Document Approval Workflow Challenges + How To Address Them

Challenges of an Inefficient Document Approval Workflow

Document Approval Workflow Challenges + How To Address Them | B2BE

What document approval workflow challenges are businesses facing? We explore some key challenges from too many steps, time constraints, and more.

Document approval can sometimes be likened to a maze because it requires asking around to find out the right stakeholders to speak to. It can end up taking a lot of time to reach the final approval stage. Therefore, it is necessary to have a proper document approval workflow so that time can be saved and utilised on more important tasks.

Efficiency is now needed more than ever for businesses to be on equal playing fields with their competitors. Yet, many businesses still struggle with document approval workflows. It is crucial to get your processes in line, especially since document approval is part of every business no matter what industry.

To shed light on this challenge, we asked our followers on LinkedIn about their main challenges of an inefficient document approval workflow.

What are the main challenges of an inefficient document approval workflow?

The main challenges are:

  • Time-consuming
  • Too many steps
  • Other
  • Difficult to manage

Watch our video below:


Firstly, a significant 60% of respondents cited “time-consuming” as the main challenge of an inefficient document approval workflow. This isn’t surprising considering the multitude of steps involved in traditional approval processes, which often require manual intervention. The time wasted in waiting for approvals, chasing down stakeholders, and reconciling feedback can add up quickly, therefore leading to delays and missed deadlines.

Addressing this challenge requires businesses to get a proper approval workflow with clear deadlines and escalation procedures together. Establishing these rules and directions reduces confusion among both new and existing employees alike, speeding up the entire approval process.

Too many steps

30% of participants highlighted “too many steps” as a significant issue in inefficient document approval workflows. Complex approval workflows with excessive stages not only prolong the process but also increase the likelihood of errors and bottlenecks. Some approvers might not even realise they are part of the decision-making process until employees ask them for a signature.

Implementing a lean approval process with clear, predefined steps and roles can help minimise frustration and accelerate decision-making. It is also important for stakeholders to be aligned with their roles in the approval process so that they can contribute effectively when the time comes. With all those solutions in mind, businesses should conduct a thorough review of their approval processes every year or so. This will depend on how often new stakeholders are added, to identify opportunities for streamlining and optimisation.


10% of respondents chose “other” as their main challenge. This suggests that there may be additional factors contributing to the inefficiency of document approval workflows.

Businesses should often check for feedback with their stakeholders to discover any gaps that should be addressed. It can just be in the form of a quarterly email survey or if a company has the time and resources, conducting one-to-one interviews would be helpful to get proper insights directly.

Difficult to manage

Interestingly, none of the respondents selected “difficult to manage”. This could indicate that while document approval workflows may be time-consuming and complex, they are not necessarily difficult to oversee or administer. However, it’s essential to note that effective management practices, such as clear communication, defined roles and responsibilities, and proper tracking systems, are still crucial for ensuring the smooth operation of approval processes. Leveraging project management tools and collaboration platforms can make it easier for managers to see the approval process and identify issues promptly.

Learn more about B2BE’s Document Workflow solution.

More information

B2BE’s experience in the supply chain sector allows our customers to build, expand and adapt successfully, enabling greater effectiveness. To engage with B2BE and offer feedback on what matters most to you and your business, make sure to follow us on LinkedIn and across social media. You can also vote in our latest LinkedIn poll. If you’d like to discuss your supply chain strategy, get in touch with us.

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