The process of creating a document, sending it out for review and approval, for as many times as it takes before publishing it, can be a nightmare. The more eyes on the document, critical the material, and personalities involved, the higher the probability of delays and stalls in your project(s). Many solutions have been created to address this problem, but we think the best approach is through document review process automation.
Documents, for the sake of this article, can be anything from internal policies to sales flyers. They can be printed documents, electronic documents or even web pages. The workflow for these documents include a series of steps that happen in sequential order, or concurrently, and they include 5 stages, namely: create, review, approve, update and publish. For example:
Concurrent Review Process: John writes a policy and sends it to Jane in HR, Chris in Operations, and Paul, the GM. The three reviewers make independent edits and send it back to John. He makes the changes and resubmits the document to the three reviewers. They all approve, sending it back to John who then publishes the document.
Sequential Review Process: John writes a policy and sends it to Jane. Jane requests edits, returns it to John. John sends it to Jane who approves it and sends it to Chris. Chris approves it and sends it back to John. From there, John publishes the document.
The sequential document review process can also include external users (clients, vendors, suppliers, etc.) into the workflow. Some examples of processes that includes external users are proposals, contract review and acceptance, and content review and approval.
The problem is when the review process gets stalled, it becomes inefficient, due to multiple copies of the document being circulated, a lack of collaboration, a lack of timeliness and/or accountability, confusion as to the reviewer’s comments, etc.
When it comes to automating a document review process, the most effective approach is to use a cloud based solution that offers a variety of workflow automation capabilities and user notifications.
We suggest Process Director workflow management software. Process Director streamlines the review process by providing:
- The reviewer’s comments to be immediately available to all parties to reduce redundancies
- Searchable tracking of changes, including reviewer name, date of change, etc.
- The ability to apply annotations such as virtual sticky notes, highlighting and free-form drawing tools
- Automatic conversion of source documents into viewable formats
- The ability to set permissions for different users to protect specific documents
- Suggested changes overlaying the documents and stored separately for author to accept or reject the edits without compiling multiple documents or versions
- Notifications and alerts to create accountability and/or trigger the next action to be completed
- The ability to toggle all reviewer comments or only one at a time
- The creation of forms to pre-define how content is submitted
- Scalable workflows that define the task, participants and rules that govern how the process advances
- Archives of the original document, as well as tracked changes for future reference
Overall, Process Director takes the best of both offline and online document review process strategies to allow participants to collaborate more effectively in real time. To learn more, contact one of our process management specialists for a free demonstration of Process Director.