Marketing is all about staying on top of the latest trends, responding to developments, and keeping the content that you produce unique, fresh and current. As a result, it requires an efficient team of individuals working collaboratively to create the best content possible.
Each new asset should be reviewed and approved by at least several people. Incorporating the input of all the stakeholders involved will keep content unique and of a high quality. However, managing these feedback loops is not easy. This is where online approval software can help. These tools will replace your time-consuming and nerve-wracking email ping pong with a streamlined process.
What Is Approval Software?
Approval software is a type of online proofing tool that helps managers and creative teams oversee and automate this final step in content creation workflows.
Before a new marketing asset can be released to your audience, it needs approval from different stakeholders, such as managers, colleagues, or clients. By making requesting approval a standardized step in the asset creation workflow, you can ensure that every text, design or video you publish is on-brand and mistake-free. Approval software simplifies the review and approval step for new content by establishing a more efficient and organized workflow.
What Is an Approval Process?
An approval process covers everything that may be created in an organization – from multimedia assets, to written content or even elements that have been redesigned. Using approval software, creators can upload a finished asset and submit it to all stakeholders for approval. Stakeholders access the document using the same cloud-based software and either suggest changes or give their approval online.
An example of specialized approval processes in practice is the set of document review and approval processes. You can also adapt these steps for multimedia content, marketing resources and redesign materials.
What Are the Main Features of Approval Software?
Approval software is designed to make teams’ approval processes simpler and more efficient. The tool makes it easier for creators to submit their work as it simply requires an upload to the cloud-based platform.
Review approval tools make collaborative work seamless. Provided features include:
- A centralized platform to upload and access files
- A clear structure for housing files in projects and folders
- Multiple review steps for different reviewer groups
- The ability for users to leave and discuss comments and annotations directly on files
- A formal way for the reviewer to submit their decision
- An integrated to-do list
- A tool to assign due dates
- Automatic review reminders for reviewers
- Clear file versioning
What Are the Benefits of Using Approval Software?
According to some fascinating research by The McKinsey Global Institute, workers spend around 13 hours checking their inbox and communicating via email every single week, on average. This represents almost a third (around 28%) of the time that they spend at work.
For any skeptics who are still wondering why their current email-based approval workflows should be shifted to online proofing processes, these six key benefits of approval software are convincing.
- You can improve your quality control and ensure consistent and high-quality content.
- It saves a lot of time as each asset will require fewer review rounds.
- You can reduce misunderstandings, as the comments provided by other people will be clearer and easier to understand. This will eliminate fragmentation in your team and guarantee that everyone’s contributions are heard and considered.
- No feedback will get lost or overlooked.
- It provides teams with more transparency – not just at the final approval stage, but throughout the entire review and approval process.
- If an individual is off work, colleagues can easily jump in.
10 Approval Software Solutions to Simplify Your Workflows
Now that we’ve demonstrated why any email approval processes need updating, we recommend some of the top cloud-based document approval tools available today. With this round-up of approval tools, you can easily identify the best approval workflow software for your business.
Filestage simplifies the content review and approval process for everyone involved. This online proofing software makes it easy to share, discuss and approve files such as PDFs, videos and images with colleagues or external partners.
Invited reviewers can leave comments and annotations directly on the file and discuss changes with each other in real time. This makes collaboration simple, fast and stress-free.
Filestage’s centralized platform allows project managers to organize the review process with different stakeholder groups while always keeping track of a file’s status. This way, Filestage saves time, ensures transparency and reduces misunderstandings during the entire approval process.
ProofHub is an online document approval application that is designed to assist with the project management of creative workflows. This collaborative tool is intended for a wide variety of users and can be scaled up or down to suit the size of the business.
The software is designed to make communication easier across teams and invested parties. ProofHub provides users with an integrated group chat function, automated online workflows, and discussion boards as well as the capability to create their own boards for each project. It can also assist remote workers away from their desks, as the software can be accessed via any device using an Android or iOS operating system.
Approval Studio is a tool that is specifically designed to help teams that create labels, graphics and branded artwork. This software enables teams to better organize their workflow by assigning specific tasks to each team member, based on the requirements outlined in the review requests. Through this tool, teams can capitalize on each other’s strengths and insights to create new artwork.
With Approval Studio, annotations and discussions can take place in real time, allowing the team to work together on the same document. Additionally, it provides clear status tracking and version control tools to ensure thorough management of creative workflows.
GoVisually is designed to banish the stress and confusion that comes with providing creative feedback via email. This proofing tool allows creators to invite managers, colleagues, clients and any other invested parties to join the conversation surrounding a new piece of artwork.
This online document approval software is designed for the operations of creative teams, design studios and agencies, as well as creatives working independently. However, it is important to note that the software does not provide the tools required to manage a diverse group of campaign materials at the same time. Although GoVisually does not offer as many features as some of the other tools in this list, it does provide a quick and easy solution to creative project communication.
Aproove is a work management tool that offers users a wide variety of different intuitive aids to collaborative working. These features include the multi-function markup tool which allows users to add virtual sticky notes to an image or make markups free-hand. Users can also extract text that is embedded in the image and edit it or add review requests in a fixed box on the image.
With Aproove, users can also access kanban views, project dashboards, create professional and customized forms, and oversee document version management. This all-in-one tool is aimed at creative brands, as well as companies in industries such as insurance or procurement that may be looking to automate processes such as invoice approval.
GoProof is an online collaborative platform created by Oppolis Software for the use of creative teams and marketing departments.
The cloud-based software facilitates a more organized approval process for both digital and print-based media. Moreover, GoProof is intended as an addition for teams that currently use Adobe Creative Cloud. It provides a centralized location for different team members to access content and either issue feedback or make the required adjustments.
GoProof’s dashboard is user-friendly; it is simple for clients, colleagues from another department, or external parties to leave their comments through the software too.
ReviewStudio is a proofing platform that helps teams create new marketing material collaboratively. It is specifically made for marketing and creative teams, video producers, photographers, freelancers and advertising agencies.
Users can upload videos, images, web content and PDFs to ReviewStudio’s platform; this content can then be accessed by managers. Markups and comments can be left directly on the file, and managers can then track revisions via the integrated task management feature. Review sessions can even be undertaken live, enabling collaboration in real time.
WebProof is a piece of online proofing and approval software that is ideal for projects that have multiple contributors or editors from more than one department.
The software serves as a centralized, online location where contributors can upload their work, and reviewers can easily drag and drop comments on specific areas of the project.
WebProof is designed for graphic businesses and creative teams as well as more complex documents produced by magazines and newspapers. In the case of such publications, the approval process can be especially complicated, requiring an ongoing series of reviews and amendments from a large number of individuals.
LookAt is specifically designed to assist with the approval process of video projects. It is a sophisticated tool that includes a number of specialist features to aid both videographers and managers.
LookAt’s features include the ability to make comments and edits in real time, clear version management, the ability to compare different versions directly alongside each other in a split screen, and a 360º virtual reality production platform to gain a sophisticated overview of a new project.
The software can be used alongside a number of popular video editing and creation tools, including Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premier, and Nuke Studio.
Ziflow is a piece of online approval software that is designed to assist with approval workflows at an enterprise level. The application supports over 1,200 different file types while offering advanced solutions in the form of a project management tool. It provides contributors with real time visibility of the review and approval process, as well as notifications about any developments related to the project.
Ziflow centralizes the approval process by streamlining workflows and enabling secure collaboration between team members. It offers solutions to teams working in a wide variety of industries, including creative and digital agencies, technology, healthcare, retail and finance.
Example of an Approval Process Managed with an Approval Software
Once you have implemented your choice of approval software into your workflow, you will notice an almost-immediate uptake in efficiency.
This process works well for a wide variety of different marketing materials, including for projects such as establishing an automated social media approval process and improving the approval processes of artwork and design.
In order to ensure that the transition to digital approvals is undertaken as smoothly as possible, we outline an example of an online approval workflow below.
1. Share your asset with the reviewers.
Once the creator of the asset has finished the first draft, it can be uploaded to the software platform. Then, reviewers can be provided with access to the asset.
With Filestage, users can upload the asset in a specific project folder and then invite reviewers to the new document via an online invitation.
TIP: Once you have invited reviewers, set a deadline for their feedback. This helps minimize hold-ups in the process.
2. Reviewers leave and discuss feedback.
With Filestage, reviewers can leave their comments directly on the file, whether it’s a text document, video, image or audio file. Additionally, reviewers can discuss their feedback with each other in real time in the comment section.
TIP: Annotation features help reviewers to make their feedback even clearer, e.g. by framing the section where the logo should be added.
3. Editor adapts the asset and uploads the new version.
After the first review round, the content editor usually implements the requested changes.
With Filestage, the editor can easily upload the new version of the asset to the platform, ready for a second review.
TIP: Automatic versioning features in online approval software ensure that everyone has a clear overview of the progress of the asset.
4. Reviewers leave additional feedback or approve the asset.
With Filestage, reviewers will automatically be notified that there is a new version ready for review. Then, they can either leave comments and request additional changes or, if they are satisfied with the second version, give their approval to the file with just one click.
TIP: If you are the editor, add a comment to the new version that summarizes the changes that have been made. This will make it easier for the reviewers to make their decision.
5. The approved asset can be moved to the next step in the review process.
With Filestage, if your approval process consists of multiple review steps for different stakeholders, you can use the drag and drop function to move the approved asset to the next review step. The next round of reviewers will be notified automatically once they are invited to the review step.
TIP: Plan who should review and approve your asset in advance. That way, you will have a structured approval process in place and ready for the asset.
6. Final approval and publication.
After the asset has received final approvals from all stakeholders, the approval process is finished. The asset can now be published or shared.
Some parts of this workflow may be familiar as you may be using written forms or emails to achieve something similar. However, the use of online approval software is essential for any business strategy that requires collaborative work.
As you can see in the example above, an automated, online system makes it infinitely easier to not only provide feedback but take action on it too. These highly efficient approval processes save teams considerable time while also enabling them to improve content.
Ready to Improve Your Approval Process?
We hope that this outline of approval software helps you get started with updating any time-wasting email-based processes. By using an automated approval workflow, you can finally start maximizing your team’s talents and creative contributions to thrive your company’s marketing strategy.