Efficiency - Do you timebox approval requests?

Last updated by Tiago Araújo [SSW] 7 months ago.See history

Some managers or approvers can get very busy, and if you don't manage them closely, can cause deadlines to be missed, opportunities to pass by, and work to be wasted. Remember, they're usually doing a lot of other important work, and although approving your piece of work is important to your workflow, it may be less important in the big picture than what is taking up their attention.

The best way to ensure your work is approved and goes live is to physically sit down with the approver and get it approved on the spot. However, if this is not possible due to unavailability, you need to have a back up plan to make sure your work is not wasted.

The best solution in this case is to set an agreed timeframe for any approval, after which time, you will assume a "test passed".

To avoid the approver feeling hard done by, make sure you do the following:

  • The time frame needs to be more than reasonable, to allow the approver time to get to it if it's actually important for them to see
  • The approver needs to be reminded when half of the timebox has expired, and again on the last day, to ensure that they are aware that their approval is about to be bypassed, and can request an extension if necessary. Read Do you follow up tasks effectively? to facilitate this
  • If the approver needs more time, it is ok for them to ask for an extension. It is not, however, ok for them to just say "Don't go live until I've approved it", as this just puts us back in the same position we were in before we had this rule

Figure: Bad example - Chasing an approver with no set timeframe is frustrating and disempowering

Figure: Good example - An agreed timeframe is communicated so there are no surprises

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