How to Build the Best Creative Approval Process for You

Category: Productivity | By Kaylie Meek | August 26, 2019

What is the creative approval process? You’ve got some version of it: sending a file to your approver, receiving feedback, doing revisions, getting that final approval. Those are the bare bones of the process, but how well is yours working for you? If you’re combing through emails to find feedback or struggling to remember if you sent the proof to the next person in the workflow, you’re wasting your valuable time. You need an approval system in place that works well and gets approvals. A good system will save you time, stress, and ultimately, money.

The approval process needs:

  • a method for sending your proof through an approval workflow
  • a way to get your approvers to review in a timely manner
  • feedback you can act on
  • a revision system that doesn’t lose the different versions
  • overall, good organization

All of these features are key to building the best creative approval process for you, and all of those features need to allow flexibility and customization to fit your needs.

Sailing Through Those Workflows

Your creative approval process needs to save you the hassle of moving through the chain of approvals. A workflow feature is a must-have in your process, even if you usually send to one approver – when you need it, you’ll be glad to have the capability. Your proof will move from one reviewer to the other as it’s approved – or kicked back to you if it’s not – until final approval is given by the head honcho. No more worrying whether or not you remembered to send the proof along after the first approver looked at it.

Flexibility is a key factor in workflows. You want to be able to send to your approvers one by one or all of them at once if needed. The chain of approval shift around? Being able to edit a workflow or rearrange the order of approvers can save you time rather than having to re-create the entire workflow.

Tick Tock, Time to Review

The creative approval process has the end goal of approval, obviously. The way to achieve that goal is through the timely review of the proof for comments and revisions. Your creative approval process should aid you in timely review with features like reminders and deadlines. Automated reminders keep your proof at the forefront of your approver’s minds, and you should be able to set reminders for different frequencies to best fit your workflow. Do your reviewers need to be reminded daily, weekly or every other day? You’re the person who knows best.

Having a deadline in your approval system also keeps your approver’s heads in the game. Sure, you can manually keep track of the deadline of each individual project, but do you really want to? When approvers are receiving daily reminders with the deadline front and center in the email, you can bet they’re going to take a look.

Give Me Something to Work With

One of the important things to work into your creative approval process is a way to obtain actionable feedback. The best kind of actionable feedback is contextual feedback – comments left directly on the image or file so that you know exactly what your reviewer is talking about. The software you’re using for your approval process should also have different markup tools for your reviewers to better express themselves, like boxes or arrows. Your feedback will be understandable comments that you can act on, rather than vague and unhelpful.

If you need to make sure your approvers checked for certain things, such as spelling, placement, etc., having a checklist for them to sign off on before approval helps them focus their proofing efforts. Being able to write up your own checklist rather than relying on a generic one is a must.

Take Two

Revisions. It would be wonderful to get it right on the first try, but also near impossible. It should be easy to send a new version of your file, and all versions should be kept together for better organization. Stacked revisions allow both you and your approver to see changes that have been made and to view previous comments to ensure that requested changes were enacted.

Swabbing the Decks

Organization is the key to a low-stress work environment. No, not organizing your desk – although it probably needs to be cleaned – but organization of your proofs. Many a creative approval process starts with email back-and-forth, and if you started there you know it can be a mess to find your proofs and feedback amongst all the other emails you get, much less tell if they’re approved or not. Sorting by approved and not approved are only the basics to organization; you may also want personalized filters or tags to group proofs together, and you’ll want your approval software to accommodate that.

The Gist of it All

Key features like workflows, reminders, contextual feedback and organization are integral to a creative approval process. Overall, however, you also want a system that is flexible and allows you to customize the process. Maybe you need a workflow that functions more like a group of reviewers rather than a chain, or perhaps one of your approvers needs daily reminders and another only once a week. You may want your approvers to sign off on specific factors before hitting that approve button, or you may want to organize your proofs by color theory. You’re the person who knows your process best, and your approval software should adapt to your needs.

At Ashore, we’re masters at going with the flow and adapting with the winds. Come sail with us and see if we’re the ship for you.

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