6 proven ways to make your approval process better

The Compliance approval process can be a bugbear for Marketing teams – slowing your production and creating work via repeated reviews and edits.

Here we look at six tried-and-tested actions you can take to deliver improvements to your sign-off process.

1.  Involve the right people

All too often, the chain of reviewers and approvers is far longer than it needs to be. Sometimes this is because people are unsure who needs to be involved, so err on the side of caution by inviting more people than are needed.

Sometimes, it acts as a form of compliance ‘insurance’: involve more people and you cut the chance of a regulatory breach slipping through the net.

The more people are involved, the more you drag out the sign-off process. Make sure you include the right people – and no more – and you will save time by minimising unnecessary edits.

2.  Create a clear process

If your review process is disorganised, it will increase your stress levels – not to mention being a death-knell for meeting deadlines.

You need to create a clear, streamlined process where roles are defined and timescales communicated. Make sure everyone involved knows what is expected of them. When will they get material to look at? Who should they send feedback to and by when?

3.  Communicate how you want to receive feedback

You also need a clear and understood process for feeding back any changes.

The ‘track changes’ feature in Word and sticky notes for PDFs make edits fairly easy in these programmes – but for other marketing channels, it’s not so simple.

How do you provide suggested edits to your website, for instance? How do reviewers make comments on videos or podcasts?

Many firms are moving towards automated workflows – systems that can allow people across teams and in multiple locations to review, mark up and sign off documents in real time online. If everyone’s edits are immediately visible, you can reduce or eradicate duplication, conflicting instructions and rework.

And did you know that you can also track changes in PowerPoint? This is a handy feature that can help to make reviews more efficient and prevent mistakes.

4.  Make it easy to provide feedback

Once your review team understands how you want feedback to be provided – make it simple to do!

The harder you make it for people to do what you need, the more procrastination you will experience. 

As above, automation can help here. The best automated workflow systems deliver a transparent process and user-friendly platform, meaning that it’s quick and easy for multiple reviewers to make edits simultaneously.

5.  Cut the number of reviews needed

Going round and round the editing and approvals loop is one of the main reasons that delays occur.

Getting your financial promotions to market is a time-critical activity. How can you reduce the number of reviews you need?

In part, this comes back to having a clear process, and in part it’s helped by having a clear (and limited) group of reviewers.

You can also speed things up by minimising the amount of edits needed. If you write content that Compliance can approve first time, it’s easier and quicker to sign off. Our tips on how to produce quality content in less time have more ways to get your material out faster.

6.  Build an audit trail

If you are FCA-regulated, you don’t just need to produce compliant materials. You also have to be able to evidence the review and approvals process that signed them off.

An FCA-compliant audit trail should capture the various iterations of a document, along with reviewers’ comments and the final, signed-off version. If you have a manual process for compliance approvals, this sort of record-keeping is labour-intensive and susceptible to human error.

If you can create a process that automatically captures this audit trail, you save yourself a lot of work and reduce your risk of regulatory breaches.

Take these six simple steps and you’ll remove a lot of the stress from your review and approvals process. To read more about how this plays out in real life, you can download our short case study.

It shows how the Nottingham Building Society:

  • Saved their Marketing and Compliance teams 1500 hours a month by reducing the approval process from 3 days to 1 day per promotion
  • Slashed the time spent on administration by 80%
  • Improved project management, enabling business growth and increased promotional activity without the need to increase staff levels
  • Reduced their risk of breaching internal rules and external regulations
  • Saved £1,800 on internal printing costs in the first 6 months of going paperless

 You can download a free copy here.

Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.

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