In any creative project involving a client or a team, the approval process is an essential aspect of the project. Still, it is also often the most significant challenge (and the less enjoyable) part for any designer.
On the other hand, in a creative business, a design approval process that is clear and well-documented can make or break the company itself. Improving the approval process flow can reduce the time required to finish the project, while at the same time eliminating compliance risks and defining how a deliverable is approved.
Here Are The Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Design Approval Process.
1. Define Clear Approval Process
This one might seem obvious but often overlooked by many.
Suppose your approval process is unclear or disorganized. In that case, it can easily be a major headache for everyone involved in the process, and at the same time can slow down the whole process significantly and so it’s going to be hard to meet deadlines.
Make sure to create a clear and specific process while defining each role and timeline carefully. Ensure that it is as easy as possible for everyone to know what is expected from them, who should they send feedback to, and when, and on the other side of the spectrum, when will they get the proof to review.
In General, There Are Three Things We Should Consider:
. Structure Your Schedule Carefully:
a good approval process shouldn’t be spontaneous but instead should stick to a clear schedule. Consider which aspect of the workflow will take the most time and whether the project can be divided into different phases.
. Define Roles:
assign different people for different areas of the project to ensure accuracy and clarity. The bigger/more complex the project is, the more reviewers/approvers you will need to be involved in the project so they can examine the deliverables from as many different angles as required.
. Provide Clear Limitations For Subjective Opinions:
define beforehand what criteria you will use in the approval process to avoid subjective reviews and opinions.
2. Minimise The Number of Approvers and Revisions
While we have mentioned that you should include more approvers in a more complex/more significant project, having too many approvers can also be counterproductive.
Limiting the number of approvers and allowed revisions are necessary if you don’t want to waste too much time in the approval process. In general:
- Try to limit the number of approvers to no more than three per phase/stage, and if the scope of the project allows, include just one per stage.
- In most cases, you should limit the number of revisions to only two and three at the maximum. This will also force both designers and reviewers to make the most of each revision stage, especially the last stage.
- Have a clear method to track different changes in each revision stage. If you are using an online proofing software (more on this later), this shouldn’t be a problem.
- If you work in a team, make sure each revision is approved by the manager/creative director before sending it to the client. This practice alone can save much time going back and forth with each revision.
3. Make Communications As Seamless as Possible
It’s quite often that the inefficient design approval process’s problem doesn’t come from the approval workflow itself but the internal and external communication processes.
An unnecessary delay in an approval stage can happen when a designer doesn’t know exactly how to respond to an approver. On the other hand, an approver might wait too long for another approver’s feedback, adding another delay.
The most effective approach to improving communications in the design approval process is to agree on a platform where all stakeholders involved can easily interact. Traditionally, many will use emails for the approval process, but the platform’s massive limitations in accommodating back-and-forth discussions and centralization make it terrible for online proofing.
Nowadays, we can use project communication platforms like Slack or even a dedicated online proofing software like Approve to allow real-time communications between stakeholders. Video conferencing solutions like zoom can also be effective when you need more direct, video-based discussions.
4. Improve File Sharing Efficiency
Since most of the approval process is about sending and receiving files, making file sharing more manageable and seamless can significantly reduce the overall time required for the design approval process.
Again, there are some limitations in using email for file sharing purposes, especially regarding file sizes. Using email for file-sharing would mean that the recipient must also have the required program/software to open a specific filetype (i.e., you’d need PhotoShop installed to open .PSD files.)
Using a cloud-based file sharing solution can significantly help in tackling this issue. Make sure to use a solution to easily identify different versions of a file, which is very common in a design approval process.
5. Automating The Approval Process
In the past, we rely on manual approval processes by printing the design deliverables then physically sending these printed papers for approvals. This is inefficient, and the bigger the project gets, the more difficult it would be to implement this manual approval process.
The same thing also applies to email-based approval. It can be tough to trace hundreds of back-and-forth emails in the process of resolving conflicts.
This is where free online proofing by WeAproove can help organize and automate most approval workflows to make it more efficient.
Above, we have discussed five different ways we can use to improve your design approval process to be more efficient and less time-consuming. Investing in an online approval solution can provide a more seamless experience for both the designer and approver, significantly improving the design approval process by:
- Reducing the time required to send a deliverable to an approver, and vice versa
- Eliminating compliance risks and preventing deliverables from being lost
- Cut unnecessary steps and streamline the approval process
- More versatility for both the designer and approver, as they can easily access the platform anywhere
- More transparency and accountability for all parties involved in the approval process