Business processes are the lifeblood that keeps organizations thriving. Yet, not all processes are created equal. Some are straightforward and linear, while others resemble labyrinths with multiple twists and turns. Welcome to the world of process complexity, where the challenges of managing intricate workflows can lead to a cascade of issues that significantly impact operational efficiency and compliance.

In this article, we explore the world of complex processes and dive deep into one of the most frequent components of complex processes — approvals. Whether you're navigating the convoluted paths of complex processes or cruising down simpler workflows, our insights will help you make an informed choice when selecting an automation solution that aligns with your unique needs.

Complex processes vs. simple processes

Suppose you’re deciding between investing in a robust process automation platform or opting for an off-the-shelf SaaS solution. You must first determine whether your process is simple or complex.

Simple business processes are typically straightforward and linear, with minimal decision points and a limited number of steps. In contrast, complex business processes are characterized by their intricacy, involving numerous decision points, conditional pathways, and interactions across various departments or stakeholders.

Managing complex processes manually or through inadequate process automation tools can result in increased operational costs, higher error rates, compliance risks, and bottlenecks. Organizations can avoid these headaches by implementing a robust process automation solution specifically designed to handle complexity, like Process Director. Such a solution can streamline workflows, reduce error rates, ensure compliance, and mitigate bottlenecks, ultimately driving operational efficiency and cost savings.

Of course, while robust process automation solutions excel at handling complexity, they may be overkill for relatively simple and straightforward processes. When dealing with simple processes, opting for a less sophisticated Software as a Service (SaaS) solution could be a more cost-effective and efficient choice.

Four telltale signs of a process complexity

By accurately assessing the complexity of your workflows, you can ensure you are leveraging the right level of automation to enhance efficiency without tacking on unnecessary complexity. But how do you know if your processes are complex?

Here are four indicators that you're dealing with a complex process:

Responsible for sensitive information

You need a secure way to handle trade secrets, financial data, and personal information.

Rigorous regulatory & data integrity standards

You need to maximize traceability and quality control so you can prevent errors and close compliance gaps.

Sophisticated routing & integrations

You have intricate approval processes and must integrate data spanning multiple departments or parties.

Advanced conditional logic required

You need a smarter system with workflow options that change dynamically based on specific attributes.

Process complexity in approval workflows

Let’s zero in on how complexity actually manifests in processes with an example. 

As one of the most critical facets of business operations, approval workflows can make or break operational efficiency. That’s why it should come as no surprise to learn that approvals frequently exhibit all four signs of process complexity. Here’s how:

  • Sensitive information handling: Complex approvals often involve reviewing and authorizing critical documents and decisions, such as financial transactions or access to sensitive data. Ensuring a secure and confidential handling of this information is paramount to prevent data breaches or unauthorized access.
  • Regulatory and data integrity standards: Many approval workflows are subject to strict regulatory guidelines, especially in industries like healthcare and finance. Compliance with these standards is non-negotiable, requiring meticulous tracking, auditing, and quality control to avoid costly errors or compliance gaps.
  • Sophisticated routing and integrations: Approval processes can span multiple departments or even external stakeholders, necessitating seamless integration and data exchange. Ensuring that the right people or groups review and approve documents in the correct order is vital for efficient and compliant operations.
  • Advanced conditional logic: Complex approvals often involve intricate decision-making criteria. For example, approval may be contingent on specific attributes or conditions being met, such as budget thresholds or compliance with company policies. These rules require a sophisticated automation system to ensure accurate and consistent decision-making.

Complex processes often involve intricate approval workflows that can make or break operational efficiency. Approvals demand a level of sophistication and precision that standard automation tools may struggle to provide.

To accommodate complex approval needs, process automation solutions like Process Director can leverage a range of different approval types. Let's examine three approval types frequently encountered in complex processes.  

1. Conditional approvals

Grants approval based on predefined if-then conditions or criteria, allowing for automated decision-making and streamlining the approval process.

Example: Purchase requisitions



2. Nested approvals

Allows for hierarchical approval structures, where multiple authorization levels are required sequentially.

Example: Marketing content review



3. Parallel approvals

Enables simultaneous review and approval by multiple individuals or groups, reducing approval time and increasing efficiency.

Example: Publication management



Don't let chaos hold you back

Whether you're dealing with straightforward workflows or tackling the challenges of complexity, choosing the right automation solution for your business processes requires a keen understanding of their intricacies.

Contact us today to learn how Process Director can help you conquer complexity. 

Catie Leary

Written by Catie Leary

Strategic Marketing Manager at BP Logix