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5 Tips to Improve Your Routing & Approval Process And Bolster Marketplace Agility

Posted By: SGK December 11, 2014

Approvals are a hot-button issue within any content-rich organization. In large companies, what should be a straightforward process can quickly become bogged down in a complex and time-consuming web of competing agendas, obsolete policies and siloed communications. 

But when it comes to improving speed to market, streamlining your routing and approval process is a challenge worth taking on. Yes, there are often competing internal agendas demanding involvement in approvals, but there is often just as much support for improving this process. 

Our Continuous Improvement Practice team shares these tips for streamlining your routing and approval process:

•    Standardize input collection. Create standardized artwork forms to collect information, and then lock in that information before it moves along in the approval process. A strict input management strategy will reduce cycle time, increase throughput and decrease risk.

•    Define accountability. Ambiguous or incorrect ownership creates an error prone process. Identify a “Workflow Management” expert to own your input collection, project initiation and project management responsibilities. Defining this role will drive efficiencies, eliminate redundant activities, and provide “soft” benefits (e.g., increased capacity for marketing and other participants) and potentially strategic value.

•    Remove unnecessary approval layers. Really dig in and question why so many people need to approve your packaging and promotional materials. The more people involved in approving work, the greater the drain on your organization and your marketplace agility. 

•    Establish parallel path approvers. Serial-path approval processes add queue time, and each queue can add 1-3 days to the process. Instead, look to create a parallel path approval process, which will both reduce queue times and reveal bottlenecks. For example, if R&D is consistently the last approver in a parallel path approval process, the team can then focus on ways to mitigate this issue with increased staffing, or by analyzing current duties and removing waste.  

•    Invest in technology. An online approval tool will let your team annotate a single file in real-time. Investment in a complete packaging workflow solution will enable the organization to increase speed to market, improve quality, minimize risk, and store all creative assets. 

Don’t let the speed to market of your branded materials suffer from additional layers of approvers or decentralized and ambiguous accountability. Your workflow needs to be streamlined and ready to quickly to handle a larger scale of work if required. 

For one CPG, the number of approvers required across all packaging and promotions routing and approval workflows was reduced by 67 percent. This equated to 4,000 hours of annual labor savings and reduced average routing cycle times by over one week.

For more tactics, download 6 Ways To Get Your Branded Materials To Market Faster, by SGK’s Continuous Improvement Practice team.