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Project Management Software Murdered the Approval Process

September 16, 2016 | Growth Hacking

Has your agency ever tried to share a project management system with a client? How did it go? Was the client able to successfully adopt it? Was the approval process improved?

Chances are, it wasn’t.

Agencies love project management software. It’s the perfect solution for creating, assigning and managing tasks. Project management software keeps everyone informed on project status and provides accountability for deadlines and responsibilities.

But, sometimes our projects don’t go as planned. Deadlines are missed. Requirements are changed. Fingers are pointed.

And, to be honest, it’s usually our client’s fault.

It’s tempting to think, “Oh, if only our clients were only able to use our project management system, these problems wouldn’t happen.” Our client communication might even become as efficient as our own agency. The approval process would be so much quicker.

But, what happens when you sign your clients up for your project management software?

Radio silence.

Here’s the reason project management software doesn’t solve the approval process: your clients hate using it.

Clients Hate Project Management Software

Seriously, they do. Don’t believe me? Watch what happens next time they get fired up about something. Will they communicate to you via Basecamp or will they send an email? Nine times out of 10, that email will be sent so fast that it will leave a burn mark in your inbox — and then the phone will ring.

And all you’ll be thinking is this: I have to record this in Basecamp.

In recent validation research, I met individually with founders and creative directors of 15 of the top marketing agencies in Austin, Tx. Can you guess how many were able to force their clients to use their project management software? Only one. I repeat: one. And how did they do it? They literally made their clients contractually obligated. And, even in their case, they didn’t have 100% success. Doesn’t that speak volumes?

Why do clients hate using project management software? We could spend all day discussing the ways in which the software could benefit all parties. But, it doesn’t matter. Right or wrong, your client thoroughly believes these five things:

  • You will always respond faster via email
  • It takes too long to understand how project management software works
  • It provides too much detail anyway
  • It is just another login
  • It disrupts their workflow

All to say: clients want to stay in their inbox. At a minimum, they don’t want to be a part of your system. You’d think that software developers would understand this by now. It’s not about clients being more or less tech savvy. It’s about communication — which project management software doesn’t improve. Clients don’t want to help you manage your process. They don’t care about your task lists. That’s what they are paying you to do.

Your clients only want to do two things:

  1. Review deliverables
  2. Approve deliverables

While Basecamp, Asana and other project management solutions come packed with features, those features are not geared at simplifying your client’s experience. Project management systems are bulky and difficult to navigate. It focuses too much on internal tasks and not enough on what clients care about: reviewing work, staying updated on status’ and making decisions.

The Solution is Approval Automation, Not Task Management

When we try to solve communication problems by adding additional tasks, we’re not improving the approval process. We’re murdering it. Because, in 14/15 cases, project management software does not improve communication.

It isn’t easy for clients to use. It forces them to change their own workflow. It gives them yet another login. It doesn’t present the right level of information. It leads to a poor client experience. And, oh yeah, it doesn’t really save time. It might help you — the agency — spend less time doing task-oriented things, but it will never reduce the amount of time a client spends working with you.

At the end of the day, modern project management software is just glorified task management. It helps improve coordination but not communication. The solution agencies actually need for client management is approval automation.

What does an automated approval system look like? It would do five things:

  • Send deliverables through a client approval workflow automatically
  • Provide a digital platform for clients to submit feedback
  • Limit client responsibilities to 1) receiving an email and 2) submitting feedback
  • Provide an audit log to the agency of deliverable history
  • Not require clients to login to new accounts

That’s it. Simple enough, right?

Ashore does all of the above, and more. And the best thing for your clients is that they don’t need an account to view proofs on Ashore. They only need an email address, and everyone has one of those these days. 

But having a dedicated approval software won’t complicate your workflow, either. Ashore has an integration with Zapier, so you can connect Ashore to your project management software or any other programs you use. With Zapier, you get the dedicated specialty of your project management and the dedicated proofing of Ashore, no compromises. 

But don’t just take our word for it. Try out Ashore and our Zapier integration for yourself to see how a dedicated approval software working in tandem with your project management software can really improve your approval process.

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