Widen Workflow: an internal case study

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Workflow Online Proofing & Work Management

Widen’s latest DAM-centric application, Workflow, is now available for subscription to anyone who uses the Collective. This application is a robust online proofing and work management application that can significantly raise the efficiency of creative project management.

Before starting up with Workflow, it’s beneficial for organizations to assess their current processes. New Workflow customers will benefit from working with Leah Ujda, our on-site Workflow consultant. Leah works with organizations to, “develop a deep understanding of how you currently do your creative work — and how you would like to do this work in an ideal future. By identifying and understanding your current processes, we can ensure the technology you’re bringing into the organization will provide a valuable, efficient, and engaging experience.”

We believe in Workflow, and the understanding Leah brings to the table, so much that we decided to have her help the Widen team!

The following is an internal case study that gives an overview of how Leah helped us transform our creative project management with Workflow. Here’s a little bit more about Leah …

Widen Workflow Consultant Leah

Widen professional services

Leah is just one member of Widen’s Professional Services team. In addition to Workflow consulting, our professional services teams handle:

  • Full-service implementation and configuration
  • Full-service data migration
  • System integration project consultation
  • Dedicated DAM administrative services
  • Onsite Workflow and work process consulting

We applied our Workflow consulting services to our own internal marketing team. As you’ll see, we decided to focus on the annual Widen Summit — specifically the Comprehensive Schedule Booklet that’s created for the event — for our case study.

Before we get started, let’s cover some general information about the application.

Defining Our Workflow Management Software

What is Workflow?

In a nutshell, it’s an online proofing and work management solution that helps manage your creative review and approval processes.

  • It provides a central location for collaboration, comments, and feedback on work all the way from the creative brief, at the start of your project, through final approval of a deliverable.
  • Once a deliverable receives final approval, the system releases your content into Widen’s digital asset library for management and distribution.
  • For a deeper look at the application, check out our article, Widen Workflow: your online proofing and work management solution, or request a demo to see it in action.

Here’s a summary of the process we follow for Workflow strategic implementation.

Six Steps to Better Creative Project Management

  1. Project planning: this is where the Widen team talks with key stakeholders to learn about the team members who will be using Workflow, and the types of projects that they will be managing.
  2. Assess and evaluate: this is generally the longest part of the process. Depending on the size and complexity of your organization this could take anywhere from a half day to a full week.
  3. Kickoff: this happens a week or so after our on-site visit is done. The Kickoff meeting is when Leah will share learnings from the assess and evaluate phase as well as recommendations with you and the team.
  4. Role-based training: this is when we move from strategic conversations to tactical ones. By the end of Kickoff everyone should be aligned on WHERE and WHY Workflow fits with your work, and role based training sessions will go over the HOW.
  5. Your Workflow: here, your team will start putting the application to use in the real world. You’ll be armed with both your strategic vision of how it’s going to work, and your hands-on training using the application.
  6. Long-term support: this is where the baton is passed from Leah, your Workflow consultant, back to your Customer Experience Manager for ongoing management and support.

We’ll spend most of our time in this article on steps 2 and 3, which leads us to …

Preparing to Use Work Management Software

As we worked on getting up and running with both a new team in Professional Services, and a new product in Workflow, we realized this was a great moment to look internally and see how we might improve our own marketing team’s processes. So we asked the question:

How does Widen’s marketing team handle creation of material for the annual Summit — specifically the Comprehensive Schedule Booklet?”

This question was a good starting point for understanding the team’s creative content production process. We had a specific example to point to in our conversations, and it also gave us many opportunities to jump off and think about similar projects and the team’s larger work processes.

We asked marketing team members associated with the Widen Summit, and the booklet, to be part of the internal case study, and they agreed.

Leah then held one-on-one interview sessions with each of team member in order to: (1) be able to visualize the status quo, (2) gain alignment from the team before diving into specific recommendations for the future using the application.

Each interview session covered:

  • Introductory information about each person’s work and responsibilities
  • Individual role in creative content production process
  • Each point of view on the overall content creation process
  • Ideas and opportunities for the future

Workflow Consulting Helps Improve Your Process

Leah talked to the marketing team shortly after they completed work on the 2016 Summit booklet. They knew there were some difficulties in the process, and were eager to explore ways they could make improvements.

They started by talking about the big picture — the world the booklet lives in. The team described the goals and outcomes of the event for Leah and helped her understand the importance and high priority of this event.

Although it is only one of many things created for the Summit, everyone agreed that along with the Summit website and mobile app the booklet was one of the most important items.

They talked further about the website, app and booklet so Leah could understand how these pieces were connected, as well as how they were similar — and different — in the minds of the team.

Ultimately, the booklet had many parts that needed to be considered — both on their own merit, as well as alongside the other marketing materials associated with the event. Yes, it was its own piece of content, but it needed to play nicely with the overall Summit experience.

The reason Leah spent so much time gathering information about the details of the booklet’s component parts (as well as the related materials) was to be prepared for decisions that would need to be made in the Workflow application, like:

  • What kinds of things might become templated projects in the future?
  • How should we organize projects and the deliverables within them?

The-Online-Proofing-and-Work-Management-Process.png

Armed with a good understanding of where the booklet fit into the overall picture of the marketing team’s work, as well as their motivation for doing this work in the first place, they started to dig in and break down the creative process.

As mentioned, this was the first year they created a booklet for the conference. And like the first time through just about any process, there were a few bumps in the road, like:

Assess Work Management & Creative Project Management

Sticking points

Leah synthesized everything she learned about the team’s challenges into the following three pain points:

Creative Workflow & Project Management Challenges

  • Order: what should have been a set of sequential tasks ended up being a bunch of concurrent tasks.
  • Rework: as a result of things happening out of the ideal order, a lot of work was done more than once.

Overkill: since all of the reviewers had access to every version of the booklet, there ended up being too many cooks in the kitchen at times.

What went right?

It’s important to point out that even though the team was very open and honest about their challenges, they had a lot of really positive experiences, as well.

Creative Project Management Accomplishments

Looking forward

Leah then had each of the marketing team members to think back on the process they completed for the last booklet. Now, she asked them each to, “consider what you want to stop, start, and continue in the future.” The team’s goals were pretty well aligned on all three topics, which was great!

The customer point of view

Let’s look at what the Workflow consulting experience was like from the customer’s point of view. In this case, the customer was Melanie Olsen, Widen’s community and events manager. Here’s what she had to say …

  1. “When bringing Leah into the mix, to be completely honest - I was surprised by how vulnerable and nervous I felt having someone come into to examine our process. We had already gone through it, since it was the first time we created the booklet, and I already knew of several things we learned this year to try not to do next time. I already knew the process to completion didn’t go as well as we wanted it to … but had also felt proud of how we pulled it off in the end.”
  2. “Once we started the interviews with Leah, it ended up being a really impactful exercise, and I learned how powerful it can be to have someone observe behaviors and dynamics outside of our core team.”
  3. “Leah helped us gain visibility into it all, and helped us form a solid Workflow process for us to follow next time.”

Improving Online Proofing & Work Management

Next, let’s take a look at a process visualization that incorporates lessons learned from the experiences the team described to Leah. As you’ll see, the visualization embraces the opportunities they saw to improve their way of working as they move forward.

One of the first things Leah does to start making sense of what she learned is review the to-do lists (inventory) that were created in each interview.  Here’s what that looks like from a high level:

Getting Organized with Online Proofing Software

After analyzing everything the team shared with her, Leah creates a 6-step process, overviewed in the following graphic. Each step in this process has tasks and people/ groups responsible for them, as well as deadlines.

The Stages of Workflow Management Consulting

Major learnings from working with a consultant

  1. “I was surprised by how impactful and helpful it was to get a 3rd party point of view.”
  2. “It was a non-biased point of view and it helped me to realize, yet again … that in general … we don’t know what we don’t know. Having the added input and neutrality from Leah made me step out of my own head and process this. It’s also given me some space to learn about and then own my process better. To learn from Leah how I interpret, how I can help make our full process better made me feel really excited.”
  3. “It helped me get closer to my team because we all learned about how we respond to things and we got a better understanding of the personalities on the events team.”
  4. “Ultimately it helped us to allocate the work in a better way to keep things moving and in a pleasant and open way.”
  5. “It helped us to collaborate better and more positively (and we’re already pretty positive)!”
  6. “It further empowered our team. We can’t wait to make the Summit booklet using this process for 2017!”

Using Work Management & Online Proofing Software

Once the team was aligned around a strategic visualization of their desired process, they started thinking about tactical execution. How could use Workflow to bring this vision to reality?

Let’s briefly break down how Workflow can address each of the three major pain point areas we discussed earlier —Order, Rework, Overkill.

Order

Use Stages to control sequence.

  • Easily create a multi-stage project with one deliverable right in Workflow
  • Manage the order in which stakeholders have access to the deliverable during the content creation process

Here is a visualization of how the pieces of your project fit together within the Workflow application. Each project has one or more deliverables. New versions of deliverables are created throughout the stages of work. Each stage of work has a group of assigned reviewers and associated deadlines. A new stage will not begin until the previous stage is complete, and when the final stage of work is done you will have an approved deliverable that you can upload directly into the Widen Collective for distribution and use.

Stages of Creative Project Management Software

 

Rework

Track versions in the proofing tool.

  • View the entire history of comments and suggestions within the proofing tool
  • Have a conversation with your colleagues about suggested changes

The following slide represents the way your deliverable will grow and change as multiple versions are created. Version 1 was the starting point that was first uploaded in this project. Feedback specific to the top of the document was incorporated in version 2, and an additional image and expanded text were added based on feedback in version 3. And again, within the Workflow application you can go back in time to view previous versions and the associated comments.

Workflow Helps with Management of Versions

Overkill

Identify optional and required reviewers.

  • In each stage of the project, identify which reviewers are required and which are optional
  • Give notes and direction to each reviewer to help focus their attention, for example:
    • Sam, please review for brand
    • Rebecca, please edit copy

The slide below illustrates that you have all kinds of options on who you assign as a reviewer in each stage of the creative project management process. Each stage needs at least one required reviewer, and can have as many additional reviewers as you see fit. Individuals can be assigned to one or more stages, and each reviewer will only be able to view the deliverable during the time that it is in a stage they’re associated with.

Creative Project Management Software Stages

In conclusion

This brings us to the end of the story of how we’ve used both a Professional Services consulting engagement, and our new product Workflow, right here at Widen. Workflow consulting may be a good resource for your organization if you’re looking to better understand the current state of your creative content production processes, design a vision of your ideal future process, and develop a plan on how to actually get there with our new application.

More Info

To learn more, you can read our article, Widen Workflow: your online proofing and work management solution.

You can also request a demo to see the application in action!

Topics: Workflow

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