Your company’s highest value employees are your managers and executives, yet they spend hours every month dealing with approvals – POs, invoices, time-off requests, timesheets, and more. These approval processes are clunky and inconsistent across all the different applications and they’re a burden to managers. And worse, they slow down your organization, impacting the business.
One of the more common ways of dealing with an approval request is via email, where the backend application triggers an automated email to the approver along with some pertinent information, and a link to the source application with the complete request details. The approver can then review the summary information, click on the link to bring up the application, and deal with the request. In theory, email-based approvals sounds like a good approach, but in reality it’s flawed and ineffective. Here are the top 5 reasons why:
- Approval requests get lost in the sea of emails
If you happen to be in front of your computer or smartphone at the moment an approval request email comes in, you may or may not deal with it right away, but you at least know it’s there. However, given that the average manager receives over 100 emails a day, most of the time these approval request emails are simply lost in the inbox clutter and missed altogether. This is one of the primary reasons why approval cycle times are so long – managers simply have no idea others are even waiting on them.
- No easy way to view the entire set of pending approval requests
Each business application that triggers an approval request email has its own “sender”, and this makes sorting and filtering the emails almost impossible from across the different applications (e.g., Oracle, SAP, Concur, Coupa, Workday etc..). And even if the manager was able to sort or filter the emails from their inbox, they still don’t have any easy way of prioritizing them from a business perspective, say for example from the highest to lowest dollar amount for the PO requests.
- Email notification doesn’t remove the need to access multiple applications
Email merely serves to notify the user of a pending approval request. Most of the time though, the user still has to log in to the backend application (remembering different usernames and passwords for each), navigate to the specific request, read a form littered with dozens of fields of data, and then make an approve or reject decision. Again, this normally takes time and is an unwanted hassle for most. What makes it even worse is when the user is forced to use an application they’re either unfamiliar with or use infrequently, for example an R&D Manager approving a purchase request in a procurement system.
- Increased risk of phishing attack
InfoSec teams are constantly educating corporate employees on the best practices of dealing with emails with embedded URLs due to the security risk of phishing attacks. Phishing aims to trick the user into clicking a link which leads to a website that is either infected with malware or captures their sensitive data. The auto-generated emails from the backend applications don’t help the cause as they have bizarre-sounding sender names, poorly formatted data, and a long and obscure URL within the body of the email.
- Direct responses to email are fragile and unreliable
I should point out that some approval emails do allow the user to “reply” to them in order to approve or reject the request. But here too, we see many inconsistencies, mainly with older legacy applications, that make it unreliable for all but the most simplistic of requests such as a time off request. Examples of these problems include:
- The approver doesn’t use the exact word of phase to commit the request
- The approver accidentally changes the email subject text
- The approver’s email client encrypts the response email
- The format of the email request gets changed by the email client from HTML to Plain Text
- The auto-appended signature of the approver’s email causes the backend application to throw an exception
At Capriza we believe that handling approvals should be fast and simple. We approach this challenge in a completely different way, as follows:
- Consolidate approvals from all the different systems regardless of whether they’re cloud-based, on-prem, or homegrown.
- Accelerate the decision-making cycle times by using push rather than email so managers have immediate access to approvals awaiting their attention.
- Deliver a fast, simple, and intuitive mobile experience for anytime, anywhere access.