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Document Review & Approval Process (Tips, Tools & Examples)

Oroson  by Oroson  May 21, 2021

We’ve created the ultimate guide for your document review and approval process. 

Here’s what you’ll find inside:

From the initial draft to the final approval, this guide will teach you how to streamline your process and become more efficient.

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

5 Tips for an Effective Document Review and Approval Workflow

Tools to Help You Streamline Your Document Approval Process

Example of a Simple Document Review and Approval Process

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

5 Tips for an Effective Document Review and Approval Workflow

Having a strong document management and approval process is going to help your team work smarter and faster. 

Whether you’re creating a document review and workflow from scratch or working around one that needs some attention and optimization, our tips for how to get the most out of your document sign-off procedures will keep team members on track and your projects and tasks on schedule. 

Tip #1: Have the right technology

Email attachments just don’t cut it anymore, it’s no secret.

There are a range of solutions available, mainly in the form of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), that can help you track and manage all types of documents  like text, visuals, or videos, through your approval workflow. 

Using the right tools for the job at hand is essential so you can implement automations that can help your documents fly through to the approval phase and out to the client. 

Tip #2: Know your approvers

It’s likely that you’ll have a few different people who need to cast their eyes over any one document you have. 

Ask yourself, does everyone need to be involved at every approval stage? 

Can the client be left off the first couple of rounds of edits whilst your team get the first draft at a stage they’re happy with?

When you know what stage each reviewer is introduced, you need to manage their interactions with email notifications – a key part of any technology that you bring in.

Tip #3: Direct your feedback

Asking for feedback can be a minefield, so you need to direct it properly. 

In the feedback loop that we’ll look at shortly, there will be a few opportunities to invite your team to collaborate. 

If an element such as the colors are set and you only want feedback about the text, or you’ve nailed down the call-to-action but still want notes on the creative element – specify it. 

Opening different threads at each round of edits to ask the specific questions will keep notes targeted at the areas you want to focus on. 

Tip #4: Establish a common feedback language

We all work differently, even simple terms can mean different things to a copywriter and a graphic designer – think about how “add more light and shade” could work for both of these roles for example. 

Set out standards of feedback, such as requiring a solution to be suggested with every problem that gets highlighted. This will make implementing feedback easier and smoother for your team. 

Similarly, the idea of document approval or rejection can mean different things to people – does a rejection start the document workflow all over again, or will you simply go back to the previous iteration? 

Define how your team is going to work with language and your entire process will flow much better. 

Tip #5: Lay out clear time frames

It’s taken as given that your document workflow will have a delivery date for when it needs to be sent to and approved by the client. 

To get to that point, you need to manage smaller segments of time through accurate project management

Having an operating rhythm for when reviewing and approving documents happens will let everyone on the project know what’s going on. 

You can set a time limit of feedback, e.g. 48 hours or set a deadline for reviewers and approvers must respond to a request for feedback, as above. 

Sending out requests for feedback on a set day will also help control the feedback rhythm. 

Keep reading to find a useful list of tools that will help you streamline your document approval process.

Tools to Help You Streamline Your Document Approval Process

In creative projects as in life – you don’t need to do everything by yourself. 

There are plenty of SaaS tools that can help guide and facilitate your approvals process for your team members and stakeholders – it doesn’t have to be handwritten templates and individual emails. 

To help you get your project plan rolling, we’re going to look at four tools you can use for approval of different types of documents you’re working on. 

Tool #1: Oroson

Oroson is a tool designed to make your document review process effortless. 

The document review tool works for pretty much any type of file you can think of, including:

And plenty more besides, making it versatile and great for all the documents that you might need to have reviewed. 

There are plenty of ways you can get your file onto Oroson, too, with integrations with Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive as well as direct uploads from your device. 

Inviting the right people to review your document is simple, with the option to add guests or teammates and assign different roles, such as comment only, as you can see in the image below.

Users can add their comments onto files that have been uploaded by dropping pins or highlighting areas that need changing. 

In terms of video feedback, it’s possible to leave comments at specific timecodes, meaning your creative team will always know exactly where a clip needs to be polished up, as you can see below.

Additionally, comment threads can be opened and users can be tagged, allowing for control of the conversation and you can keep a lid on who gets involved at which stage of the review process. 

There are simple automations built in, too. 

Once you’ve added people to your workspace, it takes no time at all to add them to particular projects where they will get an email notification only when something changes on that particular project. 

Overall, whatever support you need for your decision making and document approval, Oroson is a powerful tool that has the features that you need. 

Ideal for: Creative and marketing teams, designers, writers, content creators

Tool #2: Visme

Image Source: Visme

The second tool we have for you is Visme. 

Visme is a design tool for creating your brand’s complete visual experience

The functionality on the site includes:

Along with other options that will bring your brand to life with creative solutions. 

Once a rough cut has been made of the creative content, team members can be invited to offer their feedback. 

It’s even possible to invite others to collaborate directly – you can give permission to edit to people who can make changes to the work as well as leave comments and feedback, making the role of the primary creator simpler. 

When your creative asset is being reviewed, it’s possible to filter comments and mark them as resolved once the feedback has been implemented on the image or presentation. 

There are automations built into the functionality, too. 

You can personalize what triggers notifications – all comments or only direct replies – and even turn them off entirely. 

When working with visual assets, Visme can support your business process to get things through your feedback loop, get approved by the right people, and through to the launch phase.

Ideal for: Beginners, graphic designers, creative agencies, social media managers

Tool #3: Better Proposals

Image Source: Better Proposals

Our next tool is Better Proposals

Better Proposals is a SaaS that allows you to create and share your business proposals with prospective clients and have them approved and signed off all in one place. 

The site hosts more than 100 templates that you can use, or create your own, to give your proposals the same look and feel as your brand. 

These are templates that have been written by business people, for business people, giving you confidence that you’re hitting the right spot with the language you use. 

Had a super successful proposal? 

You can save the work you’ve done and return to it later to replicate your successful document review process. 

You can create proposals for all kinds of business needs, such as:

And anything else where you need to bid to win a deal. 

This tool is all about getting business signed and sealed – once you’ve created your proposal, including the data and graphics your potential clients will expect to see – you send it off to them and start their approval process. 

It’s possible to monitor the proposal’s progress and see if it’s been opened, helping you decide when a follow-up is necessary. 

What’s more, you can seal the deal right there on the site. 

The software integrates with PayPal and Stripe so that your company can get a financial commitment instantly, without additional needs for invoicing. 

Ideal for: Freelancers, creative agencies, B2B companies

Tool #4: Filestage.io

Image Source: Filestage

When you’re looking for review and approval software for your company’s documents, consider our final tool, Filestage

The tool supports a wide range of file types and allows for accurate annotations, whether it’s at a certain time code on a video clip or in one particular corner of a PDF document. 

You’re able to track which stage each document is at with options to see whether feedback has been completed or if it’s passed the approval phase already. 

What’s more, you get a detailed audit trail of the approval status, with timestamps that confirm who has made the approval and when. 

Filestage enables collaboration, with comment chains to ensure everyone stays on topic and tagging so the right people can be brought in at the right time. 

There are lots of integrations available to allow you to connect your other business tools you use, including:

To mention a few. 

Ideal for: Big companies with lots of documents to approve, marketing teams, design companies

Now you’ve got some great tools to  look at for managing your document workflow process, consider how it all works in practice. 

Example of a Simple Document Review and Approval Process

Once the tools are all in place, it’s useful to understand exactly how your document review cycle will look. 

When you’re running a project or team, getting from the stage of having an idea through to final draft and approval takes time and effort, plus a strong workflow to guide you and everyone else along the way. 

To help illustrate the process, we’re going to be working with a hypothetical example – a graphics design company is making a business proposal and requesting review and approval. 

Let’s see how that process would look.

Step #1: Define your needs

There are plenty of reasons you might want someone to check over the document you’ve created. 

No matter what industry you work in, getting a second opinion and seeking feedback can be useful, and even a necessity. 

Let’s look at three different types of people who might need to use a document review and approval tool. 

Type #1: Students

It’s pretty common nowadays for students to have group tasks assigned, and with lots of people getting a say on the outcome, you need to be able to collaborate effectively. 

A tool for student document approval needs to have easy annotation features that can highlight areas that need to be changed. 

Type #2: Freelancers

Freelance writers, designers, and creators need to get lots of different types of documents approved. 

This can sometimes be on an ad-hoc basis, whilst other times it will be part of their bigger document management system. 

A tool that can bring in clients to review specific documents – like proposals or first drafts – and allow for the collection of accurate feedback is vital. 

Type #3: Businesses

Collaboration is essential in any business, and particularly those that work remotely, will need tools that can share documents and other information seamlessly. 

In a business setting, you may need a colleague to offer a quick opinion before finalizing a document, or require a collective effort on a piece of work and bring in other team members. 

Lots of times, people working in business will need to seek final approval and having that information stored online, with an audit trail, is a safe and effective way to go about it. 

In our example, we’re using a business that requires a potential client to review, give feedback on, and eventually sign-off on a business proposal. 

After understanding what is required for the document to receive approval, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Step #2: Upload your document

We’ve gone through internal design and creation procedures and we’ve put together a graphic design business proposal that we’d like to get some feedback on, in our example. 

Using Oroson, it’s a simple process to upload a document, with all of these options to choose from:

Simply click on the “+” icon in your project to find this menu, or you can drag and drop your files directly into your board to upload them.

Once your file is stored safely in Oroson, you’re now able to invite your reviewers to give their feedback. 

In our case, we’re asking for feedback from key stakeholders in the target business’ operations department. 

A link gets sent out to everyone you invite so they can comment on your document, without even needing to sign up. 

From here, it’s time to move onto step three of your review management process. 

Step #3: Annotate on your document and share your feedback

With everyone granted access, it’s now time for annotations to be added to your document. 

Using Oroson, you can ask a specific question that you would like your reviewers to confirm, as seen below:

Comments about anything else can be added throughout the document, as many times as needed. 

You can request the reviewer to confirm what their internal processes are for this type of work to help manage your turnaround expectations. 

It’s also an opportunity for collaboration. 

It’s possible that your business uses different terminology to the prospective client or they want to switch out one service for another. 

User interaction during the review and annotation process will make these details get smoothed out quicker and keeps everything in one place for future reference. 

On to the final step for reviewing and approving documents with your clients. 

Step #4: Create different versions of the document and refine your process

Depending on how the review and annotation phase goes, you may need to complete a few rounds of a feedback loop before you’re ready for approval of the final draft. 

Once the first round of feedback has been gathered, it’s time to hone the document, update what’s been pointed out, and potentially resubmit it for more feedback. 

Try to avoid too many feedback loops – you don’t want to keep routing the document back to the client and tiring them of the whole process. 

For final approval, it’s worth creating a list of your tasks in Oroson, like in the screenshot below. 

You can ask your approvers to confirm the proposal has been accepted by ticking off their name and/or adding any additional comments as needed. 

From here, you can ask your new clients how they found the process – as well as seek input from other team members – to understand if there are ways that you can improve your business processes for next time. 

Now we’ve covered the whole creative process of document approval, let’s wrap  up. 

Now Over to You

You now have a bulletproof business process for efficient review and approval of your creative projects.

We hope that this guide will help you speed up the process of creating your deliverables and to shorten the review cycle.

Remember that the review and approval workflow process that we just described as an example can – and must – be adjusted to your specific needs.

All in all though — and because no one wants endless back and forth after submitting the first draft — setting up and maintaining a process around review and approval is essential if you want to be more effective and deliver better work.

If you want to take your document review and approval process to the next level, then we’d recommend taking Oroson for a test drive.

Our approval software will allow you to  add annotations, see the approval status of a document in real time, and shorten the approval cycle significantly.

Simply sign up for a free trial and see what Oroson can do for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Your document approval process not only makes your life easier, it presents a professional and polished impression to your clients and partners. 

Here’s some of the questions that often crop up around the topic. 

Q1. What is an approval process?

An approval process is a set of steps that you take to get a document or creative asset from the first draft to finally being approved by the client or your department head. 

It starts with choosing the right tool, laying out your approval process, seeking feedback and refining the document, before requesting final approval. 

Q2. What is the meaning of document review?

Document review means you ask colleagues, partners, or clients to look over your documents and give you constructive feedback. 

This should allow you to improve your deliverables and meet your client’s expectations. 

Q3. How do I approve a document?

There are many ways you can go about approving a document; here at Oroson we believe our tool is perfect for the process. 

As the approver, you ask the document creator to send it over to you, then you can mark it up and annotate it as you see fit, before confirming your approval with a comment or a tick on a task list. 

Q4. What is the difference between a quality assurance process and an approval process?

Quality assurance is an ongoing process within a business that monitors the standards of the outputs to ensure they meet internal, regulatory, and legal standards. 

In comparison, an approval process is generally for on-off deliverables and can bring in external stakeholders who have ordered the project. 

Q5. How is an approval process different from a review process?

A review process is when you invite people to check over your document to ensure it’s fit for purpose and has no room for improvement. 

On the other hand, an approval process requires a person at the end of the steps to give the final go-ahead. 

Q6. How do I request approval?

Each business will have a different process to submit a document or other work for approval. 

Using a tool such as Oroson will allow you to send an email or link to the person who needs to approve your work and invite them to comment and approve your final draft. 

Q7. What’s the best software for document review and approval?

Call us biased, but we’d say that Oroson is the perfect tool for reviewing and approving documents. 

Using our automations will reduce the time you need to allow for your review and approval process by collecting all your feedback in one place, allowing for real-time collaboration, and letting people comment and approve your work without signing up. 

Featured image by Bench Accounting on Unsplash.

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