We sat down for a Q&A with Anthony Imgrund, project manager at international advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB). Imgrund has perfected the process of adopting new work management software and has some excellent insight.
Marcus: How do you get buy-in for people? I feel like a lot of times when you’re asking people to do something new, you have to make them a promise of what it’s going to change. Yes, they have to change for it, but how is that change worth it?
Anthony: The first thing we emphasize when onboarding one of our agencies is the interconnectivity of all the projects, work requests, and reports when you have them in a single solution like Workfront. Not only was every office using a different solution, but every project manager or account person had a different way of keeping track of things. This meant they ended up spending a lot of time in status meetings, communicating out changes several times a day, and updating different status reports, both internal and client-facing.
Now, they just have to change the due date on that one task and the project recalculates, everyone whose due date changed is notified, and every report pulling in information from that project is updated almost instantly.
There is also this fear that a technology solution or automated process means we lose all human interaction. We make sure agencies understand that Workfront isn’t there to eliminate those interaction and meetings. What we are trying to do is have more focused meetings.
Why have a status meeting be a round robin about what everyone is working on when we can say, "Okay, here are the projects that are red; these are the ones that are late or running behind. Let’s focus on them.”? Why worry about the green projects right now? They’re green; they’re doing great.
Hopefully, we are then able to either cut some status meetings completely, have them weekly as opposed to daily. Or they’re 15 to 30 minutes, more like stand-ups than they are full-on status meetings, because we just need to focus on what’s in trouble.
That’s what we sell.
Use a Three-Phase Adoption Process
Marcus: It seems like you take more of a long-term view to the whole adoption process than a lot of people do.
Anthony: We normally set up three phases as we talk with the executive sponsors and the superusers.
1. We start with a look at the policies and processes. A technology solution only works if you’ve first taken the time to figure out how it fits in your overall process. And while we do start with an executive sponsor to get the ideal state of where we want to end up, we also like to talk to people “on the ground.” These subject matter experts help us know the reality of the processes embedded in the agency’s culture and usually end up being our superusers and advocates for the tool.
We want to take what is actually happening at the agency, look at the ideal process the executive sponsor would like, and then find a compromise or develop an action plan to get there.
2. We address the immediate need. Workfront is amazing and does so much, but no agency is able to just jump in with all the amazing functionality. We take a look at the agency’s immediate need or that main pain point we can help solve.
In some agencies, it’s task management. We might hear, “I just need a report of what is due today," and, at that moment, that’s all they care about. So, we’ll focus on what tasks they need to capture and help create the first set of templates for them. We’ll ask them to send us what they’ve been using in Project, Excel, Google Docs, etc., so that when they are ready to launch, there are templates already in there for them to use.
Other examples of immediate needs are managing email requests that come into shared mailboxes or digitalizing the routing process. For these agencies, we focus on things like request queues or using the integrated version of Workfront's digital proofing tool.
We have found that we can get greater user adoption and overall excitement for the tool if can deliver a solution that helps alleviate a problem they have been having for some time and make their lives just a little bit easier.
3. Then we are ready to move into phase three, which is ideally getting them set up for their ideal state: what they would love to have happen.
A little tip we have learned: whatever you have set up for a launch is going to change once it has deployed. As people start using the tool, they will start to realize the other amazing functionality in the tool and will hopefully start maturing both in the tool but also as an agency. That initial chaos of figuring out what is due today will eventually subside and they will start to broaden their focus. They will start thinking about what is due in the two weeks or maybe focus on the resource management side of things.
The initial setup, processes, and layouts will need to be tweaked and changed as the agency becomes more and more operationally efficient.
Customize the Tool for your Team
Marcus: One thing I noticed, too, is that so much of what you do is really customized. Is that pretty accurate?
Anthony: I don’t know how often you’ve worked with marketing teams, but every agency says, "We do things totally differently. We’re totally different." Trust me, I’ve looked at tons of process maps. They all pretty much do things the same way. But with the tool, we are able to set some things up for them that help them feel the tool is customized for their office. And yet, we can also standardize some core things in the tool across our different agencies to make sure that they are still following some best practices.
Everything is at the project level; that’s just the way it is.
You can only use tasks, issues, requests, documents, proofs, or whatever to help fit the needs of your agency. But by making sure everyone is using projects in Workfront, it helps with standardized reporting to executives and helps the agency when it is ready to expand into other functionality in the tool.
Marcus: I’m assuming that resistance to adoption is low.
Anthony: While there will always be some resistance to change, we have found that, if we do the research ahead of time, really focus on the immediate need of the agency we are working with, but also keep that ideal place where we want to land in mind, we can have a very successful implementation of the tool, and users will adopt the tool.
Kathy (my partner in crime) and myself are very lucky in that we get to focus on Workfront and its success in our agencies without having to worry about client deliverables and billable hours. Our clients are our agencies. We get to help out with that initial process discovery phase, we get to do all the initial trainings for a newly onboarded agency, we have weekly/bi-weekly status meetings with the superusers to help them grow and understand the tool more, and get to be there to help the agency as it takes those next steps to grow and mature, which is my favorite part.
There are a lot of tools out there that can help with work management. But over the last few years, we have found a lot of success with Workfront; not just with the tool as it is today, but also with the continued commitment from Workfront to improve the tool so that in the end… we can make people’s lives easier. Which is what is important at the end of the day.
To learn more about Foote, Cone & Belding's experience with Workfront, check out their case study.
About the Author
Marcus is a content strategist and producer who loves helping brands craft content that improves customers' lives, builds brand credibility, and demands to be shared. For the last 10 years, Marcus has worked in every type of content—from writing to video production to design—and is currently a senior content marketing manager at Workfront, where he oversees all corporate- and awareness-level level content. When he's not producing content, he's consuming it, in the form of books, movies, and podcasts.Follow on Twitter More Content by Marcus Varner