Monday 27 August 2007

Tackling the document approval problem

A new web 2.0 tool called Approvr, currently in Beta, is a web-based Approval Workflow Manager to give users a faster, more efficient way to manage proofing and approval of documents.

It aims to solve the problems of document approval:

most organisations use email and attachments to manage their approvals. This means a large number of emails, multiple attachments, inbox filters, firewall attachment limits, late responses, collation of comments, organising revisions, checking and repeating the process again and again until everyone agrees with the final version.

With regulatory compliance acts such as Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) requiring detailed audit trails of ownership and responsibility for change within organisations, the workload on high pressure individuals such as project managers has increased.

I have seen the problems that can arise, some examples include:

  • The sign-off email for a particular document has been deleted in error.

  • The sign-off email is stored but the incorrect version of the document is attached.

  • Non-standard sign-offs, with insufficient detail resulting in a failure to meet governance rules.

Problems can also arise during the process of iterative review. You create the document, send it to the X number of associated parties, and you receive a number of emails in response. So you update the document again, however in the meantime, more comments come in, and the result can be chaotic.

I like the basics of this product, however it's adoption by large organisations may be hampered by the fact that the documents are uploaded to Privacy and security are key, but a version of approvr implementable behind the firewall could attract a huge potential market.

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