How to Successfully Scale Your Work Management Solution: An Equifax Success Story
Chances are that no matter where you work, you’ve experienced the hurdles that come with collaborating across various teams and departments. Each department uses different processes, protocols, and software systems to accomplish their work—and these disparate solutions and approaches don’t always play nicely together. Cross-departmental projects are often fraught with duplicated effort (as the same details are tracked in multiple systems), rework and/or stalled progress (because project status isn’t immediately clear to both groups), laborious meetings, and other challenges.
Then one team tries something new, and they seem to be accomplishing more work, more quickly, in a more streamlined and organized fashion, with less hassle and stress than they dealt with before. The other teams look on with curiosity (and maybe a little envy) and decide they want in on the secret. So someone from that original team decides to step up and champion the widespread adoption of the solution that had worked so well for them, investing hours of time, effort, and strategic planning to bring other teams on board.
Why go to the trouble? Partially out of a commitment to the organization’s overarching mission, partially out of realizing that one’s own team benefits greatly when they can collaborate successfully with other teams, and partially out of good old-fashioned goodwill. It also doesn’t hurt to get the career-boosting prospects of spearheading a cross-departmental project that’s being closely watched by senior leadership.
As it turns out, this isn’t just a hypothetical story. In this particular case, the company was Equifax, Inc., a global corporation numbering more than 10,000 employees in 24 countries. The champion was Jaclyn Reiter, project manager over strategic initiatives. And the solution was Workfront. Here are some of Reiter’s top takeaways from the extensive reconfiguration process she facilitated, which she shared in a recent webinar. Her practical insights will be helpful for any organization that’s looking to increase internal adoption of a successful work management solution or operational system of record.
Creating a Buzz
Jaclyn: “In 2015, we rolled out Workfront to our workforce solutions operational teams as our work management system. Everything was organized, set up, and customized to fit our current case. It all fit. Our successful onboarding and associated results created a buzz in the organization. Other departments, business units and centers of excellence were expressing interest.”
Finding Opportunity to Scale
“Our use case for Workfront was very specific and included only this team of operational implementations. We never imagined the results of implementing Workfront would draw the attention it did from senior leadership and other departments. As the central system administrator and governance leader, I began receiving an influx of requests to onboard more teams with drastically different use cases. Yet, strategically, centralizing our data is essential. We needed to make our instance scalable…allow other entities entry and autonomy, but protect our use case, autonomy and governance.”
“How were we going to scale across the organization when we structured our instance to suit the needs of one business unit? How could we enable possibilities for enterprise growth without compromising our use case, autonomy and privacy? Furthermore, how could we offer the same benefits of autonomy and privacy to the rest of the enterprise?”
“We had to think bigger and open the doors to the rest of the entire enterprise. We asked for help. We reached out to Workfront, and we created this partnership. Internally, we had to take a look at and compare what our previous requirements were along with what these new-world requirements were—along with deep diving into our organizational structure. We sat down. We thought hard, strategically with management, to design a new structure, a new world for our Workfront instance, as well as a plan to convert it.”
Consulting the Experts
“And then we went out to Utah and we spent a full day utilizing our Workfront professional service experts. We sat in a room, and we pressure-tested everything that we put together. We tried to poke holes through everything. Eventually, we were looking to finally get approval for this plan to restructure everything from our portfolios and programs. We had to account for groups, teams, companies, all the way down to naming conventions. That’s essentially what we did. Our approach was an Equifax/Workfront partnership. And I remember sitting in that room, building out my project plan in Workfront as were talking through and having the conversation with the experts.”
“It’s true that a great solution sells itself, but we need people to get it off the ground. We had a three step-approach:
- Sell the message and get buy in.
- Establish a timeline and stick to it.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate.
“I didn’t want to lead and drive this endeavor, and at the end of the day have somebody say, ‘oh, I didn’t hear anything about it.’ It was very important that we had a front-to-back communication plan.”
“We were looking at restructuring, scaling, and integrating. In order to socialize the strategy, we had to bring in all of our Workfront stakeholders, high and low. And we invited everybody to an in-person session. We covered the short-term needs, and we discussed what was entailed with creating the new structure, and then further we reviewed the level of impact analysis involved—how they would be impacted—and the preparations that we would take to ensure their data wouldn’t be lost, and that there wouldn’t be any downtime. We introduced new methodology for governing specifically our custom data, because data is so important for our business case; it drives all of our reporting requirements. We talked about enforcing alignment and key dependencies. It was a very healthy discussion, and the audience could tell that this was very well thought out, that we had a strategy in place, and that we were looking towards the future.
“I specifically asked for buy-in during this meeting. I asked for anyone who had any major concerns to raise them so we could identify and address them. But I also expressed my desire to work through this as a team. We would walk this path together. We would reach success together, or we would fail together, but my expectation was that we would work as one team.”
“We thought outside the box. We utilized experts internally at Equifax but also within Workfront in tying together this partnership. And that’s just to get us to a point where, ‘Can we get approval?’ And we did!”
Creating the Project Plan
“So I had the support, and I had the resources, which shifted us into our next phase, which was the project plan and the timeline. Looking specifically at overcoming our unique challenges, we had approximately 14,000 projects that we needed to move out of these to-be-retired portfolios and programs and move them into a new home—new portfolios and new program structure.
“In order to make a massive switch like this, it could not be done manually. ... I worked with a consultant that helped me to build the file I would be utilizing to make the transfer. This allowed me to upload an Excel file that essentially transferred all of my 14,000 projects from point A to point B. There was no manual drag-and-drop, nothing of that nature. It was cut over after hours. We secured weekend testers, and we also had a roll-back plan in place for good measure.”
“You have a cut-over weekend, and now you have a new structure, and people could realize the value immediately. Essentially, we’ve created doors that can be opened at any point for different business units, Centers of Excellence, and departments throughout the organization—so that they can onboard with a unique use case that doesn’t need to fit within the model of Workforce Solutions. And we started to onboard additional departments once we had the ability to do so. The after-effects of this is it’s enabled us to support this further expansion.”
Setting Up for Future Growth
“What we build has to be sustainable. For us, where we started, it was too narrow. And now we have the ability to open up and enable Workfront to grow organically within our organization—and throughout our entire enterprise—and allow it to be sustainable. That’s one of the extreme values that we’re realizing, even months later.”
Reflecting: Secrets to Success Discovered Along the Way
“I found there are three equal sides to the triangle of success: leadership support, owner, and people/participants. The model we built is that each team that has implemented Workfront has one representative/group admin/champion. There are five system administrators total. We use a request queue to manage changes and requests and share the workload. Now that we are growing and functioning operationally, I'm seeing a new need to have a smaller team to act as a change advisory board.”
"This structure within my organization has been so successful that leadership is looking to use this model to support all other systems (aka Tableau, Spotfire, etc). I am hiring another full time dedicated Workfront Solutions Consultant because we're looking to add another 800 or so users to the system, but the goal with this ‘community of practice’ is to allow the teams to support themselves without relying on one single person.”
About Equifax Workforce Solutions
Equifax is a matrix organization with seven Centers of Excellence and five Business Units operating in 24 countries worldwide with over 10,000 employees. Jaclyn Reiter is responsible for Workforce Solutions, which provides services to HR, Payroll, and Tax departments at organizations of all sizes in all industries, including the public sector.