Do you have the tools for a pain-free creative review and approval process?

Pieces of a puzzle

By Mike Puterbaugh

Posted on 09-10-2020

Creative teams know that one of the keys to being successful is meeting deadlines. However, we all know that hitting speed bumps once a project kicks off is unavoidable, so the tools and workflow your team relies upon must be flexible, while still adhering to a larger standardized process.

The proliferation of digital marketing channels has resulted in an explosion of demand for content from marketing teams. At the same time marketing cycles have shortened dramatically, so marketers need to produce more content in less time — but with the quality required to create strong engagement with their target market.

The ideation, development, and delivery of a project should be a collaborative process, and the right workflow can make that a reality. This has never been more true with the dramatic shift to remote and work from home working.

The right tools enable team members to be both creative and efficient, no matter where they log in from. But what about email?

Memos, promotional offers, and password resets — these are all things that email is very good for. As a mechanism for providing creative feedback and approvals, however, it lacks some very important requirements for fast, accurate, and quality work — specifically, context and clarity.

Going beyond project management

Content review and approval isn’t a creative project management issue. It’s a project management task or step, to be sure, but the actual act of proofing marketing content shouldn’t be categorized as just a project management responsibility.

But these systems are just that: a shell structure for progress reports and deadline assignments.

What’s often missing is the actual ability to make the changes directly on or within the content itself and advance a project to the next iteration.

Project management systems can provide updates on the progress of iterative changes and facilitate conversations around these drafts, but they don’t actually enable iterative changes to be made on files themselves and often split feedback into multiple conversation streams that have to be compared against content files or versions.

The right tools for creative review and approval

The best tech is tech that makes your life easier. Controlling lights with your phone, asking a digital assistant to turn up the thermostat, and even getting robotic vacuums to run autonomously are all awesome technology developments.

The same is true when it comes to building creative workflows. With the right technology, you can streamline the review and approval process and make your (work) life easier, every day.

Here are some examples of technologies that can take the pain out of the review and approval process:

  1. Online proofing software: Using online proofing software like Ziflow, feedback will be attached directly into the project your team is working on, instead of getting lost in an email thread. Any feedback will be automatically shown as comments and attachments inside a creative asset for your team to see:

    Online proofing example using Ziflow
    Online proofing tools also allow you and your team to comment using shapes like lines, arrows, squares, ovals, and text select, which is perfect for giving specific and actionable feedback within creative assets.

  2. Native plugins for your creative apps: When designed correctly, native plugins can eliminate iteration delays by bringing the power of collaborative review, approval, and versioning directly into the creative process: Designers and editors can manage the editing, exporting, collaboration, and approval of design content right in the applications they use every day. A great example of this would be the Ziflow plugin for Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects.

    Screenshot of Premiere Pro

  3. Integrating your collaboration apps with your review and approval process: Our most popular integration requests at Ziflow are focused on two key areas: real-time collaboration tools and project management apps. Integrating apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams into your creative review and approval process — and ideally, via your online proofing application — is a great way to keep stakeholders informed and notified of a project’s process in real-time. For those organizations that do want the creative review and approval process to fit within the larger project scope, extend your online proofing operations with integrations using apps like Clarizen,, or Trello. This can allow a larger team to contribute and participate in the review process while letting team members work in apps they’re most conformable with.

When considering the core benefits of implementing new technologies into your review and approval process, it’s important to also factor in the impact of the status quo. The impact of leaving inefficient processes unchecked can have significant opportunity costs associated with them, which could potentially stunt long-term growth.

One key area where the status quo could have ripple effects later in a process is the lack of a strong compliance review process.

For many industries, creative content needs to meet strict compliance requirements and can include, but not be limited to the following:

The risks of non-compliance can be significant — lost customer confidence, financial penalties, and legal liabilities to name a few. This is all before any re-work, often an unrecoverable cost in the agency world is, required.

What’s more, people care when brands are compliant. Studies show Millennials will spend more on brands that act with transparency, and they have no problem talking about brands that do the opposite.

Every member of the organization, especially those in creative roles, are susceptible to compliance risks. While knowledge of these risks is important, it’s also essential that organizations empower their marketing teams with the tools to ensure compliance across each step of the review and approval process.

If you’d like to learn more about how Ziflow’s online proofing solution can help take the pain out of your creative review and approval process, visit our website at

Adobe MAX – The Creativity Conference

Luminary speakers, celebrity appearances, musical performances, global collaborative art projects, and 350+ sessions — all at no cost.

Watch MAX on demand

Topics: Adobe MAX, Events, Creativity, Insights & Inspiration, Creative Cloud,