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Why Should I Use Proofing & Approvals in Project Management Software?

Project teams manage and deliver a wide range of project documents and deliverables, including reports, plans, images, graphics, videos, and other visuals. Every time a file is drafted, it needs to be proofread for errors or omissions and then returned to the creator for revision. 

This proofing cycle could happen many times if all of the changes aren’t caught in the first go-around and/or if there are multiple people who need to proof the file. Only after no more changes are needed can it be considered complete and get final approval.  

The proofing and approvals function in project management software enables you to manage, track, and record this entire process so that you never lose sight of where a document is in the review cycle. 

Digital proofing

When you receive a document or file for review, you’ll likely have some comments and feedback, right?

Digital proofing enables you to make those comments directly on the document, image, or video. By using markup tools, you can ensure the feedback is kept directly with the file and provide a visual of exactly where and what you want to be changed. This process means less guesswork and faster turnaround times for the file creators. 

Without digital proofing, you’d have to send your feedback separately, such as through an email. This creates the following risks:

  • The email could get missed or lost.
  • Your recipient may not know which deliverable the email relates to.
  • They could receive multiple conflicting emails from multiple reviewers.
  • They could be confused about what you mean since they’re relying on text only. 

If you work with videos, digital proofing is even more valuable, as you can leave your feedback at specific times and locations in the video. Which means that you can edit and make feedback as you watch instead of having to go back later, note and write down the timestamp, and then put it in an email with your feedback. 

When the creator of a file receives it back with revision requests, they can also reply to or resolve your comments or add comments of their own. This functionality means that if a file is going through several review cycles, it’s easy for everyone to keep track of what’s been changed, what’s still outstanding, and what might be in question. 

While this may vary depending on which tool you select, typical file formats that support digital proofing are:

  • BMP
  • GIF
  • JPEG
  • PDF
  • PNG
  • Office files (DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX)
  • MP4
  • MOV
  • AVI
  • 3GP
  • FLV
  • Public or unlisted YouTube videos

Digital approvals

Have you ever approved a file only to find out that someone else has requested a change and you need to approve it all over again? Or worse, you approved a file only to discover it wasn’t the right version? 

When approvals don’t flow through one consolidated workflow, it’s easy to lose track of who has approved what, when. It can also result in people “sitting” on files for a long time because someone forgot they had it for approval or it got lost in their email. 

In the worst-case scenario, documents and files can even end up getting published without one of the approvers signing off on them. As you can imagine, this can have significant negative impacts on the project, such as:

  • File quality
  • could suffer.
  • A key component of the file could have been missed.
  • An error may have been overlooked. 
  • Your reputation could be damaged. 

After all, there’s nothing more embarrassing than publishing a “final” file only to discover an embarrassing typo or mistake. 

Digital approvals enable you to organize and bring transparency to the entire approval process by allowing everyone to keep track of the following:

  • What files need to be proofed and approved
  • Who’s responsible for approving a file
  • Each file’s review status in your project management software 

As with digital proofing, compatible file types may vary depending on which tool you select, but typical file formats are:

  • All files uploaded from local storage
  • Public or unlisted YouTube videos

Benefits of proofing and approvals within project software

One of the biggest benefits of having proofing and approvals functionality within your project management software is the ability to keep everything centralized. 

If you use a separate solution for proofing and another for approvals, it’s more difficult to tie revisions requests and approvals to task and project status.

When everything is consolidated, you can easily see the entire project status in one place. This means that if a client is late approving a deliverable, you can clearly illustrate to them how their delay is going to impact the overall project. That way when they’re late with something else, they’re already aware of their own part in that missed deadline.   

Here are two other benefits of having your proofing and approval process within your project management software:

The ability to maintain an audit trail

Have you ever been in a situation where you were asked who approved a particular change, and you had to go scrolling back through hundreds of emails, trying to find the right thread? 

Not only is it time-consuming, but there’s a huge risk that the approval email can go missing or be deleted accidentally. Plus what if the approval email was only sent to one person, and that person is out sick, on vacation, or working in another job? Then you’d have to rely on IT to try to dredge through old records for it. 

With proofing and approval in your software, all your feedback, comments, and approvals are tracked and stored in one centralized location. Which means that anyone with proper security can access them at any time. In other words, your stakeholders won’t even have to ask you the question anymore. They can go see for themselves who approved what changes. 

Greater efficiency for creators, reviewers, and approvers

With markup tools right in your project management software, you can seamlessly connect your creators, editors, and approvers in one location. This means less duplication of files, a clearer history of changes, better versioning control, and more efficient storage. 

According to a McKinsey report, employees spend almost 2 hours every day searching for and gathering information. Which means that having a single source of truth saves everyone time. 

Plus reviewers can make comments directly in the file as they’re reviewing it. Not only does this save them time, but it means that creators can more easily see exactly what needs to be changed. 

By using arrows, free draw, or rectangles, reviewers can give more accurate feedback on images and videos. They can also highlight specific lines of text on PDF documents, so everyone knows exactly what needs to be amended. 

Everyone can also view all of the change requests and comments left by others. So you never again have to deal with someone asking you to change an aspect of a file, right after someone else just asked you to make it the way it currently looks. This visibility means shorter review cycles and less duplication or conflicting feedback. 

Not only can your team review and suggest changes for files, but they can also do it for project tasks. So if a task is unclear or seems to be missing a key component, people can review and revise it right within your software.

Further reading
blog post

3 Ways Your Project Management Software Is Failing Your Clients

blog post

How to Bake Data Handling Best Practices Into Your Project Workflows

blog post

Announcing Video Proofing, Advanced Markup, and Extension for Adobe® Premiere