and – ironically – quite complicated. Instead we recommend finding lightweight tools that make your existing systems easier to use without sacrificing security or negatively impacting core systems. To learn more about how Capriza can help, or see a demo of ApproveSimple, contact us here. Finding simplicity doesn’t have to be complicated. At Capriza, we can help you make sure it’s not.