When I interview candidates for new positions, I sometimes have to stop and ask myself a simple question. Am I hiring you because of something you know or something you know how to do? Ideally, the answer is both.
Good project managers have perfected project planning and scheduling. Great project managers have translated their ideal processes into automated workflows. They’re orchestrating them in technologies to give their organizations better visibility into when tasks are due, what resources are needed, where issues are likely to arise, and who is responsible for approvals.
Second Time Around
A little more than a year ago, Teale McCleaf sat across the table from the vice president of IT at Roku, discussing how she could help the company that pioneered streaming to the TV. She was interviewing for an IT project manager role. Teale explained that she was adept at overseeing all facets of project lifecycle, including initiation and planning, change, risk and issue management, and guiding technical teams. (She is a Certified Scrum Master [CSM]).
The VP listened to her qualifications, asking questions about processes that might help improve the company’s projects, new applications, and systems integrations. She would become the first IT project manager working in the company’s IT Business Applications team.
Teale said, “I expressed to him then, as well as my manager, that I had worked with this tool in the past, at my previous position. I said it was really very helpful as they were looking to build transparency across the organization and show where there were resource constraints.”
“I explained that there would be no need to pull data from an Excel spreadsheet or project into PowerPoint to show the current state of anything. I could build a dashboard or a report right in the solution, and executive stakeholders could go directly to the application to get a current, real-time picture of what projects look like,” she says.
Teale was talking about Workfront. Her knowledge of this particular modern work management solution had come from a previous role as senior technical project manager and CSM at Rodan and Fields, a leading skincare products company. There, she worked with a variety of cross-functional marketing and creative professionals on meeting business needs. She used the solution to help team members “do more work, more efficiently, with the insights and transparency the organization needed.”
Shortly after accepting the new position, Teale deployed Workfront at Roku. Her selection was based not only on knowledge of the solution’s capabilities, but her confidence in the team behind the solution.
“I had the basics,” Teale explains. “What I really wanted was the more advanced, best practices.” She got plenty of help from Workfront’s solutions consultants, who shared how capabilities were being built out in other successful enterprises.
She says, “The help they provided was absolutely amazing. The online knowledgebase is kept up to date; they continually add new features on a roadmap that’s shared; and the webinars are phenomenal. We were stood up in a month.”
Roku has since then continued to take advantage of the easily accessible end-user training to advance adoption of the software. Teale also stays close to the work management company’s development, getting involved in integration and roadmap discussions with product managers as well as participating in the community when she has time.
What she appreciates most—and why twice is nice with Workfront—is the flexibility of the operational system of record: “The solution is easy to customize to the needs of the organization where you work.”
Same Challenges, Different Company
Like Teale, other project managers are bringing Workfront with them when they change jobs because it can quickly be adapted to solve business challenges.
The senior director of project management at Covario, before its acquisition by iProspect, had researched a variety of tools to solve similar project visibility challenges at another company. At that time, the solution that proved best to handle that company’s problems was AtTask, rebranded later as Workfront. Based on his previous experience, he realized that the same solution would be ideal to provide enhanced work management visibility, timesheets, and tracking at the search and content performance marketing agency.
As team members worked on their projects, the system gathered their project data in one database without intruding on their work. This collection of data in one place in turn made task- and high-level reporting possible. As a result, agency management could accurately track team effectiveness and efficiency, while also providing more visibility and ROI to the firm’s clients.
A similar scenario played out at Fender. With the goal of improving creative delivery, marketing operations recommended that Fender implement a comprehensive work management solution that would streamline and standardize project management, online prooﬁng, and asset management.
“My last company had deployed Workfront, and as an end user, I thought it was the simplest to use and it would make sense for what we were trying to do at Fender,” said Jenna Plummer, Asset and Project Manager, when asked about why Fender deployed the solution.
So the next time you’re interviewing a project manager, stop and consider what your company really needs. Is it knowledge? Is it experience? Is it a specific work management solution that the project manager knows deeply? Chances are, it may be all three.
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