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Lesson 4 Approval process
Objective Describe the approval process and strategies for streamlining.

Definition Phase Strategies Streamlining

Approval Process

In past lessons and modules, you learned about the six phases of the Web development process. First there are Discovery and Definition phases, wherein you determine the needs that the Web site will address. Next comes Design and Development, wherein the signs and metaphors are created, followed by Delivery and Post-Delivery, wherein you evaluate the success of your designs.
This lesson will give you greater detail on another aspect of the process that takes place in the Definition phase. The Business role team members will work towards having your contracts approved and signed. Keep in mind that the Web site development process requires client approval at each stage.
Remember: if you design and develop without an approval process in place, you risk having your client reject work or request additional revisions, adding time and expense to the project.

Why worry about approvals?

The creation of signs and metaphors is an iterative process, meaning their use will evolve and improve step-by-step as the site develops. When an internal or external client needs to approve the visuals and text, you must plan the approval process carefully. The goal is to streamline the approval process as much as possible. If buy-in or approval is not obtained on early versions of signs and metaphors, then a high-level stakeholder might demand changes later on, after a significant amount of work is already completed. This results in higher costs and can impact the schedule. Therefore, your effective management of the approval process becomes a success factor.
The following is a sample approval process for creation of User Interface. The steps outlined are formal steps; there may be additional iterative steps as well. The key point to remember is that there must be approval or buy-in from the client before the Web Team continues developing final site content and graphics.

Information Architecture
1) Creative Brief 1 2) Creative Brief 2 3) Creative Brief 3 4) Creative Brief 4 5) Creative Brief 5
Program 1 Program 2 Program 3 Program 4 Program 5
Approval Process Website Development
A similar process should be followed with editorial content. You should gain approval of the Editorial Brief and a content outline before spending resources developing the full site content. For both the Creative and Editorial Briefs, the approval process itself will be facilitated if you follow two general rules:
  1. Educate your client about the phases of the process. If they are aware of the stages of your process, they will be more likely to respond in a timely manner. Clients may be unaware of the many stages the development process must go through before they will see the final product.
  2. When seeking approval of documents, suggest requested return dates. A client who is new to the process may not be aware that you are waiting for approval before proceeding. Again, if you communicate your timeframe to your client, they are more likely to review and sign off on documents promptly. (Note the language in the Proposal regarding the formal acceptance letter of the final product: "Timely return of this letter is requested, and non-response within the defined period of time will imply acceptance.")
Which site to use as object of analysis?
Question: What problems might arise if someone on your team does not facilitate good turnaround time on contract approval?
Answer: Web team sits idle waiting for go-ahead. Or they start working based on unchecked assumptions, and work may need extensive and costly revisions at a later stage.
In the next lesson, you will learn how to construct creative and editorial briefs.