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 Is Creative Approval Process A Major Bottleneck For Your Marketing Organization?

Most often during the Business Process Re-engineering of an organization, marketing content approval process also commonly referred to as the creative approval process is believed to be one size fits all which results in a dysfunctional process.
A dysfunctional approval process creates unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks which hinder creativity, increases time to market and puts organization at risk of digital compliance violations.
Life science organizations where compliance stakes are higher often tend to make the creative approval more complex, rigid and cumbersome, resulting in inefficiencies and ultimately affecting the bottom-line.
A desirable optimum creative approval process should pass four points litmus test;

1-Are creative teams empowered enough to take decisions at early stage?
The creative teams should be empowered enough to understand, business, marketing, regulatory compliance and legal issues so that repetitive mistakes could be avoided and the rate of rejection at approval stage could be capped. For instance setting up a target of an acceptable rate of rejection at approval stage would be effective tool to reduce time to market without compromising on digital compliance guidelines.
This could be achieved by a) training of creative teams b) providing time to time guidelines about regulatory, marketing or legal issues c) involving creative teams in campaign strategy meetings.

2- Is number of approvers optimum?
It is quite common to have a long list of approvers, for any asset which ultimately make approval process a bottleneck, most people on the list happened to be executives who have different reasons to be on list than approving the content.  The way forward is to identify their interests and provide alternative and effective means to address their interests than blocking the approval process.

Classification of executives

For information: Executives who are on approvers list just because they wanted to be informed of assets being published. They should be provided notifications or dashboard tools and should be taken off from approval process. For examples senior executives like CMO, Vice president Marketing, Customer Relationship Director etc.
Reviewers: These types of executive are not of Primary Business or Regulatory compliance/Legal significance, so they should be invited to provide inputs at the creative stage; however their consent should not be mandatory for the process to move ahead.  This ensures that if they do not revert with in the stipulated time the asset can move forward in the process.
In an ideal situation number of optimum reviewers should be;
1. Business Owner
2. Medical
3. Marketing- only in cases where there is a Primary Marketing Significance
4. Regulatory compliance/Legal- only in cases where there is a primary Regulatory/ legal significance.

Approvers: These are Executives with Primary Business or Regulatory compliance /Legal significance and nothing moves out until they say yes. They are signatories to the assets.
In an ideal situation, an optimum list of approvers should include:
1. Business Owner
2. Marketing
3. Regulatory compliance/Legal

3- Are roles and responsibilities defined?
Defining who needs to review what is the key for setting of efficient approval process.  Everybody should not be reviewing the creative concept of a campaign. The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) should not be micro reviewing each asset published by the department.  Well defined roles and responsibilities ensure that, right text or asset is reviewed, by the right people and at the right time.

4-Is the approval process flexible?
Different assets have different review and approval requirements, so the process should be flexible to accommodate various requirements without compromising on efficiency.  Below matrix could be used as an example of flexible risk based approval;




If answer to any of the above four points is not affirmative, then the creative approval process of that marketing organization could prove be a major bottleneck for growth and success. It may also put the organization at risk of digital compliance violations.  Serious rethinking and professional Re-engineering along the lines of the above mentioned four point framework would help to achieve an efficient creative approval process and ultimately an efficient and compliant marketing organization.


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