Life is not so black and white that something is or something isn’t. That’s the problem with the difference between articles is there are always some shades of gray (yep – I wrote shades of gray not knowing anything about the book or movie).
Still Can Learn
Even though there are levels of differences and the differences depend on the application and where the company is in their Accounts Payable Automation journey, we can still lean a few things from the approval process and workflow. As I have written a lot about workflow is defined as a predetermined electronic approval process. They do have to work together but there are a few differences that are worth noting.
For the most part the approval process is something that has a legal basis. There is a need for the approval process to qualify the expense and to make sure it is valid. There are many ways to do an approval process. You can base the process off of a contract, purchase order, or just plain eye balling the invoice. The point is something or someone has to make sure the expense can be paid. The difference here is that workflow makes sure that the expenses gets from one approver to another approver in the most effective manner. With AP Automation that means each approver should receive the need to approve in real-time. There is a confusion that this needs to be done with email, but email works best as a reminder and not as a mechanism to transfer invoices.
The approval process is to qualify the expense and workflow is to transmit the expense.
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