Purchase Approvals: A Guide To Efficiency And Best Practices

Saying Yes Is Easy, Giving Approval Is Hard…

…at least when it comes to your business that is, this is because approval makes the person giving it responsible for any consequences that come out of the decision.

Medium to large businesses usually have comprehensive (and often complicated) approval processes for things such as purchase requisitions and orders.

A good approval process is essential for spend management as companies that don’t keep track of purchases run the risk of spending more than necessary. It’s a balancing act as too rigid a process will lead to decreased efficiency but too lax and mistakes may slip through.

There is a solution that directly addresses these problems, but before we get into that,  let’s look at some ways to make the approval process faster.

Making Approval Processes Work For You (And Not Against You)

Approval will always take some time, either short or long, depending on the company’s policies and practices, but one constant is that it will always take time.

A way that this time can be shortened is to have a good pre-approval checklist for employees to go through before submitting a purchase order to their supervisor.

This will allow the supervisor to process the request faster as they know that it’s already been checked against the list so they can better focus their review.

When Approvals Go Out Of Control

Another mistake that many businesses make is not having a set procedure for getting approval. Some businesses just tell employees to “get approval before any purchases” and leaves it at that. 

This leads to a really inefficient process where the employee spends way too much time having face to face conversations, sending out emails and making different documents to get everyone up to speed on the order and get approval. 

Such a process could potentially take multiple hours if not days; time that could have been spent on more productive tasks.

Having a set manual approval process can help with the chaos but it’s still more of a bandaid than a solution. This is because manual approval processes can still be time-consuming with multiple rounds of approval needed before an order goes through.

Just imagine, having to print out requests and then tracking down someone in management to sign off, then resubmitting as an approved order before a purchase can be made, and that is assuming the request gets approved in the first place.

This is why businesses can’t rely on manual processes as a solution, they need a better way to get approvals under control.

Getting approvals Under Control

eProcurement software is the best solution for getting your approval process under control. There are no “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts” about it, eProcurement software offers all the advantages of a manual approval process with none of the drawbacks.

This type of software speeds up the approval process by offering ease of use functionality such as:

  1. Mobile approval
    This is when approval can be given remotely using smart devices from anywhere with an internet connection. The advantage of this is that approvers can deal with requests at their convenience rather than coming into the office if they are out. This speeds up the approval process by a fair amount
  2. Multiple tiers of approval
    Companies can set up an escalating ladder of approvers that an order can go through. This is set up so that both requesters and approvers will get notified if an order is taking too long and they can work to resolve it
  3. Automated purchase approval workflows
    Approval workflows require minimal human involvement outside of giving approval as the software handles the progress of the workflow.
  4. Ability to track all approval processes and their status online
    The software can display all of the companies pending and past approvals on one page so that they can be easily reviewed.

* These features are direct excerpts from ADAM’s approval functionality.

The best part about eProcurement software is that there is a seamless flow between the various steps in the purchasing process as a whole, this means that once a request is made it is immediately sent to the relevant person for approval, and once approved the requester gets instant notification of its new status and is given permission to make the purchase. This would have involved a lot of managing and tracking in a manual process but the software records all these documents in one platform so they are easy to access.

A New Way Of Approving

Giving approvals online might take some adjusting but it’s well worth the effort as it can help hasten and simplify a process that has long remained a sticky point in the procurement process. Save time and money by switching over to a better way of approving purchases!


What is an approval process?

An approval process is an organisation’s method to approve anything from documents, invoices, budgets, and purchase orders to a new process that a company wants to institute.

What is approval Software?

Specialised software that automates some of the approval functions so it takes less human involvement.

What are some advantages of approval software?

1. Mobile approval.
2. Multiple tiers of approval.
3. Automated Purchase approval workflows.
4. Ability to track all approval processes and their status online.

Is approval Software the same as eProcurement Software?

Approval functions are usually included in eProcurement Software as it comes bundled with different functions.

What is eProcurement?

The business-to-business purchase and sale of supplies, work, and services through the Internet.

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