5 Tips to Streamline Approval Workflow & Eliminate Distractions

By Jodie Byass


Workday interruptions have become commonplace across many professions today. Responding to relentless emails, phone calls, meetings, urgent work (the list goes on), have proven to reduce productivity. Additionally, studies show that distractions are putting more pressure on workers making them increasingly prone to tiredness and error.

With clunky approval workflow, tedious administration and manual processes, creative teams are not immune to these issues. But there is light at the end of the tunnel.  In this post, we'll show you how to streamline approval workflow, eliminate those workday distractions and let your creativity flourish.


1. Plan your workday

On a daily basis, plan your workload so that you can set aside uninterrupted time to be creative. If it's viable, spend your creative time in a quiet space away from others to reduce the risk of interruptions. If this isn?t possible, then let your colleagues know that for X amount of time you will be unavailable. This way, if they want to speak to you, they will have the opportunity to do so before or after this time. If necessary, place a 'Do not disturb' sign on your desk and put your phone on silent. Do not attend to emails during this time.

2. Structure, structure, structure

Typically, interruptions are experienced by creative teams when their approval workflow lacks structure. That is briefs come through incomplete, stakeholders drag their feet on approvals, the wrong artwork is updated, marketing approvals have missed key stakeholder feedback, email approvals get lost, and so on. This means whoever has to deal with these issues in the creative team will have to stop what they're doing and chase them up.

The good news is this can be remedied with a review of your approval workflow. Check that you have clearly defined processes to protect your creative team from interruptions. Your approval workflow should ensure that: everyone is using customised brief templates so that the correct information is captured from launch; artwork is sent to the right stakeholders at the right time; approval deadlines are set out and strictly adhered to; a failsafe method is in place so that only the latest artwork is ever updated; and emails are filed immediately so that feedback and approvals are saved and easy to locate.

3. Implement approval workflow software.

There are many ways to improve approval workflow, but recently there is a trend towards efficient software. While technology can be a major interrupter to our work lives, there are cloud solutions in the marketplace that can help creative teams better manage their workday. Approval workflow software can help you manage projects, from briefing to feedback to approvals, in one central online platform. The beauty of this kind of solution is that it cuts down on tedious administration, artwork revisions and errors. Additionally, any stakeholder can log in and track work, which saves you or one of your team having to provide manual WIP reports. Some solutions also provide tiered approval paths, automated reminders for approvals, and resource and digital asset management.

4. Avoid unnecessary meetings

Obviously there are meetings you can?t avoid, especially ones that pertain to critical elements of your project. Nonetheless, we all know when our presence is not critical, so ask to be excused from the meeting and get someone to send you the action points afterwards. Alternatively, if you need to be in a meeting but have blocked out time to be creative, ask if it's possible to postpone it or bring it forward. Work in progress meetings can actually be avoided with approval workflow software which gives management the ability to look at a summary of work at any time. Likewise, the software?s reporting tools remove timely manual tasks such as creating WIP reports in just seconds.

5. Note down your interruptions so that you can plan to avoid them

This is an interesting exercise to do, because while you might be aware of your major interrupters at work there might be others you're still blinded to. For example, do you sit next to a chatty work colleague? While a bit of banter at work is fine, if you're constantly being interrupted to listen to someone's latest movie, TV or restaurant review, it might be time to find ways to quell this behaviour. Usually a direct but polite conversation about having to focus on work without distractions should do it. Perhaps offer to make a time during lunch to catch up.

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If these 5 tips struck a cord with you, and you are keen to learn more about how approval workflow software can improve your processes and help your creative team, download our free white paper: Understanding Approval Workflow Solutions now!

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