Email vs workflow: optimize your document approval process

Work process
Tuesday 11 April 2023 
Elsa Benaiche Elsa Benaiche
2 minutes
Email vs workflow: optimize your document approval process

In a business, numerous documents have to be submitted for approval: sales proposals, HR contracts, invoices… For team members this involves multiple email exchanges and having to systematically check that documents have been approved.

To avoid this toing and froing and improve the efficiency of the process, it is essential to use an up to date and powerful workflow tool which provides numerous advantages: reduction in errors, time saved, improved collaboration…

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Read about the challenges of approving business documents and how workflow tools can optimize the process.

Emails: the challenges of approving documents

Guarantee the quality of information

For a document to be approved, it must be sent to the person in charge of approbation. If it is not approved, changes and/or revisions will have to be made before resending the document for validation.

email vs workflow image

Far too often this process involves multiple manual interventions: changing the document several times, renaming it, adding it as an attachment to a new email… This increases the risk of producing several versions of the same document which in turn creates errors: sending the wrong version of the document, error in the name of the file sent, incomplete and/or incorrect information…

Tracking email exchanges

In a document approval process, multiplying contributors and interactions can quickly become counterproductive.

For example, if several contributors with different levels of responsibility have to approve the document: each person will have to check it, give their opinion and send multiple messages with very little added value: « ok », « message received », « thanks »… These messages pollute the inboxes of the recipients.

In a typical company, employees have on average over 200 received messages1 in their inbox, receive another 120 every day1 and only answer 25% of all messages1.

Find the right information

In a document validation process, employees must change the relevant document. To find the changes, they have no other option than to look through the previous versions of the document.

This involves a time-consuming process of searching for emails: entering the name of sender and/or the exact file name in the search bar, sorting through numerous search results, using filters…

This process wastes a considerable amount of time in the overall document approval process: on average employees spend 28% of their working hours2 managing their inbox and 20%2 looking for the right information.

Workflow tools: improve the efficiency of your document validation process

Workflow: definition

A workflow involves implementing « a sequence of steps » to move from the beginning to the end of a working process.

Validation workflow is a type of workflow that allows you to organize and automate the validation stages of a document.

The benefits of a workflow tool

Better definition of user rights and roles

A workflow tool improves collaboration between the various contributors involved in the creation of a document. Through a unique interface, each contributor has a specific role and can, depending on their user rights, annotate, comment on and/or correct the document.

workflow user rights and roles

This tool can also improve the flow of exchanges and improve efficiency. For each problem raised, a notification is sent automatically by email to the relevant contributor so that they can connect quickly to the interface and resolve the issue.

Real time tracking of the document completion progress

Workflow tools provide better visibility of a document's progress through validation.

The employees involved in the document approval process have a global view of the tasks to be accomplished to achieve the validation. Through the various status indicators (for correction, awaiting approval, approved…), they can monitor all the steps in the document's progress. When the document's workflow status changes, an email is sent automatically to the relevant contributor who can monitor each step in real time.

PIM: an effective workflow tool for approving your documents

To increase the efficiency of their document validation process, many companies use workflow tools: 36% of businesses2 use them on a daily basis.

One of these tools is PIM (Product Information Management). PIM solutions have advanced workflow and user right features to increase the efficiency of document validation processes. The PIM solution organizes the user rights and roles of several contributors (proofreading, correction, validation…), facilitating optimal control over information quality and real time visibility over the progress of documents through validation.

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1 Plummer, M. (2019, January 22). How to Spend Way Less Time on Email Every Day. Harvard Business Review.
2 The social economy : Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies. McKinsey & Company.
3 50+ Workflow Automation Statistics & Trends for 2023 - Kissflow. (2023, January 26). Kissflow, Inc.

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