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Why Should I Use Guest Review in Project Management Software?

The guest review feature in project management software allows external stakeholders to review files and provide feedback within your system. Guests are not given full rights within the software and are limited to proofing activities such as adding comments directly to images, videos, and other files.

Standard files types available for guest review are:

  • BMP
  • GIF
  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • PDF

However, not all project management software offers this functionality, so it’s important to compare your options.

Uses for guest review

When should someone be granted “guest” privileges rather than some other kind of role within your software?

To answer this question, it’s helpful to first look at the five most common types of roles offered within project management systems:

  • Administrator. This role provides the greatest level of access within the system. It’s usually limited to 3 or fewer people who are tasked with managing the overall setup and security of the software. For larger organizations, the administrators may be within your IT department.
  • Regular Users. This is the most common guest review role for active team members. Within the user role, different groups and access levels can be created by the administrator(s). For instance, you may have an “Approver” user group that can only view and comment but not edit. Most likely you and your project team members will each have some type of user role within your software.
  • External Users. External users have similar rights to regular users, but usually without the ability to share tasks, folders, and projects with others. Plus, external users can typically only see the contact information of people who share common tasks, folders, and projects with them.
  • Collaborators. It’s common for project management software solutions to have a pay-scale that varies based on the number of users you have. However, collaborators are typically not included as “paid” users as their ability is much more limited. Generally, collaborators are restricted to viewing tasks, projects, and reports that are shared with them. They may also be able to leave comments and change statuses on shared tasks.
  • Guests. Guests are even more limited than collaborators — they only have the ability to review and comment on files. They can’t access tasks, folders, or projects and can’t see any other data such as reports.

Guest review functions typically include only the following:

It’s helpful to break the guest user role into two groups:

  • Internal guests
  • External guests
Internal guests

Internal guests are people within your organization who aren’t on your project team and aren’t assigned any tasks they need to progress but need to review project files.

For example, in larger organizations, it’s common to have an “Audit and Compliance” team or department. You may need to grant someone from this group guest privileges so they can ensure project files are in compliance with company policies.

External guests

External guests are typically people from the client organization who need to approve deliverables.

For instance, your main contact may have a subject matter expert that they want to sign off on files and products before they consider them completed. This person doesn’t need to see project reports or task progress — they simply need access to certain files.

Benefits of guest review

Guest review functionality is designed to provide the perfect balance between security and visibility. It enables you to openly share important files with the people who need to see them while maintaining the maximum possible security for all of your sensitive project information.

Without guest review, your options are to give stakeholders more access or no access. Giving them more access opens you up to the possibility of information being shared with people who don’t have the proper authority. Plus, it can increase your software costs by forcing you to purchase more user licenses.

But with no access, people are forced to do reviews outside of the system. This can result in a number of consequences such as:

  • Duplicate requests
  • Lost communications
  • Multiple versions of files
  • An incomplete audit trail
  • Slower approval cycles

By maintaining all files and reviews within your project management software, you can also create a central repository of documents. When you or someone on your team goes looking for a file, you only have to look in one location. You don’t have to ask someone to send it to you or worry that it’s not the right file.

Plus, you can keep the files linked to tasks so you can monitor and report on their progress. With this functionality, it’s easy to see if a file is still waiting on someone to approve it or if it’s back with the creator for edits, etc.

In addition, guests can mark up the digital files directly, making it much clearer what they want to change. This limits miscommunication and means your team members don’t have the time-consuming tasks of piecing together feedback and cross-referencing separate files, comments, emails, and so on.

With the guest review functionality, you can generate secure invitations for external collaborators to review the files of your choice. This helps ensure that no one without the proper authority gains access to your system or files.

After all, the invitation limits who can review, and the role prevents forwarding, sharing, or printing of the files. This is much more secure than sending them by email. For even greater security, guest review should also offer permission controls, password protection, and access expiration.

Further reading
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Raising the Security Bar in Collaborative Work Management

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3 Ways Your Project Management Software Is Failing Your Clients

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How to Create a Winning Design Team Workflow