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How to master delegation of Jira Service Management approvals

How to master delegation of Jira Service Management approvals

How to master delegation of Jira Service Management approvals
Are you ready to take your Jira Service Management approvals game to the next level? With delegations, your workload as a busy approver can become way lighter, since you no longer need to be present for every approval and you can let others do it for you! Delegating approvals Out of Office Assistant for Jira will make your company move faster than ever. Keep reading, and be careful how you select your approval delegates!

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Does your company rely on Jira Service Management Approvals?

The UI in JSM invites approvers to approve… but sometimes, the decision is not that obvious

Imagine that I make a request for time off and the approval is delayed. Yes, it’s a nuisance. I may not know if I’m allowed to make my travel arrangements, and it might be too late for me to travel altogether by the time the approval comes in. But altogether, the impact is only one unhappy employee.

While a single delay is not ideal, it’s a small pain from the perspective of the entire business. But what’s the potential damage to a company when approvals always come in too late?

5 types of unacceptable delays in approving requests

5 types of Jira Service Management approvals generating a bottleneck and an upset manager
When a single manager is in charge of approving every departmental request, from travel expenses to equipment or new hires, the result is often poor decisions… and a ton of delays

Here’s a quick list of requests that can put entire companies in danger if their approval arrives too late.

  1. Requests for new equipment or software needed to complete a time-sensitive project. In industries like manufacturing, construction, and engineering, the delay of the project can have severe financial and reputational consequences. Causing that delay because of a missing internal approval is hard to swallow.
  2. Requests for additional resources to address a technical issue that is affecting the organization’s operations. The criticality of this request will be obvious to technical leadership, particularly if the consequence of not approving it could imply the disruptions or downtime in critical systems. Unfortunately, VPs of Software Engineering don’t have the ear of the CEO just as much as the CFO or the VP of Sales for a key region, and it might be hard for them to fight for the budget required.
  3. Requests for training or development opportunities for team members. Less skilled employees are less productive, but trainings are often seen as a secondary activity that interrupts “business as usual”. I have seen them in a limbo quite often.
  4. Requests for travel and expenses for a business trip. This type of delay could make the team miss important meetings or events with customers. Translation? Some contracts may be lost to a faster competitor.
  5. Requests for new hire or contractor. Okay, we know that recruiting takes time, so the impact here is possibly less severe. However, the failure to land critical talent can damage and organization’s long-term plans and goals.

If you sum up all these “opportunities for being too slow” together, it should be clear pretty quickly that having a speedy process for approving requests is vital. So then, why do late approvals still happen?

Keep reading about Out Of Office

Reasons why approvals are not granted on time

Let’s assume that approvals are late as a rule. Otherwise, there may not be anything that needs fixing. Where should you start looking if you want to understand what’s wrong?

To simplify, let’s just say that there’s two basic options. Both are really common!

The Approval Process is too complex

An example of an approval workflow that may just be too complex

If your organization is complex, it will have become a bureaucracy. And if that’s the case, having a request approved might escape the power of any isolated individual.

Jira Service Management cuts the red tape

At some point, companies that are suffering because of too much internal red tape must admit that it’s time to change things, cut fat, go lean.

That’s why Jira Service Management has become a disruptive technology for many corporations: because it simplifies ITSM.

Jira Service Management approvals workflow
A workflow that includes a simple approval step upon issue creation, in Jira Service Management

Sure, it’s still possible to create convoluted workflows with multiple approval steps in Jira Service Management. But at its core, the Approval functionality is minimalistic and effective.

Who’s guilty of delaying approvals in JSM?

So now, let’s imagine that we live in a perfect world where every company uses a simple approval config in Jira Service Management.

And… guess what? Some requests still take days or even weeks to be processed.

What the heck can be happening? I have a culprit: the overloaded approver

Approving Managers have become a bottleneck

Sure, a list with 4 approvals, like this one, looks tidy and neat. But what if dozens upon dozens start piling up?

There are actually many reasons why a manager who’s responsible for Jira approvals may not be able to deal with them.

  • Drowning in requests. Sometimes managers are expected to approve too many requests… but it can feel like trying to swim through a sea of paperwork. This can happen very easily when an admin adds an individual approver in the workflow of a request type. If the request type becomes widely used, the backlog of requests may make the approval process stagnant.
  • Low capacity. Being a manager is no walk in the park – it’s more like a marathon in heels! And requests that require a lot of meetings and decisions are just like that one hill that makes you want to quit.
  • Approvers are missing in action. Do your processes account for situations where an approver is absent? And also for less likely scenarios where a delegate approver is also temporarily unavailable?

The solution: delegate Jira Service Management approvals

Out of Office Assistant for Jira Cloud logo
Out of Office Assistant for Jira cloud offers a simple approach to approval delegation

The factors above are often combined. Just like recruiters skimming through resumes, approvers are too often too busy to examine a request with the attention that it would deserve… not to mention dozens or hundreds of them! And their lack of availability also includes going on business trips, being offline on an overseas plane, or simply taking time off.

Regardless of the reason, automated approval delegation is the one-fits all solution to remedy bottlenecks.

How to delegate Jira Service Management approvals in relevant projects

The easiest way to automate approval delegations is through the approver coverer rules that can be built with Out of Office Assistant for Jira for Jira Service Management projects.

Note that this app can be used without the need for approvers to be actually on leave!

The rule below delegates approvals in the project Best International Service Desk to Andy Admin, the Approval Coverer.

An Out of Office rule that triggers for a Service Desk project and reassigns approvals
An Out of Office rule that triggers for a Service Desk project and reassigns approvals

Read more in the documentation: Delegating Approvals with Approver Coverers in Jira Service Management – Out of Office Assistant

Delegate JSM approvals based on the project

In the example above, only the requests in the project Best International Service Desk have their approval swapped to the Approval Coverer.

For every other JSM project, the owner of this rule will still be expected to handle incoming approvals directly.

Delegate every JSM approval

It’s also possible to delegate every approval across every JSM project. To set this up, simply select All projects in the project selection field. But be careful! This option may just move around the bottleneck without actually solving the problem.

How to make sure that delegated approvals work

Besides setting up the automation to delegate approvals in Jira Service Management, it’s very recommendable to train everybody: the playbook for approvers, delegate approvers, and requesters change quite a bit.

  1. Choosing delegates: It’s important to choose delegates who are qualified and capable. Considering factors such as knowledge, experience, and expertise!
  2. Set clear expectations and guidelines: Don’t give room for improvisation. Clear guidelines and expectations will help delegates handle their approvals. This may include providing training or resources to help them make informed decisions, and setting deadlines or other constraints to help ensure that approvals are handled in a timely manner.
  3. Monitor and review the delegation process: Ideally, delegate decisions will be as good as the original approver’s. But it might be the case that you’re sacrificing quality for the sake of speed. Everyone who is potentially impacted by the new system should know that so they can flag any issues.
  4. Communicate the new process: Be transparent about the new changes and their challenges to build confidence in the system and prevent disputes or complaints. This may involve providing regular updates and information on the status of delegated approvals.


With an effective delegation solution such as Out of Office Assistant for Jira, companies can become more efficient at their approval process and ensure that approvals are carried out on time. You will dramatically reduce any delays in getting approvals and make sure that no request ever goes unapproved.

But don’t forget the people factor! Software is not magic. Delegates will have to be trained and incentivated to solve the bottleneck that the current approvers are chocking on.

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