Updated December 2023
You bust your tail to turn content around only to watch it languish during the many and varied approvals as your deadlines approach and pass, unnoticed. Bleh! Instead of conceding that reviews are where good content goes to die, why not fix the system?
The best ways to streamline the approval process are:
- Define it carefully. Jot down the current process and note where the bottlenecks occur. Then re-engineer the steps and the people involved so you've got the right people reviewing the right things at the right time. You want sweeping reviews on ideas and content early, smaller items like grammar later.
- Choose reviewers judiciously. Identify the people who need to approve the content and determine their role – do they need to approve the concept, the actual content, or technical stuff like SPUG (spelling, punctuation, usage and grammar)? You might need to take some people out or add some people in depending on politics and skills sets. Laying out the roles and the players will help you get the most helpful feedback from your team and reduce review cycles
- Tell reviewers what you need from them. Instead of asking for a review or approval, be more specific. "I need you to review this for ideas and concepts only", "is this order effective?" or "please only look for SPUG errors". Asking for actionable content ensures you'll get more of it, though it does take some training. The goal of every revision is to make sure the content serves it purpose and meets the audience's needs. (You may need to remind reviewers of this)
- Remind reviewers to read with the audience in mind. This is key to making sure revisions and edits make the content better for users, not for internal reviewers. I like to remind folks who the audience is right on the content submitted for review.
A sample review process
Here's how we structure reviews:
- Check off core concepts with VIPs (SMEs, higher-ups, etc.) Get the scoop on how to get approval.
- Review your own work before sending to others.
- Seek and make big revisions* (tone, main idea, goals, audience). These reviewers should have a big picture view and don't need to worry about more technical input.
- Seek and make small revisions* (word choice, sentence structure, support). These people will read for clarity and concision, tightening the language and working on word choice/voice.
- Seek and make SPUG edits. These folks are the detail-oriented ones who always bust you on grammar or usage. Putting them at the end of the process can actually make them your friend!
Using this approach, you can reduce review cycles and increase actionable feedback to keep your content operation on track.