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Project Approval Process Made Easy: 5 Steps & Best Practices

The project approval process is often rushed.

It’s understandable that you want to quickly and efficiently evaluate and launch new projects to stay competitive. 

But a well-defined project approval process is critical to achieving these goals. 

This article will guide you through the steps, benefits, and considerations you should consider before implementing this process.

What is the project approval process?

The project approval process incorporates a structured set of steps that a project must go through before it can begin. 

It is essentially a roadmap that ensures that the right projects are undertaken at the right time and with the right resources. 

A well-defined project approval process can also help you reduce risks, make better decisions, and increase accountability. That’s why it’s important to get it right to avoid problems later on down the line. 

Let me show you how.

Project approval process steps

Because the process involves obtaining approval from various stakeholders, it can be tricky to manage it well.

That’s why I’ve broken down the project approval process into several stages that you may find useful to follow:

  1. Project Initiation: The first stage is about defining the project’s scope, objectives, and requirements. Potential stakeholders are identified, and their needs and expectations are assessed.
  2. Planning: Next, you’ll develop a detailed project plan, which will include timelines, budgets, and resource requirements. This is also the right time to create a risk management proposal and identify potential roadblocks.
  3. Execution: Once you’re happy with all the above, you can begin to implement the project plan.
  4. Monitoring and Control: As with any process, you should make sure that the project’s progress is tracked. This will help you to identify any potential issues and take action fast. 
  5. Closure: Finally, you may move on to reviewing the project’s results and outcomes, assessing lessons learned, and documenting the project’s success.

Remember that throughout the whole process, approvals must be obtained before proceeding to the next stage.

The Benefits of a Project Approval Process

Having a well-thought-through project approval process in place comes with a number of benefits:

Benefit 1: Risk management

It helps reduce risk by ensuring that projects are aligned with business objectives and that resources are allocated efficiently. 

This is particularly important in industries such as healthcare or finance, where regulatory compliance and risk management are critical.

Benefit 2: Better decision-making

A project approval process can improve decision-making by providing a structured framework for evaluating projects. 

What this means is that you can ensure the projects are assessed objectively and based on pre-defined criteria. 

As a result, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about which projects to pursue and which to reject.

Benefit 3: Improved accountability

A project approval process can increase accountability by defining roles and responsibilities and establishing clear metrics for success. 

In turn, this guaranteed that everyone involved in the project understands their role and the project’s objectives. 

A project approval process makes it easy for the project to be delivered on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards.

Benefit 4: Enhanced communication

A project approval process boosts communication by ensuring that stakeholders are involved in the project from the outset. 

The result? Everyone involved in the project is aware of its status and progress, which facilitates transparency and improves trust.

Project approval process examples

Now, I’d like to show you a couple of examples to help me better illustrate how the project approval process may look in action.

Example of a good approval process

I’ve devised this rough approvals plan to demonstrate how you would go about your approval process.

So let’s say you are running a software development company and have a new feature you want to release to your customers:

1. Development

The development team creates and tests the new feature thoroughly in a staging environment.

2. Quality Assurance (QA)

Then, the QA team reviews the new feature to ensure it meets the company’s quality standards and works as expected.

3. Product Management

The product management team reviews the new feature to confirm it aligns with the overall product strategy and customer needs.

4. Legal

The legal team reviews the new feature to make sure it complies with legal or regulatory requirements.

5. Executive Approval

The executive team then reviews and approves the new feature for release to customers.

6. Release

The new feature is released to customers.

By having a clear approval process in place, the company can ensure that they are releasing high-quality features that meet the needs of their customers while minimizing the risk of any legal or regulatory issues.

This approval process example is more or less the starting point we’d like to see when releasing a new feature.

Example of a bad approval process

Now, let’s move on to what you don’t want to be doing.

Let’s say you work for a marketing agency, and your approval process for creating new marketing campaigns is as follows:

  1. Creatives develop a new marketing campaign idea and present it to the account manager.
  2. The account manager approves the campaign idea and sends it to the client for review.
  3. The client reviews the campaign and provides feedback.
  4. The creatives make changes based on the client’s feedback.
  5. The revised campaign is sent back to the account manager for final approval.
  6. The account manager approves the final version of the campaign, and it is launched.

This approval process has a few issues:

Lack of cross-functional collaboration

There is no involvement from other teams, such as legal, compliance, or even the client’s marketing team. 

This can lead to potential legal or compliance issues and a lack of alignment with the client’s strategy.

Too many revisions

The approval process includes multiple rounds of revisions, which can delay the campaign launch and increase costs.

Best practices

Clearly define the project scope and objectives

Before seeking approval for a project, you should define what the project intends to achieve and the scope of work needed. 

This will help ensure that stakeholders clearly understand what the project is for.

Identify and involve all stakeholders

Determinate all stakeholders impacted by the project and involve them in the approval process.

When I say “stakeholders”, I mean, for example:

  • team members 
  • customers
  • partners
  • regulators

Involving relevant people in the approval process will ensure the project aligns with their needs and requirements.

Develop a detailed project plan

A detailed project plan that outlines all project tasks, timelines, and dependencies is essential for getting approval for the project. 

The project plan should be comprehensive, outlining all aspects, from initial scoping to final delivery.

Establish a clear approval process

Try to establish as transparent and streamlined approval process as possible.

This could include:

  • Who has the authority to approve the project at each stage
  • What documentation is required
  • How feedback will be incorporated

Communicate effectively

Effective communication is crucial throughout the project approval process. 

Stakeholders should be kept informed of progress, milestones, and any changes to the project plan or scope.

Monitor progress

Once the project is approved, it’s you can monitor progress to ensure that the project is staying on track and meeting its objectives. 

Provide regular progress reports to stakeholders, and address any issues promptly.

While you could deal with all the approvals yourself, there is a better and faster way to do this – software.

With Process Street, you’ll create custom workflows that align with your specific project approval criteria so all projects are properly vetted and meet the necessary standards before proceeding.

One of the key benefits of using Process Street is the ability to automate the approval process, such as:

  • Sending notifications to stakeholders when projects are ready for review
  • Tracking project progress in real-time
  • Gathering and storing all necessary documentation
  • Collaborating with team members, regardless of their location. 

Here is a free process management process checklist that you can start to use right now. This template provides the basic framework to keep every one of your projects on track and on target.

So why not take a look at Process Street’s website to see how we can help your project approval process?

Project approval process is vital

There’s no doubt that a clear and effective project approval process is essential for success. 

By having a project approval process in place, you’ll:

  • minimize risk
  • increase accountability
  • take your decision-making to the next level! 

Yes, implementing a project approval process may come with challenges and pitfalls, but these can be overcomed by careful planning. 

And don’t be afraid of utilizing relevant tools and software! These can come significantly speed up the whole process and streamline your operations, too.

So involve your stakeholders in the development process, communicate clearly and frequently, and establish clear metrics for success.

If you do, the project approval process will be implemented, and your business will achieve its goals.

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