Zapproved Opens Doors to Help You With Approvals

zapproved-previewWe’ve written about Zapproved in the past including a brief review by Mike Gunderloy and a brief mention by me in a useful tools roundup. The application is so simple that you might think all that can be said about it has been said, but with their official launch happening today, I thought I’d dig a little deeper to give you a little bit more.

First, it is important to note that Zapproved is just the first of many tools from the company of the same name, whose mission – according to their web site – is “to invent technology that minimizes organizational and social barriers to decision-making.” The operative word for anything Zapproved will release is simple. The inspiration for Zapproved came when founder Monica Enand, a former Intel-er and IBM-er, heard from others about the pain of getting decisions made amongst many far-flung individuals.

Enand decided there was a need for a lightweight tool that anyone could figure out quickly and use immediately. While the tool is targeted at bigger companies with many workers involved in decision-making who have been frustrated with email approval systems or feature-heavy (read: complicated) project management systems that don’t integrate a clear approval system, Zapproved can work really well for distributed Web workers coming together on projects virtually. (There is also the personal use of Zapproved for anything that needs consensus building from getting together for a toddler play date to where to hold the family reunion, but we’re not that kind of site.)

How many of us are still using email for consensus building?

Zapproved’s presentation deck quotes Robert Scoble who said that “the number of emails it takes to get something done equals the number of people emailing squared.” Now isn’t that the truth! Enand talks about the “spaghetti process” of email-enabled decision-making. Zapproved is meant to provide transparency, accountability, and a clear record of all communications surrounding a decision and you can even limit it to simply Approved or Not Approved to cut out all the distracting opionated chatter if you really want to be a dictator.

zapproved_launch_overview_12_10pdf-page-9-of-14You can attach files to any Project you set up for approval. As the initiator of the approval process, you do need to sign up for Zapproved so it saves all the data of your projects in a dashboard/message center for you, however, those who respond are not required to sign up – all they have to do is click on a big button to take action. You can now view the status of both the Projects you initiate and the ones others have sent to you for your input in one convenient location.

Zapproved is introducing its fee structure with its official launch. You can still get a free version but the premium version allows you to archive your Projects for longer periods and attach larger files as well as brand your proposals, especially handy when your clients and vendors are involved in the approval process. They do offer discounts for teams that sign up at once as well as nonprofit organizations. Cost is $12/month or $120/year. Group Plans are available for organizations with 20 or more people for $100/month or $1000/year. The official version has added blog-style comment threads, status bars, personal avatars, RSS feeds and contact groups for added functionality.

Enand considers Zapproved to be much more like Evite than more complicated systems i.e. even your mom could use it. But with an eye toward enterprise-level problems and solutions, Zapproved doesn’t want the simplicity of its tools to fool you and don’t let “enterprise-level” turn away all you Web workers drowning in email approval-go-rounds.

And coming soon: Outlook integration in the form of a toolbar, electronic signatures and verifications, and a standalone iPhone app although the new release does allow answers from both the iPhone and Blackberry.

Are you still using email to get approvals from many people at once? If not, what solution are you using and how does it work for you?

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