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How to make document approvals faster

By January 23, 2023No Comments

The time between a document’s submission and approval will tell you whether your internal reviews are efficient or in need of review themselves!  

In this post we’ll show you how to map out an approval process and gain efficiencies you may be missing out on. 

What is an approval process? 

An approval process is simply an agreed upon way documents are reviewed. They’re the steps you’ve identified that need to take place before documents are either submitted to clients or published internally.

  

Mapping out your document approval processes 

 

Identify each step from submission to delivery 

  • Think about the current steps in your approval process and consider which are necessary and which can be excluded. From there you’ll have a lean set of steps to build on which can be followed from beginning to end.  

Select who should be involved and assign them to a stage

  • There’s nothing worse than uncertainty over who needs to do what so make sure you’re only selecting people that need to be involved. Think of them in terms of roles like submitters, approvers, and managers so you have a clear idea of what they’re contributing throughout the process.  

Ensure all parties can review and collaborate at the same time

  • Sequential collaboration creates bottlenecks as each person is dependent on another to make progress. Ensure everyone can make edits from the same place at the same time so you’re able to quickly gather and action feedback.  

Have a document management system (DMS) that’s up to the job

  • As the place where all your documents are stored, your document management system can make your approval process considerably faster. Look for a system with a straightforward interface and tools such as full-text search to help you locate documents even when they’ve been misfiled or misnamed. Depending on your chosen system, you may even have task management functionality built in which you can use to conduct your approval process. SuiteFiles includes task management functionality as well as extensive filters so you can clearly see the state of your documents and retain visibility over your work.  

Reflect the differences in internal vs external processes

  • It’s important to account for the different types of documents you need reviewed and be able to change or add steps to suit. For this reason, we recommend splitting your approval processes between internal and external parties.  

Example 

  1. Assign tasks and set due dates for completion.
  2. Assignees receive notification of task.
  3. Assignees review.
  4. Assignees complete review either leaving feedback or a status such as approved or rejected.
  5. Once all signees have submitted a status, the approval process is complete.

 

Benefits to your business 

Improved communication 

  • Businesses tend to have several channels for comms whether that’s direct message, an email, or remembered from a conversation. The disadvantage of this is that pertinent details are separate from the document being worked on so can be missed out in the final product. Document approval processes center comms so you have one place to gather feedback and make edits.  

Greater transparency

  • Submitted work can be followed by statuses such as submitted, in review, or approved. If documents are stalled in one status for too long, you’ll be able to take action and follow up. The end result is greater accountability across your business. 

Standardization

  • Once you know all the steps involved in submitting your documents, you can work without uncertainty and the detective work of figuring out who to contact and when to follow up. This leaves you with a repeatable process that can be followed business-wide and picked up by new hires. 

Improved efficiency

  • Having a standardized, easily repeatable process will allow you to collect your approvals faster and, if necessary, make changes to your documents without being thrown off course. Instead of braving through bottlenecks, you can produce deliverables faster and spend time on other priorities.  

Are your documents sitting in limbo?

Keep them moving with simple-to-use task management and filters to follow up on documents slipping through the cracks. 

Tyler Cruse

Author Tyler Cruse

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