Approval Manager Enhanced for Collaborative Proof Approval Management

The latest version of Approval Manager, which is available in a free Express edition, improves its ability to coordinate the often complex task of managing, tracking and scheduling approval processes.

MetaCommunications specializes in developing cross-platform management and workflow solutions for the graphic arts industry, with its flagship product being the Workgroups DaVinci solution for project management and automation. Approval Manager, which includes hundreds of features for automating online proofing and approvals for marketing, creative, web design and production environments, can be run as a standalone product but it's also one of the components of the suite.

The graphic arts approval process can consist of multiple rounds and reviewers, coupled with tight deadlines, lending itself to tools that can simplify and automate the flow to keep projects on track. Approval Manager lets managers build an approval workflow by specifying the stages a proof should pass through, along with due dates and lists of internal or external reviewers. If approved, proofs migrate to the next stage or if rejected, are sent back to production for changes, with the new file added to the approval process. Managers can route uploaded proof files with a single click, with new rounds created in each stage and all comments and annotations tracked with each round.

As proof files move to a new stage, email notifications are sent to the users assigned to the stage, inviting them to participate in the review or notifying production that a proof file requires corrections, with a Review page providing a central repository for tracking all comments, annotations and reviews. Approval Manager is said to support a wide range of hard and soft proofing systems, as well as popular file formats, with PDF at the top of the list for most graphics applications.

Automated file management within the proofing and approval process allows project and traffic managers to organize groups of related files into one proof, such as video, web page or print ad proofing projects, and route them all together. Project managers can have role-based dashboards providing a “command and control center” to manage the workflow of each of their projects. And reviewers can collaborate in real-time using discussion threads within proofs, creating comments, replying to them and attaching files directly to a proof file.

Approval Manager 2013 includes more than 100 new features, with the standout being the shift of its proofing tool to an HTML5 foundation. This frees users from the need to install plugins and ensures consistent operation on desktop and mobile devices. Also noteworthy is Microsoft Office integration, enhanced Adobe CS Editorial Workflow, video and audio proofing, proofing of web pages and online documents, PDF downsampling, real-time collaboration, and white labeling

The on-premise Express version of Approval Manager 2013, which includes unlimited users, storage and proofs, is provided as a free download. The Standard version, also on-premise, adds workflow management and starts at $1995. Then there are the online hosted versions of Approval Manager, which start at $195 per month and can be custom branded and modified to meet the needs of each organization. More information is available on the MetaCommunications site, as well as trial versions.