Approval Hell, Using Approvals as key business process control, Is it working for you?

In our auditing of various business process for our clients, it is a commonplace to find the use of Human Approval as key process control. Approval Process gives the assurance that a responsible human would act as a gatekeeper. It makes the engineering of the business process simple. Responsibility gets delegated to the Human, and it simplifies the software design. Our analysis shows approval system is often overused. Practically there is no transactional application that does not need an approval.

Few unsung heroes in the organization end up with a lot of these Approval emails. With limited information about the approval in the email and a large volume creates what we call “Approval Hell.” Word Cloud (1)

We found on “Worst Approval Days” few executives end up approving or viewing more than 100 critical notifications. Another important measure we found was, those executives who have  these Worst Approval Days are also most likely have high “Approval Decision Per Year Per Person.” Indication that they sustain high volume of approvals.

When faced to deal with a large amount of information, it is natural to have Information Blindness; Approvers go for the easy choice, just “Approve” the damn thing and get the people off the back.  In our studies, we found rejections are often less than 3% of the volume of the approval notifications. Around 2% of the notifications are forwarded. 95% of the notifications gets approved. When a busy approver receives a notification and people are chasing him, they are frantically swiping on the small screen to find that “Green” Button. If there are few rejections, isn’t it a sign, that it is either redundant or unreliable?

It brings us to an important question, Is your current Approval System working as an effective control? Are you living with Approval Hell? 

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