30+ years in business.


(506 Reviews)

5 Ways to Speed Up Your Document Review and Revision Process

Table of Contents

In the process of creating powerful and impactful written content, the review and revision process plays a pivotal role. “More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting,” author John Irving has said. So it’s no wonder that most business writing goes through a careful review and revision process to ensure the document can meet its intended objectives, whether that’s facilitating effective knowledge transfer, clinching a sale, or adhering to regulatory requirements.

However, without a streamlined approach, document review can easily become laborious and time-consuming. Fortunately, most organizations can easily shorten, streamline, and speed up their review and revision process with a few simple steps.

Speeding up this process is vital to ensuring the written work can achieve a positive ROI, however. A sluggish review can lead to delays, increased costs, and ultimately result in a document that fails to achieve its intended impact.

Why Is Reviewing So Hard?

Unfortunately, document reviewing is a challenging task due to its inherent complexity, the high level of detail and attention it demands, and the skills it requires.

  • Reviewers must know what they’re doing. A good document review isn’t just re-reading and offering generic feedback. Reviewers must be able to read for accuracy, clarity, coherence, and relevance—all while adhering to specific guidelines. The process becomes even harder when dealing with technical or specialized content, as this requires general editorial skills and domain-specific knowledge.
  • Reviewers must know how to give useful feedback. “Change this” isn’t useful because it’s too open-ended. Yet, overly specific edits can be equally unhelpful if the writer doesn’t understand why those changes are required. Formulating useful feedback is both art and science.
  • Reviewers must know how to write. No one can knowledgeably comment on someone else’s writing if they themselves aren’t good writers. If nothing else,  reviewers who can’t write are liable to make a document worse through their edits or comments.
  • Reviewers must be able to collaborate. A complex review process with multiple stakeholders can easily turn into a logistical nightmare with conflicting feedback, missed deadlines, and arguments complicating and prolonging the review process.

5 Ways to Streamline the Review Process

1: Identify Waste

Drawing from “lean” project management principles, one of the most important steps to speeding up a process is to cut waste. In document review, this might include:

  • Bottlenecks that halt progression.
  • Low-value activities such as overly detailed reviews of minor content.
  • Redundant work such as feedback from multiple reviewers on the same issue or sections.
  • Tasks that necessitate rework, such as revisiting previously approved/completed sections.

Solutions include implementing a triage system for feedback to prioritize and consolidate comments and ensuring clear reviewer assignments to prevent overlap.

2. Identify Constraints in the Review and/or Writing Process

Constraints can range from time pressures and insufficient resources (budget, equipment, and/or personnel) to the absence of standardized processes. For example, too little time being allocated to writing projects will result in rushed work that falls short of potential.

Addressing these constraints may involve allocating dedicated resources for the review process, establishing clear timelines, or developing a comprehensive style guide to streamline standards.

3. Map a Clear, Coherent, Standardized Process

A haphazard, ad hoc review process is guaranteed to waste time. A lack of clear guidelines for document style can lead to unnecessary back-and-forth between reviewers and writers and will produce inconsistent, uneven results.

Instead, standardize how the document review process plays out. This standardization will make the process more predictable, reliable, and faster. Process mapping can also help identify unnecessary steps (waste) that can be eliminated.

Start by outlining each step of any existing review process, from initial assessment to final approval. Fill in any gaps with additional steps, then eliminate unnecessary or duplicative steps. Ensure each step specifies each participant’s role(s) and responsibilities.

4. Use Automation

While automating the entire review process would be impractical (and risky), leveraging technology for specific aspects can enhance overall efficiency. For example, tools such as grammar checkers can take on the preliminary task of identifying basic errors, freeing human reviewers to focus on more nuanced or complex aspects. Automated alerts and reminders can ensure timely participation from all stakeholders, which helps keep the review on schedule.

5. Get Training

Effective reviewing is a skill, honed through training and experience. Many reviewers may default to personal preferences rather than best practices in writing and reviewing, potentially leading to unhelpful feedback. By contrast, skilled reviewers can identify key issues more quickly and provide actionable feedback, streamlining the revision process. Training programs that cover the fundamentals of good writing, the role of reviewing in the writing process, and techniques for constructive feedback can elevate the quality of reviews.

To learn more—and figure out more strategies for improving the document review and revision process at your organization—contact Hurley Write for a custom, no-obligation consultation or sign up for our “Better Editing and Reviewing” course.

5 Ways to Speed Up Your Document Review and Revision Process

Contact Hurley Write, Inc.

We’re here to help your team communicate better. Let us know how to reach you.
Prefer to chat? Call us at 877-249-7483
Prefer to chat? Call us at 877-249-7483

(503 Reviews)