What is the major reason additional sign-offs/approvals, checking and reviews have been added into your processes?

I asked this question when working with a team earlier this week. They were improving a recruitment and on-boarding process for fixed term contracts. The process was taking too long, with lots of approval gateways (think 7 signatures!!!). No one could explain the rationale behind so many approvals. The result was 7 times the process could get held up with a form sitting on someones desk. And when that manager does finally sign it, they only do so because they see someone else’s signature is already on it. Sound familiar!

Over time, signature after signature had been added to the recruitment form for two reasons:

  • Mistakes had been made in the past, and the obvious (but poor) solution was to add another check / approval!
  • A lack of trust that people know what they are doing, and can make good decisions

We talked about ways we could reduce the number of signatures. The immediate response was, “oh we could never do that. They would never agree to having their signature removed from that form!”

I challenged whether that was really the case. Had anyone ever actually asked some of the managers if they would like to be removed from the process? They might be pleased to reduce their workload?

Their solution was twofold

  • Engage finance prior to starting the process to determine current budget availability. By bringing in finance early (a simple process rearrangement), about 3 of the approvals could be eliminated, as they all simply relied on the approval from finance anyway.
  • Create a simple checklist for the first approving manager, allowing them to check that all requirements have been completed. The completed checklist was also sent to the final approving manager.

7 Signatures down to 4! It was still not a perfect solution, but lots of waste was eliminated. Sometimes it is best just to take one step forward. Evaluate the results, then take another step forward.

For more detail on how to design a great process, that eliminates mistakes, rework and other forms of waste, check out our online course here