You’ve been working all month on a creative marketing video for customer success, and it’s scheduled to launch next week. It took days to track down the executives for (what you think is) a final approval, when they ask you to send it over to the customer success team for one last look.

The CS team suggests a bunch of changes. Do you make the changes even though the video has already been approved by the executives? And once you do, do you send it back to the executive team to review once again, even though it might delay the launch?

If you’ve been stuck smack-dab in the middle of a similar “approval pickle,” you’re not alone. Even with today’s enhanced marketing communication tools, content approval processes present major challenges.

Scouring email threads and IM chats to track down approvals is time-consuming and messy. Understanding who needs to approve what can be unclear and may lead to unhappy stakeholders and last-minute edits. Between brainstorming new topics, drafting masterpieces, and publishing finished productsthere is little margin for error.

In fact, 49% of people say “waiting for other people’s action” is their biggest productivity roadblock, according to our Work Management Survey. Conceptualizing and writing content must be followed immediately by an efficient review and approval process.

Every approval process has its issues—especially if each stakeholder and step isn’t clear from the start. Let’s go over some strategies to keep in mind when building your content approval process.

1. Avoid delays & bottlenecks

Let’s look at a traditional copy approval process for freelancers: Freelance writers are given an assignment and a deadline. They hand their draft to a copy editor, who may hand off the final edit to the managing editor. The edited version is then laid out by a designer, who assembles a visual mockup for the creative director to approve. Finally, the editor-in-chief looks over the layout and either approves it or asks for design or copy revisions.

If this process is conducted via email, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of who’s reviewed what. When deadlines are given through email, there’s no way to remind someone when an approval is due. You must either rely on the managing editor and creative director to keep track of the due date or remind them manually. Before you know it, your deadline has come and gone.

Delays and bottlenecks are not only frustrating, they’re also detrimental to projects. That’s why leading teams take approval processes out of email and move them into a collaborative work management solution.

Assigning tasks with descriptions and due dates gives editors and stakeholders a clear understanding of the approval timeline. It notifies when a deadline is approaching. This also frees time and resources otherwise spent sending follow-ups and chasing feedback.

Stop the manual reminders and establish an approval process in Wrike for free!

2. Keep the end goal in mind

Scope creep occurs when revisions change the content so much that it fails to meet its original goal. This can be a product of too many cooks in the kitchen or not knowing which editorial approvals are necessary to move forward.

Everyone has different goals and KPIs. When too many people are involved in the feedback loop, agendas can easily get crossed and end-goals are often forgotten. Make sure the goals you agreed on at the beginning are the driving force behind every decision made during the content approval process.

Have stakeholders involved from the beginning so everyone can agree on goals and approvers from the get go. During the creation process, occasionally check in with the stakeholders to make sure everything is on track to meet its original goals. This minimizes confusion or pushback when it’s time for approvals.

3. Leave no room for error

You finally get an email with your stakeholder’s stamp of approval. But when you open the attachment… it’s an outdated version.

It’s easy to get confused when multiple versions of a document are uploaded to a single email thread and left floating in people’s inboxes. This jeopardizes document accuracy and security—not to mention it wastes everyone’s time.

Keep all your files in a single, centralized location, and bake version control into your content approval process to avoid this issue. File versioning replaces existing, outdated files with newer, updated versions, so everyone is on the same page.

Need to revert a file to a previous version? No problem. While file versioning tools make it clear which file is the latest iteration, they also allow you to go back and restore previous versions.

4. Manage accountability

Lack of ownership is a common problem in the content approval process. Approvers are not always aware they’re under the gun to provide feedback by a certain day or time.

There’s a nasty domino effect when even one person fails to provide timely feedback. Make sure your content approval workflow clearly defines what stage of approval each project is in and notifies approvers when the ball is in their court.

Let’s say you’re trying to get a new tagline approved for an upcoming event. Instead of listing “Approvals” as a status, create a workflow listing the approvers’ names so there’s no question about who’s next in line to approve and who has already signed off.

Final tips on building a content approval process

Approvals can get out of hand quickly and create neverending bottlenecks. Help keep goals aligned and approvals seamless by:

  1. Assigning tasks and deadlines to approvers so there’s no excuse for late approvals.
  2. Keeping the goal top of mind by agreeing on objectives and approvals in the beginning and reviewing periodically to ensure you’re on track.
  3. Avoiding errors and lost time with version control so the latest document is always accessible.
  4. Managing accountability by creating a status tied to the approver so there’s no confusion around ownership.

Ready to build your content approval process? Start your Wrike 2-week free trial to get your content approved and out the door in no time.  

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