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How Do Your Review and Approval Processes Stack Up?

by Mike Puterbaugh

20 March 2019

Feedback for creative marketing projects often come from (and touch) many different parts of the business, so much so, that it can be tough to know who truly “owns” the entire process - and who’s responsible for making it more efficient. Depending on the type of organization you work within, review and approval processes can vary, as can the roles responsible for them.

If you’re a Creative Manager, you know the struggle of trying to translate disjointed comments and annotations into actionable, timely revisions for your team.

If you’re in Marketing Operations, you know the internal strife of providing many different collaborators with the tools they need to keep work moving.

If you’re in Client Relations, you know your clients want easy and customized access to provide their input, but also don’t need visibility into the entire creative process.

Because each area of creative production comes has its own unique review and approval challenges, creative teams can default to using tools that only touch on a part of the overall review process.

Modern content review and approval processes, however, should have the ability to span departments, collaborators, technologies, and content formats to facilitate multi-stage reviews (and iterations) in a single environment.

When it comes time to evaluate your review and approval processes consider the following areas to ensure you're enabling a solution to a problem, as opposed to a tactical tool. 

Are All of Your Content Types Supported?

Having a single platform that can manage the sharing, markup, and revisions for every type of media your creative team produces for review is a great first step in "future-proofing" your review and approval process. The volume and type of content you’re circulating--from design files, static content, web pages, video, and other rich media - is created in many different systems, and often distributed for review across many different channels, too.

Modern online proofing software enables collaborators to review many different content assets and file types simultaneously in the same place. If you’re managing each content type as a stand-alone item, it’s time to start thinking about centralizing all content formats into one review system.

Can You Easily Version and Compare Revisions Within Your Process?

Maintaining a central repository for all content types is also paramount for managing the timeline of numerous project drafts and revisions.

Storing versions and drafts across Google documents, personal file folders, and Slack channels create confusion about which version is current and correct, and leads to lost time chasing down documents and files at every stage of the creative production lifecycle.

Instead, automatic version control across format types helps verify that requested changes were actually implemented (or why they weren’t) and maintains a complete record of revisions for your team’s compliance and brand integrity.

Can Your Clients Easily (But Securely) Access Your Content?

If you’re servicing several client review streams simultaneously, with different timelines and feedback preferences, your team is likely spending a lot of time just maintaining client communication and jumping between systems to collect feedback.

No matter why type of clients you work with, they should all be able to use one standard system to access content, comment on drafts, and see the full history of each project that involves their organization.

Using one system for all clients, however, can immediately introduce potential intellectual property and security risks. Your online proofing capabilities should go a step further by allowing clients, partners, and outside vendors should be able to work as guest contributors on just the content and projects they need to be involved in without having exposure and access to your entire content ecosystem. Group-level permissions and configurable access for individuals should guarantee that all proofs, comments, and associated files are accessible, yet secure and private.

Are Comments and Annotations Precise or Problematic?

Comments on creative content projects can come in every form under the sun - email feedback, bulleted lists, chat, comment boxes on documents, and more.

Without a central way to collect, view, and take action on these many comment streams, your team is likely only getting part of the story when it comes to requested project revisions--and spend a lot of time chasing down and combining comments.

With modern online proofing, comments and replies should be easy to make and markups should be as simple and straightforward as using PowerPoint or Google Sheets - point, click, done. The ability to make comments and annotations shouldn’t require a learning curve for your creative team, clients, and collaborators, but they do need to get used to using one system to leaving markups on all content types.

Are Project Notifications Real-Time or Relayed Through Disconnected Channels?

Once comments have been made or tasks assigned, the method and frequency at which your team members are informed about the status of projects can make or break project turn-around deadlines.

If your team is assigned tasks through one channel that’s not connected to the review and approval system, or are receiving notifications about project updates well after the fact, closing the loop between task and action becomes a huge problem.

The key is that real-time notifications should straddle the line between project urgency and project flow.

Creative teams should receive notifications when project content is updated, project statuses change or new comments are added to current drafts.

Clients, however, may only need to be notified when a new complete draft is uploaded for review. Modern online proofing includes the flexibility to tailor notification preferences and extend notifications into other operational systems.

These are just a few areas where content proofing is advancing for both creative, project management and client management teams. The difference between basic proofing and review and enterprise-grade review processes comes down to performance, but also the accessibility, security, and reliability of the tools your entire team and all of your clients can use to keep projects moving.

For a more in-depth evaluation, we’ve put together a full checklist to compare different proofing solutions and functionalities and decide which one is right for you.

Download the Checklist

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