CIO strategies

4 Crucial Strategies for CIOs During a Digital Transformation

We at Workfront engage with chief information officers all the time, and we see firsthand the exciting but challenging role CIOs occupy today as they work to change the world through strategic deployment of technology. As CIO Review has put it: “Information and the interactions around it have become key assets of most enterprises, and making correct decisions in shrinking cycle times is the defining operating characteristic of winning companies.”

That statement perfectly encapsulates the challenges — and opportunities — we see as well. How do enterprises today make correct decisions in an environment of constant and increasing change, dispersed teams, intergenerational friction, and ongoing digital transformation?

A few hints can be found in a recent profile in CIO Review, featuring Workfront’s Steve Zobell (chief product and technology officer) and Erica Antony (vice president of product management). Good decision-making, they argue in the piece, is impossible without alignment, engagement, context, and visibility. This goes for CIOs, project managers, developers, administrative staff, and everyone in between. 

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1. Coordinate Strategic Alignment Top to Bottom

Zobell claims that old hierarchical models, in which employees are assigned tasks from the top down, are no longer working.

“Every leader wants to know resources and work efforts are aligned with strategy,” the article reads. “Employees want to know why they are doing what they are doing, and to provide better outcomes. Once employees understand how their execution is aligned to strategic objectives, they are better able to accomplish goals against those objectives.”

But without a system that facilitates and enables alignment in both directions, both executives and workers will feel unsure and disconnected. That’s where modern work management tools come in. Workfront’s scorecard feature, for example, is just one of many functions within the solution that helps you measure how well a project aligns with the organization’s mission, values, and strategic goals.

Unless you have an operational system of record to facilitate your efforts, “developing an organized and coordinated work system aligned with the key business objectives of an organization becomes a tedious task for any business,” says Antony.

Just ask C_Space, a consumer collaboration agency that struggled with disconnected and decentralized systems, tons of manual work, and poor internal alignment, leading to improper resource management and bottlenecks. After onboarding a modern work management solution, team members regained 30% of their time for innovation and the on-time product delivery rate increased from 50% to 80%, generating millions in new revenue.

2. Inspire Full Employee Engagement

“Our focus is to help employees do their best work and help make them as productive as possible,” ZoBell says. But what does it look like when employees are doing their “best work”? How could that kind of work be defined across different industries, organizations, and roles?

Workfront CEO Alex Shootman’s formula for engaging employees is simple, and it applies to every possible position within the enterprise: “Make sure every worker understands his or her role, believes it matters, and feels pride in the work.”

Employees want to believe that what they’re working on is important and delivers real value. They don’t want to robotically produce work that feels disconnected from a larger purpose. And widespread disengagement comes with real costs.

Gallup has found that 70% of U.S. employees aren’t working to their full potential — 52% are not fully engaged and another 18% are actively disengaged — costing upwards of $450 billion in lost productivity each year.

GL Education is one organization that has drastically improved engagement and productivity — by 80% — after streamlining work processes with an operational system of record. Now, “project managers are able to better plan for projects and engage the right people quickly to fix issues,” says group program manager Natalie Egan. She adds, “Project managers are so much more productive.” This careful attention to people and technology is making a major difference when it comes to engagement.

3. Consider the Context

One issue creative teams in particular often face is the amount of juggling they have to do between multiple tools and applications that do not work together. “It is frustrating for people to choose between staying creative and productive, or responding to rapid requests for changes,” Antony says. Thanks to integrations between Workfront and Adobe products, marketing and creative teams can manage all of their work in one place — including assignments, creative briefs, schedules, budgets, reviews and approvals, and even the digital assets themselves — retaining complete visibility and context as projects move forward.

For instance, Foote, Cone & Belding saved an estimated 1,000 hours of billable time across 13 business units and expanded project visibility to 100%. According to project manager Anthony Imgrund: “After we rolled out Workfront to our HackerAgency, which focuses on global direct marketing, team members who typically received work requests with little notice were so happy because for the first time, they had a heads up about work coming in, and that allowed them to start planning their days better.” And that’s just one example among many.

4. Build Bi-directional Visibility

There’s a bi-directional benefit to full operational visibility, and the CIO Review article describes it well: “The work management platform provides full transparency to help knowledge workers focus and apply their creative energy where they are most valuable, while giving leaders visibility into work in progress.”

In other words, the workers driving the day-to-day tasks forward are empowered to maximize their individual potential, and stakeholders are never left in the dark. “The DNA of work is where content, tasks, and collaboration come together,” says Zobell. “They are the most foundational elements of all work. Our work management platform is designed with the DNA of work at its core, providing a single pane of glass to oversee all work.” And this pane of glass isn’t isolated in a single executive or project manager’s office. It’s available to everyone.

This was the single biggest benefit C_Space experienced from their transition to centralized work management. According to Marcia Gallicchio, director of CORE resource and project management: “Being able to see where we are at in real time allows us to make better business decisions for our company and ultimately our customers.” Integrate that ability across your enterprise and you'll be in a position to thrive in the digital transformation.

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