Approval Workflows

What are Approval Workflows?

An approval workflow routes a document or other item to one or more people for approval or rejection. The approval steps in the workflow establish standard automation that streamlines communication and reduces the backlog on needed approvals.

Automated workflow approvals can improve your sales and quoting processes and help your sales team to close more deals faster by reducing errors. In addition, by helping streamline team members’ workflow, automation will minimize revenue leakage, enforce accountability and timeliness, and improve internal communications.


  • Approval process workflow
  • Automated approvals
  • Approval workflow engine

Types of Approval Workflows

Approval workflows in sales operations can keep internal communications moving along and speed up communication with deal stakeholders. Here are examples of the types of sales approval workflows that Sales Operations teams manage.

Discount approval workflow: To ensure that everyone is in agreement with a new contract when a customer requests discounting, a salesperson can initiate a discount approval workflow.

Sales quotation approval workflow: This workflow ensures that quotes are accurate, complete, and meet customer requirements. It may involve approvals from sales managers or other departments like finance for large deals.

Billing approval workflow: When billing adjustments are needed, this workflow minimizes errors and increases efficiency.

Legal or compliance approval workflow: Contract review and approval is a necessary part of the sales process to ensure all deals meet standard business requirements and regulatory policies.

Discount approval workflow

How Approval Workflows Work in Sales Operations

Sales Operations relies heavily on approval workflows to navigate the various steps involved in closing deals. These workflows typically begin with the creation of a sales quote or proposal by the salesperson. The document is then routed electronically to designated approvers, who might include sales managers, deal desk teams, and legal or finance departments, depending on the deal’s complexity and specific requirements. Each approver has the ability to review the document, provide feedback, or grant final approval. The workflow automatically tracks the progress and notifies relevant individuals at each stage, ensuring transparency and accountability throughout the process. This streamlined approach eliminates the need for manual routing and chasing approvals, allowing sales teams to focus on building relationships and closing deals instead of navigating internal hurdles.

Elements of an Approval Process Workflow

Key components of an approval process workflow include the tasks, actions, approvers, permissions, timelines, notifications, and tracking:

  • Tasks and Actions: What needs to be done and by whom?
  • Approvers: Individuals responsible for approving.
  • Permissions: Who has the authority to approve or reject?
  • Timelines: Deadlines associated with each step.
  • Notifications: Alerts sent to keep everyone informed.
  • Tracking and Logging: Monitoring the progress and history of the workflow.

An approval workflow process follows a sequence of steps similar to these:

Step 1: Select a Workflow Type, Get Approval or Collect Feedback.

One example would be a salesperson who would like to approve a discount on a product for a client.

Step 2: Select a file to get approval

Select a file and then “Get Approval” from the Workflow menu, then reviewers can either approve, request edits, reject your file, or choose another option. Due dates allow you to track how long it takes to finish tasks. Add each additional reviewer by assigning them to your document.

Step 3: Necessary documents are sent to reviewers who will approve, reject, or hold for further discussion.

Step 4: The salesperson who initiated the workflow will receive email notification of the approval status and the next steps. In the case of a discount approval, the sales rep is free to move forward with the discount.

Common Approval Workflow Issues

One of the most common issues during an approval workflow is when an approver changes the document they are supposed to be approving. This can cause confusion and delays in the approval process and lead to incorrect or incomplete approvals.

Another common issue is when approvers do not have access to the document they are supposed to approve. This can be due to security restrictions or simply because the approver does not have the correct permissions. 

Another issue can occur when an approver approves a document but later realizes that they made a mistake. This can be due to incorrect information, misinterpreting the document, or forgetting to check something. 

Finally, another common issue is when an approver does not receive a notification about a document that needs to be approved. This can be due to various reasons, such as the approver’s email address being incorrect or the notification being blocked by a spam filter.

These issues can be resolved with automated approval workflows that trigger events as documents go through the approval process, resulting in a frictionless sales process.

How to Select Approval Workflow Software

Automated approval workflows should integrate with the CRM platform you are already using, such as Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Approval workflow tools should have the following features:

  • Automated approvals alerts: Every enterprise can automate its approval processes by notifying the appropriate people when there’s a need for manual input or reviews.
  • Code-free workflow applications: Leading workflow applications allow nontechnical users to automate aspects of their workflows, including filling out forms, scheduling tasks, and responding to email messages.
  • Both online and offline access: Authorized employees can use cloud-based workflow software anywhere with an Internet connection, while offline access makes it easier for them to complete their tasks when they’re away from a networked computer.
  • Distribution automation: Workflow software allows people to share documents with others by giving them access, permissions, and keeping track of changes.
  • Signature collection: Workflow management applications can help streamline the process of collecting legally binding signatures on documents by automating signature capture and verification.

How to Design an Approval Workflow

An approval workflow is a series of actions that must be completed to approve or reject a request. The steps may vary depending on the type of request, but typically include collecting information from relevant parties, making a decision, and communicating the results.

When designing an approval workflow process, there are a few things to consider:

  • Who needs to be involved?
  • What information needs to be collected?
  • How will the decision be made?
  • How will the results be communicated?

Each step in the workflow should be clearly defined, and who is responsible for each task should be clear. Additionally, there should be a way to track the progress of the request through the workflow so that everyone involved knows where it is in the process.

A preliminary step toward selecting and setting up workflow management software involves breaking down the workflow into a series of tasks and processes.

Define the Approval Starting Points

The approval process starts with submitting documents such as sales proposals or quotes, invoices, purchase orders, and contracts. 

Define the Workflow

There are several different types of workflows, classified into one of these two groups:

  • Parallel. With this method, a series of steps are tackled at once to move the task toward its conclusion. For example, employee onboarding usually requires several tasks to be completed simultaneously.
  • Sequential. In a sequential workflow (or sequence), a rules-driven workflow proceeds along a sequential path based upon which rules get triggered. For example, a loan application goes through a sequential workflow, completing each step before the next one begins. 

Define the Approval Conditions

One of the most critical components of an approval workflow is the approval conditions. These are the criteria used to approve or reject an output. 

In the example of the vacation workflow, approval conditions might be things like whether or not the employee is available, whether he or she will be urgently needed during that time, or how many other people will be on vacation at the same time. In a content approval workflow, approval conditions could include having proper grammar and spelling, meeting the required word count, or fulfilling the assignment request.

Define the Results

The results component of an action item is the action taken based on the workflow results. For example, in the case of a sales quote approval workflow, it might be the approval or rejection of a contract.

After determining steps in the workflow, you will have the necessary information to automate your approval workflows.

Benefits Of Using Approval Workflow Software

A workflow defines the steps for an approval process, sets up a hierarchy within the team, and ensures everyone knows who has It helps everyone stay focused on their tasks. Other benefits include:

Improved Efficiency

Approval workflow software is designed to streamline the process of approving documents or other items. By automating the approval process, this type of software can improve efficiency and accuracy while reducing the need for manual intervention.

One of the benefits of using approval workflow software is that it can help to ensure that all necessary approvals are obtained promptly. This can be particularly important when deadlines need to be met or items need to be approved by multiple parties.

Another benefit of approval workflow software is that it can help to reduce the likelihood of errors. By automating the approval process, this type of software can help to ensure that all approvals are entered correctly and that no information is missed. This can help to save time and frustration when it comes to correcting errors.

Approval workflow automation can also help to improve communication between parties. This type of software can make it easier to track items’ status and ensure that all parties are aware of the latest developments by providing a central location for approvals. This can help to avoid misunderstandings and delays.


Approval workflow software is critical for ensuring consistency in any organization. Automating the process of approvals ensures that all decisions are made following company policy. Approval workflow automation also eliminates the need for manual review and approval of documents, which can often lead to inconsistency.

Reduced Bottlenecks

Bottlenecks can be a major source of frustration. They can cause delays, hamper productivity, and lead to revenue leakage. Thankfully, approval workflow software provides a way to reduce bottlenecks and keep business operations running smoothly by automating the process of approvals. For example, the software can distribute requests to multiple approvers simultaneously rather than relying on a single person to approve every request.

In addition, you can customize approval workflow software to fit the specific needs of your business. For example, you can specify how many approvers are needed for each type of request and set up alerts to notify you when a request is waiting for approval. This level of customization ensures that your approval process is as efficient as possible.

Places Guardrails on Deals

Sales approval workflow software provides guardrails for companies by establishing approval processes for deals. This ensures that product configurations, pricing, and discounts comply with company policy and that no deal is finalized without the proper approvals. By automating sales approval workflows, companies can avoid costly mistakes and ensure all deals are vetted before being finalized.

Speeds Up the Sales Cycle

Approvals are often tedious and time-consuming. They require people to review documents, sign off on them, and send them out. But if you make it easier for people to approve things, you speed up the sales cycle and optimize revenue. An added benefit of a faster sales cycle is increased sales rep and customer satisfaction.

Benefits Of Using Approval Workflow Software

Take Your Deal Approval Workflows to the Next Level

A standardized, optimized, and efficient deal approval process for your business is vital in improving its productivity and optimizing revenue. 

DealHub CPQ enables sales operations teams to easily implement deal approval workflows so all quotes and proposals adhere to company guidelines and quickly move through the sales cycle. The DealHub platform makes it easy to collaborate with stakeholders and ensures everyone stays on the same page. In addition, it saves time and effort by eliminating manual data entry and approval tracking. With an automated approval process, your sales reps can close deals faster.

People Also Ask

Why are approval workflows important?

There are many reasons why deal approval workflows are important. The primary reason is that they help to ensure that all deals are properly vetted and approved before being finalized. This helps to protect the company from any potential risks associated with a particular deal.

Another reason why deal approval workflows are so important is that they can help to streamline the entire process. By having a clear and well-defined workflow, all stakeholders involved in a deal will know exactly what needs to be done and when. This can help avoid any delays or confusion that could derail a deal.

Ultimately, deal approval workflows are vital because they maximize sales efficiency and accelerate revenue.

What is an approval workflow engine?

The approval workflow engine (AWE) is an application that provides the framework and capability for creating, running, or managing business processes. The engine uses a set of database objects combined with an application component setting to determine how to process approval requests using a workflow.

What are the differences between workflows and the approval process?

There are a few key differences between workflows and approval processes that are worth noting. For one, workflows often involve more than just approvals – they can also include tasks, notifications, and other automation steps. On the other hand, approval processes are only for managing approvals.

It’s worth noting that approval processes are often used in conjunction with workflows. In approval process automation, an approval process will be triggered by a workflow.