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Home|Nintex Blog|3 Stages of the Document Approval Process (With Workflow Templates)

3 Stages of the Document Approval Process (With Workflow Templates)

From documents going back-and-forth to chasing people for a response, delays and confusion can be common when it comes to reviewing and approving documents. Automating the approval process can reduce downtime and make for a more reliable system for everyone involved. And with review and approval workflow templates, you can get a tangible idea of the type of processes that make for an optimal approval process.

In this post, we’ll explore three different areas of the approval process and look at some workflow templates to make it as quick and painless as possible.

1.  Initial Request

The scenario:

Business-critical workflows often rely on prompt responses between workers to be efficient. So, when workers have to wait on responses for hours or even days, this can quickly become frustrating as they have to routinely chase and nudge higher-ups to respond.

For example:

A member of your sales team submits a new sales contract in the last week of the quarter, and they need a sales discount to be approved as soon as possible. The initial email they send may be followed by two, three, or four more reminders in the hope of getting a faster response. If this still doesn’t work, they might end up passing on a paper copy of the contract to the sales manager for review. Your sales team member now has multiple approval workflows all competing for the reviewer’s attention.

Solve with automated workflow templates:

By automating the approval process, your sales team member can expect more immediate responses and be confident that their approval requests will be dealt with the first time of asking. The workflow starts when the user enters a recipient email address and message to an online form and hits submit. The message is sent, along with some pre-formatted text, to the sales manager. The software can send reminders to the manager to ensure they respond as promptly as possible. When they do, an email is sent back to the sales team member telling them their email has been acted upon.

2.  Approval and Response

The scenario:

As much as automation can improve certain processes, some workflows don’t benefit from full automation. In some instances, a ‘hybrid’ workflow system is more beneficial, where most of the process is automated but the user is responsible for an ultimate judgement call.

For example:

A member of the sales team is looking to send some promotional material to a customer. But the email requires approval to check the discount offer matches the length of time the recipient has been a customer (i.e. first-time buyer versus valued customer). A manual approval process can be inconsistent as each request and response will be handled in a slightly different manner, which can result in lost time and missed opportunities.

Solve with automated workflow templates:

Workflow automation can enable consistency here, where every request for information is met with a best practice response. Again, the user fills in an online form and clicks submit, and a pre-formatted email is sent to the reviewer asking them to approve or reject. If approved, the email is sent on to the customer and the sales team member is notified via email. If rejected, the workflow sends the user an email explaining the decision.

3.  Multiple Reviewers

The scenario:

For quality control or for the sake of another perspective, the approval process may involve discussions between two or more reviewers. But as more people are added to the review process, the workflow lengthens and more breakpoints may appear.

For example:

A bid manager is looking to submit a business proposal to a government agency, but for quality control purposes wants the document to be reviewed by their manager and an external specialist. They need to integrate with a document management system to ensure consistency and compliancy when reviewing sensitive information both inside and outside the company.

Solve with automated workflow templates:

With cloud-based workflows, connecting users in the approval process is easy. The bid manager fills in an online form and clicks submit to confirm that they have started an approval workflow. The workflow will send the business proposal to ‘Reviewer A’ to review.

The shortest journey the approval request can take is:

  • ‘Reviewer A’ approves the business proposal
  • The workflow sends the proposal to ‘Reviewer B’, who also approves
  • An email is sent to the bid manager confirming their proposal is ready to deliver

But the workflow can also go back-and-forth between both reviewers until the decision is unanimous:

  • ‘Reviewer A’ does not approve the business proposal
  • The workflow sends the proposal back to the bid manager with comments on how they should revise the document
  • The business proposal is updated and sent back to ‘Reviewer A’, who approves
  • The workflow sends the proposal to ‘Reviewer B’
  • ‘Reviewer B’ does not approve, and leaves further comments
  • The proposal is sent back to ‘Reviewer A’
  • This continues until both reviewers agree to either send the proposal back to the bid manager for review, or to deliver the document to the government agency

Workflow Templates to Improve Your Business Processes

By identifying and removing the unnecessary or repetitive steps in the review and approval (and many other) processes, automated workflows can enable significant improvements to worker productivity. But knowing how to build workflows specific to your own business processes is not easy.

Nintex is a ‘drag-and-drop’ workflow platform that makes creating automated workflows much easier. And workflow templates make building workflows even more simple—just drag and drop your specifics into a pre-structured workflow.


Nintex provides workflow templates for the approval process and many more in the Nintex Training Space. Check out the templates here. If you want to learn more about workflow templates, you can get in touch with us today!



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