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The Approval System Software That Will Make You Money

October 3, 2016 | Growth Hacking

Why do you need approval software?

For marketing agencies and the creatives that inhabit them, getting deliverables approved by clients is usually a big pain point.

Whether it is proofing a website, video or blog article, it can often take days to weeks to receive a proper response. Not to mention, when that client is a company with several levels of approval, the process becomes egregious.

To relieve this pain point, approval system software is a necessity. The trick, however, is finding the system that meets all of your qualifications. Every agency conducts work in a different way and uses different tools to communicate with their clients through different means. The system your organization chooses to adopt should only improve upon your current methods. It shouldn’t impugn your current workflow or add additional steps for you and your clients.

Who’s makes it the best?

The best approval system software is one that does all the work. You shouldn’t have to spend any excess time learning to adapt to a hairy workflow. The interface should be as straightforward, especially for your clients. That being said, the best system is different for everybody; it depends on how big your team is and what kind of deliverables you send out. The top five approval systems all have their strengths and weaknesses, and we are going to break those down for you.

To analyze the business return for each approval system software, we are going to use five key metrics: the number of supported file types, the ability to set approval automation, review and collaboration tools, provided analytics and integrations with other systems. Before we dive in, let’s break down what each of these metrics means.

File Types:

When it comes to supported file types, diversity matters just as much as quantity. The software may be able to support a large number of image file types, but you might not be able to review and collaborate on video or audio formats. These things will be considered.

Approval Automation:

Automation is an important feature necessary in any approval system software to streamline the process. The system needs to be able to take the repetitive, menial work out of your hands so you can focus on creating. Tasks such as sending deliverables off to different approvers and automatically setting reminders to review and give feedback should be taken care of on any good system.

Review and Collaboration Tools:

Review and collaboration tools need to be simple for everybody to use. Approvers should be able to easily outline what and where on the deliverable they think needs editing. Tools for collaboration can also mean other systems, so where an approval software can integrate will also be considered. Project management systems and cloud storage software can be very helpful partners in the collaboration process..


Analytics and other reporting tools can provide you with the insights needed to help your team and business run smoother. Your approval system software should give you the ability to see who has reviewed any deliverable, when they reviewed, how many times they reviewed, who is taking the longest to provide feedback and what is holding up the process. You should have access to an audit log with detailed information of each change in a deliverable’s status too.

Now, let’s dig in.


Supported file types:

ProofHQ supports over 150 file types. This includes print, web, interactive, video, and email.

Ability to set approval automation:

This software allows you to configure the steps in the automation process and set the details of each project including a timeline and the people involved. It works well for projects that require multiples groups of people to give approval or multiple stages of approval because it automates the more managerial tasks such as review notifications and status updates.

Review/collaboration tools:

ProofHQ allows you to collaborate directly on the deliverable in real time with commenting and annotation tools. These comments can be replied to on the deliverable. Their review process can cut down revisions by 29% and speed up project delivery by 56%.

Provided reporting and analytics:

On a deliverable, all comments are logged. You can also save multiple versions of the same proof to compare alongside each other. All activity is tracked and stored in an audit log to ensure all guidelines were followed. ProofHQ does not provide analytics on review performance or your own revision performance.

Integrations with other top systems:

ProofHQ integrates with a number of work and project management systems and file sharing and management systems. These include Basecamp, Workfront, NetSuite, Xinet, Microsoft SharePoint, Box, and Adobe Creative Suite.


ProofHQ streamlines the review and approval process for any type of deliverable. It automates the process and has a good online arena for review and collaboration. It keeps a log of all activity for future referrals, but it doesn’t analyze the review process to find the weak points. Another big issue with this software is the price. It is definitely not a product for the freelancer or even small to mid-size agencies. At about four grand a year for the basic model, they have a certain clientele in mind. It also doesn’t integrate with partners such as Google Drive or Dropbox. ProofHQ isn’t a bad system, but it isn’t perfect and for that price, you should demand perfection.


Supported file types:

In ClientFlow, you attach files using Google Drive, Dropbox and Box.

Ability to set approval automation:

With this system, all approval and confirmation requests are automatically recorded. Once you send an approval request to your client using this service, they can confirm within the email. For multiple reviewers, however, there is no process automation for approval.

Review/collaboration tools:

Using ClientFlow, you collaborate through conversation threads with the ability to assign teammates to threads. Teammates can also leave notes for the rest of the team on threads, projects and clients. There are no tools for clients to physically leave comments on deliverables themselves, however.

Provided reporting and analytics:

ClientFlow lets you see how engaged your clients are. It tells you who is opening your emails and when, as well as the links reviewers have clicked.

Integrations with other systems:

ClinetFlow integrates with a lot of useful communication tools including, Slack, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Asana and Trello.


This platform is unique in that clients don’t have to make an account and can keep using their email. It gives more transparency to the members of the internal team at the agency. The team members have more access to the conversation happening with the client, approval requests, analytics and template responses. The main issue, perhaps, is that the client is still providing feedback in email. There might be a problem with the image on the third page of an e-book you are designing for them, and your client might have you go through three revisions before they’re finally satisfied. After all, explaining through email can be a vague and difficult way to communicate visuals. Having software that allows them and other members of the team to point out directly on the deliverable where and what the problem is can reduce the number of revisions and speed up the waiting time between each one. ClientFlow declutters your inbox, but it doesn’t allow direct collaboration on the deliverable.

Page Proof

Supported file types:

You can review deliverables in a variety of formats. Video, audio, images, PDFs and documents are covered. It also supports Excel, PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Acrobat PDF.

Ability to set approval automation:

After you’ve designated the members of the workflow, an email will automatically go out to them requesting their review of the deliverable. Before the next person can review, they have to wait for the previous person in the chain to approve it. Page Proof requires all approvers to create an account.

Review/collaboration tools:

All reviewers have the ability to leave comments directly on deliverables themselves. As the agency, you can also reply directly to these comments and create to-dos for your team internally. When a new version of the deliverable is ready, the agency can upload it to the system and it will inherit the details of the previous version. There is no option, however, to compare versions side by side.

Provided reporting and analytics:

PageProof keeps a searchable log of old and new deliverables. Like others on this list, it doesn’t provide any analytics on the approval process.

Integrations with other top systems:

You can choose files to review with PageProof from Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive. If you want to use a management system like Basecamp or Asana, you’re out of luck for now.


PageProof is all about workflows. The workflow you create can have proofers, mandatory proofers, approvers, the final approver and inviters. With all these different roles, the process might get confusing for agencies at first. Beyond that, review and analytic tools are very basic, and forcing clients to create an account to review will impede the review process. To sum it up, PageProof is a very complex approval system that requires considerable onboarding for your team and your clients.


Supported file types:

Conjure supports image (.jpg, .jpeg, .gif, .png, .bmp, .psd, .webp, .tif and .tiff), vector (.eps, .ai, .svg and .pdf), presentation (.key, .ppt, .pptx and .pdf) and document (.doc, .docx and .pdf) file types. It does not support video or audio nor does it allow you to take files from Google Drive or other cloud storage.

Ability to set approval automation:

There are no approval automation features. When a contact approves the deliverable, the deliverable is set as approved by everyone. Beyond this, all reviewers collaborate and provide feedback at once – so there are no automating features to move along the approval process.

Review/collaboration tools:

Conjure allows you to add both team members and guests to collaborate on deliverables. You can comment on the image itself, and comments can be replied to. Everyone is required to create an account, however.

Provided reporting and analytics:

A log of versions of the deliverable and comments are saved in a searchable format. There is also an activity feed to keep you up to date. Otherwise, there are no analytics about team performance or feedback.

Integrations with other top systems:



Conjure keeps all the activity in one central location and eliminates the necessity of email chains as a means to handle feedback. It also sends notifications, and the organization of different folders and versions isn’t too confusing. There is no cohesive workflow, however. Approvers all meet in one central location, and that can get messy. They also don’t support a huge variety of file types such as video or audio. They only have basic collaboration and analytical features as well. You can’t see who has been giving feedback on a timely basis and who hasn’t, and because there is no chain of approval, you have to look yourself to see who’s holding up the project. There is also no available information on systems Conjure integrates with, if any at all. All of this points to an approval software that might not meet all the requirements you need it to meet in order to truly streamline the approval process.


Supported file types:

ProofMe supports over 120 file types, and you can upload files directly from Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box and you can use the URL for webpages and videos.

Ability to set approval automation:

Once you invite people to collaborate, you have to stay on top of their collaboration and comments. Deadline reminders are an option in the paid versions. You can choose contacts from your email, Slack, Basecamp and social media, and they don’t need an account to collaborate. This is another case where you cannot introduce approval automation because when a deliverable is approved, it’s marked as approved by everyone.

Review/collaboration tools:

Annotation tools let collaborators get specific on the deliverable with what needs to be changed, and the comments are ordered chronologically and color coded to correspond with the points on the deliverable. For videos, ProofMe also has frame by frame commenting to keep everything organized. A simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down approves the deliverable.

Provided reporting and analytics:

ProofMe saves all versions and comments of a deliverable in an archive that you can look back on later. You can see who has given feedback and respond to them. Better reporting and analytics are said to be coming in their new Enterprise version.

Integrations with other top systems:

ProofMe integrates with YouTube, Vimeo, Google Drive, InDesign, OneDrive, Box, cloud storage, Dropbox, Photoshop and Slack.


ProofMe takes the conversation out of email completely and doesn’t require everyone having an account to collaborate (the team has an account). It also integrates with a number of valuable systems. However, there are a lot of features that are just not there yet. The collaboration environment is a little busy, the approval process is largely not automated at this point, even when you pay, and there aren’t really any analytics to speak of.

What makes Ashore special?

At Ashore, we’re treading the waters and the product we’re building hopes to improve on the shortcomings of most approval system software. Our goal is to help you send deliverables more efficiently, collaborate more seamlessly, and be more informed of a deliverable’s status and history.

We understand the importance of automating the approval process and reducing the amount of time you have to spend manually managing workflows and collaboration requests. Ashore allows you to make custom workflows to send your work through, and when someone forgets to give their approval, they’ll be automatically reminded via email. And when a deliverable has been approved by one person, it will automatically go on to the next approver. Setting up workflows will be easy. You just add the contacts in the order you would like them to review your item and how often you would like them to receive reminders.

Approvers will have an array of annotation tools at their fingertips to review and collaborate on every file type including those from Google Drive and Dropbox. And speaking of systems Ashore integrates with, when clients comment on your deliverables, they can automatically become tasks in the project management platforms such as Asana or Basecamp. To give feedback, clients just have to click anywhere on the screen over the deliverable and add a comment. This easy process is the same regardless of the type of item on review, whether its web pages, web links, documents, images, PDFs, videos or files from Google Drive.

Most importantly, Ashore will not require clients to create an account.

Ashore makes sure you stay up to date on the status of your deliverables. You’ll be notified every time a deliverable changes status, and everything will be documented in an online audit log. Ashore will track revisions and give you more visibility so everybody – from freelancers to agencies – can better manage their business, and to help you do this, you can replace Ashore’s branding with your own. Your clients will be impressed.

Our approval system software will give you the analytics to better manage your team and the approval process as a whole. You’ll be able to see who keeps missing their deadlines, who has viewed the deliverable, who’s approved it, when they approved it and their average response time. All of this information about the status of your item will be logged for you to easily refer back to. Over time, Ashore will be able to provide a report about each approver including how many documents they’ve approved, how many deadlines have been missed and their total average response time. Not only will it give you insight into how your approvers are doing, it will show how you are doing: how many deliverables you’ve sent, how many new versions you’ve sent and your average turnaround time.

At the end of the day, affordability is the most important consideration in any business investment. You don’t want to break the bank for approval software. We will make sure that Ashore is affordable for your needs no matter if you’re a large marketing agency or a one-man show. When so much of your business relies on other people approving your work, it’s invaluable to have a system to automate the process, take the pressure off of you to keep up with everyone else’s activities and speed up the time until payday.

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