Managing marketing approvals is among the biggest challenges in marketing management, with 90% of surveyed marketers admitted that approval deadlines are among the main reasons for missing project deadlines.
Admit it, getting something approved in our marketing team or our organization can be a major hassle, which often results in inconsistent and prolonged approval deadlines. This can lead to exponential problems in the long run, as one drawn-out approval timeline will cause another delay for another project.
So, improving the marketing approval process is very important if we want to enhance the marketing operations’ efficiency. The question is, how exactly?
Here we will discuss how you can streamline the marketing approval process in your organization. Yet, let us first discuss the concept of the approval process itself to be on the same page.
What is an Approval Process?
In a nutshell, an approval process is the steps used in an organization when approving anything from documents, budgets, purchase orders, invoices, and projects, among others.
These steps can be standardized, so the organization will use the same steps for every approval process. By creating a repeatable system known by everyone involved in the approval process, we can save a significant amount of time with each approval. So, in essence, a standardized approval process is a type of workflow with a sequence of steps from start to finish.
In the past, the approval process was performed manually, which can be very time-consuming and confusing for all the parties involved, leading to missed deadlines, missed payments, and delayed project completion, among other issues.
This is why automated approval processes are now preferred, and workflow management software is used to ensure standardized, well-documented, and streamlined approval processes for every stakeholder involved. The software can guide stakeholders through the approval process to ensure that every required approval is completed consistently to minimize confusion, maximize efficiency, and save both time and resources.
How to improve Marketing Approval Process
Below are some tips you can use to improve the marketing approval process to make it more streamlined and efficient:
1. Make the approval process as standardized as possible
The first and most important process in streamlining the marketing approval process is to make sure the whole process from start to finish is standardized. If your organization suffers from stuck approval processes over and over again, it is likely caused by spontaneous/ad-hoc approval processes.
While it’s true that different approval processes might have their uniqueness to each other, ad-hoc processes lack transparency and clarity, which will produce miscommunications, conflicting views, duplicate feedback, and other issues. If, for example, there’s a very dominant approver involved, it’s quite often that other stakeholders’ perspectives would be affected, which may also affect the whole approval process in the long run.
To start standardizing your approval process, you should first list every task/step that might be included in the process, then sort them by priority while figuring out the most optimal sequence for these tasks. Also, don’t forget that documentation is an integral part of standardization: document everything carefully, and involve the whole marketing team when discussing the most optimal standardized sequence.
Define the roles of everyone involved in the review process, timelines, objectives for each approval process, and requirements for each complete feedback. You’d want to limit the number of revisions possible for each approval process, which can help reduce time spent for each product and encourage each reviewer to make the most of each ‘round’ of the revision. Implementing this alone can allow your marketing project to move forward consistently.
Also, to prevent projects from being released to the market while breaching regulations and not meeting compliances, ensure your compliance/legal team is strategically placed in the workflow, so when there are any late changes, they are still involved in the process.
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2. Use a workflow management platform to visualize your process
The next step is to put your standardized approval process to a workflow management software. Doing this can provide two benefits:
First, it will allow you to visualize the whole approval process, providing you with more clarity in visualizing flaws, potential bottlenecks, and inefficiencies. Using these insights, you can further improve the already standardized approval process workflow to make it even more streamlined.
Second, a workflow management software will provide a platform where you can easily collaborate in real-time. This will provide more transparency and accountability for everyone involved in the approval process, which, in turn, will improve the approval process itself.
3. Analyze data and improve
Now that you’ve correctly visualized the approval process workflow, you can analyze flaws and bottlenecks in the current process to improve the approval process in the future. Also, stakeholders and reviewers might be the culprit behind the inefficiencies, which must also get evaluated.
Collect as much data as you can (the workflow management tool can do this automatically) and evaluate from different angles to identify what’s slowing the project and figure out how you can improve.
Always keep a strict audit trail of the approval process workflow and adjust the workflow as required based on the data gathered above. Also, stay updated about the latest regulations and compliances related to your product/service, and adjust your approval workflow based on these changes when necessary.
Implementing a standardized workflow can significantly improve your marketing approval process to be more transparent and efficient, ensuring faster project delivery and reduced compliance risks, resulting in your organization saving more time and resources in the long run.
Using the right workflow management platform is also very important to properly visualize the approval process and provide a collaborative place where every approver and stakeholder involved can collaborate in the approval process in real-time. This way, we can improve the transparency and accountability of the whole approval process, improving its efficiency.
About Author: Mike Khorev is an SEO expert and marketing consultant.
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