3 Ways Collaborative Work Management Fuels Enterprise Agility

The Age of the Customer. The post-digital world. The real-time economy. These are all phrases used frequently today to describe the current state of businesses. Organizations are on “journeys” to reach their digital transformation point. Can they compete in the post-digital global economy?

It all starts to sound like buzzwords with no meat behind it. It’s easy to talk the talk but what are organizations really trying to do? In one word: compete.

Competition and agility

From the very beginning of business, back in the bartering days, success has always had an element of competition. Back then, it might have been who was willing to trade the most beads for meat or the nicest carving for a water container. The currency has changed – from beads to cash. And the goods have changed – from survival essentials to information or software. But the essential elements remain the same: 

  • Whoever is fastest to market wins market share.
  • Whoever has the best product wins market share.
  • Whoever has the best service wins market share.

And if you can combine speed, service, and outstanding product — you’re probably beating your competition handily. But if there’s one truth, it’s that the only constant is change. And the world is changing rapidly, almost daily. It wasn’t so long ago that self-driving cars, video calls, flat screens, and virtual reality were ideas of the future. Google was formed in 1998. Think about that. In 1998, 41% of American adults went online. Today, 96% of Americans own a mobile device, and most people are online constantly throughout the day.

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Organizations must embrace change to remain relevant and competitive. We're solidly in the age of enterprise agility. It sounds like another buzzword but there’s more to it. Enterprise agility is defined as “a distinct quality that allows institutions and corporations to respond rapidly to change.” Every organization must have some level of agility today to become and remain successful. Otherwise, you risk becoming the Ask Jeeves or Palm Pilot of your industry.

Pop quiz

Think about your organization. Review your elevator speech in your head. Think about your most recent successes. And, even if it makes you cringe, think about some less successful times. Now, do a quick SWOT analysis. 

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Go on, grab some paper, copy the chart, take a few minutes to think, and write down your ideas. Pat yourself on the back for your strengths — that’s what makes you successful! Now look at your weaknesses — that’s what makes it difficult for you to compete. What did you come up with?

  • Lack of resources?
  • Visibility issues?
  • Complicated processes?
  • Systems that are Frankensteined together?
  • Inconsistent communication? 

Rest assured, you’re not alone. Whether you discuss it in a monthly mentoring group or hear whispers from friends at other companies, every organization struggles (even Google). Every organization has its differentiators but there are also many similarities across industries, organization sizes, and phases (start-up, mature company, etc.). And that means others have found ways to drive success despite the challenges. 

Top 3 roadblocks to enterprise agility 

One of the biggest challenges with enterprise agility is that it involves much more than being quick to market with a solid product and white-glove service. Agility requires that organizations not only move fast but be able to turn on a dime to react to rapidly changing environments. Customers demand 24/7 personalized service. Competitive businesses can be next door or around the globe, with pricing and availability that may beat what you can offer. Next-day, free delivery is the expectation, not a differentiator. Technology is rapidly evolving, which can help and hurt. Data gathering is constantly increasing but the power of that data may not be fully harnessed if you can’t slice and dice it — you may even have trouble accessing it! 

The top three roadblocks enterprises face on the way to becoming more agile and able to compete are:

  1. Fragmented systems
  2. Visibility
  3. Flexibility to work the way you’re most productive and successful

These may not be the only roadblocks your organization is facing, but if these are addressed, you’ll see improvements in your organization’s performance. 

Have you tried collaborative work management?

Collaborative work management tools can remedy those struggles and a few more. They enable teams to communicate and collaborate in a single place, rather than wasting time switching between “productivity apps” like email and chat and hunting down information across applications. Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Margo Vistacion calls collaborative work management tools “collaboration points.” She explained, “So whether you're delivering digital content, a marketing program or even a repeatable business process like onboarding, these tools are flexible enough that you can plan out your activity and reach out to the people that need to share information or need to contribute to projects.”

86% of more than 1,400 corporate executives, educators, and employees surveyed by Salesforce cited lack of collaboration or ineffective communication as the reason for workplace failures. Collaboration and alignment don’t have to be overwhelming hurdles that cause you to fall. Here are some real-world examples of how collaborative work management has enabled companies to be agile, remain relevant, and compete.

Fragmented systems are a thing of the past

Most companies struggle with fragmented systems. Projects, parameters, and status updates live in email, documents, spreadsheets, databases, and reports. Systems don't communicate and it takes hours of work to compile information. There’s no one place to find everything you need to complete a project. It takes time and often inordinate amounts of frustration to move work forward. That doesn’t make for an agile organization.

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(Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash)

With collaborative work management, every communication, document, comment, and update are available in one place. It’s accessible by anyone at anytime. Workers are able to quickly check status, get up to speed, and determine what needs to be done next without scheduling a meeting or wasting time finding information.

Ogilvy-Australia, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, wanted to streamline its creative brief process. The creative brief is the way clients communicate their needs to the account team, who use it to communicate with the creative team developing assets. Briefs could be developed from meetings or in email exchanges, with little visibility to those not in the room. Ogilvy Australia wanted to automatically track every step of the process in a consistent way across all projects, including collaboration, changes, and agreements, as well as approvals by each stakeholder to facilitate hand-offs and new team member onboarding.

Ogilvy worked with Wrike to develop a custom request form to ensure all information was captured consistently. “Everything I see in Wrike is live and in its current status, which is a big plus for me,” said Ashley Risstrom, Senior Production Manager at Ogilvy Australia. “We can jump on the job, look at the last couple of comments, and pick up the ball up and run with it from there.”

A collaborative work management tool can be your single source of truth. It can bridge geographic gaps and provide quick and easy work visibility. For Hootsuite, that has enabled its team to focus on the customer experience, rather than tracking down information. Wrike provides a centralized location that allows Hootsuite to handle large volumes of tasks and to easily report on productivity. “Wrike really helps us break down barriers by acting as a central source of truth, so everybody in all the regions has access to everything that we do via Wrike,” said Symon More, Resource Manager at Hootsuite. “That provides a really easy way for everybody, no matter where they’re located, to see what everybody else is doing and helps align our company voice and purpose.”

Align your team — fast

Many organizations struggle with visibility on multiple fronts. Visibility is critical to keep your team aligned and ready to go but it’s not easy to know what’s going on with everyone all the time. The challenge is multiplied with remote teams working across time zones. For example:

  • How do you know when that project is ready for your review?
  • Can your managers quickly figure out who on their team is overloaded and who has bandwidth? 
  • How do you track budget against time spent? 
  • Would you be able to update a client on the fly about their project status? 
  • How do you share feedback with your team and clients? 
  • Do employees have insight into their upcoming projects and deadlines? 
  • How can you be sure there’s enough work to justify hiring a freelancer or new team member? 
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(Photo by Joshua Coleman on Unsplash)

There are tools that can provide that information in separate systems, but again, it takes time to gather data from different information silos and compile a complete picture. And it takes staff away from work that moves the needle, which means you may be less able to move with agility. Collaborative work management tools combine multiple resource management tools into one system, so it’s easy to check workloads and budget. CWM also saves time so your team can be more efficient.

De’Longhi is a global brand well-known for coffee making, cooking, and household maintenance products. When undertaking a website redesign project, which involved teams across Europe and a vendor in Nepal, streamlining communication became critical to success. The team also needed a solution to manage the growing number of requests in its queue, which were coming in via email, phone calls, and chats. Templates, request forms, and automation have made managing workflows across locations and projects much easier.  

“Wrike means I can actually manage and contain all of the noise as well as isolate time each day to just doing tasks that are really important and urgent,” said Ricard Martín Sol, Group Digital Systems Manager at De’Longhi. “Our central team is small, and we’ve gained a lot of time, which means we’re able to take on more work.”

Esurance’s marketing team was dealing with a deluge of requests, visibility challenges, and struggling with managing reviews, comments, and approvals on assets. Email was no longer an effective project management tool and they needed a flexible, intuitive solution that would answer those challenges and improve internal collaboration and communication.

“Prior to Wrike, one especially demanding project was handled 100% via email,” said Sabrina Wong, Associate Content Project Manager at Esurance. “I would say we were getting maybe 400 emails a month per team member. Now that everyone is using Wrike, all of the feedback is tracked in the tool so it’s super easy to go back and answer our own questions. We don't have to go through 3,000 emails.”

All that efficiency at the team level means you and your management team are more efficient and effective too. And that definitely results in greater organizational alignment.

Work your way — whether it’s the same as your team or not

We have to work with what we’ve been given, whether that’s talent or tech tools. Not all tools are created equal, though, and not all tools are easy to use. There are devotees of design-driven, user-friendly technology (you know who I'm talking about), and people who prefer the traditional tech they’ve used for years. A lot of employees struggle to make the tools they are given work the way they want to work, which means productivity may suffer.

Employees want to be able to view work in different formats, whether that’s a chart, list, table, or Kanban-style dashboard. Lots of tech tools offer only one view. Collaborative work management tools can be easily configured for different desired work styles, making it simple to put that new-found visibility and improved alignment to work. Do you prefer a dashboard? A Gantt chart showing project dependencies? A calendar with deadlines? Collaborative work management can make it happen!

Airbnb implemented collaborative work management when faced with the need to scale its new Experiences offering. Initially launched in 12 cities worldwide, the CEO wanted to quickly expand to 50 cities, and each required more assets than could reasonably be managed in the online spreadsheet the team had been using. They needed a work management hub that would integrate with their commonly used tools – including Google Drive, Salesforce, and their digital asset management system – and could scale to support a growing team and growing workload. 

“Before using Wrike, everyone was trying to work in one ecosystem, and that wasn’t working," said Hoon Kim, Creative Production Manager at Airbnb. "Everyone went into their own world and didn’t talk to each other. And that caused a lot of chaos and communication errors. One of the biggest advantages of Wrike is that there are so many different ways to look at projects and tasks. The ability to be nimble in terms of how we look at data really allows us to be more iterative. So, when we change a process it’s not a huge overhaul, it’s a small tweak.”

Nanometrics has really benefited from being able to view work in multiple formats. The company develops seismic networks to monitor and measure seismic events and provide accurate information to key personnel. As market needs changed, the team shifted its R&D efforts and grew, which made it clear a new tool was needed to manage workload and priorities. 

“The Workload view has been kind of a go-to for me,” said Ted Somerville, R&D Program Manager at Nanometrics. “It’s nice, it’s intuitive, and I’m able to sit down with the product managers and sales personnel and they can quickly see what projects are taking up a lot of the workload and suggest ideas for how to move things around.”

Not every organization can reduce meeting time by 30 hours a week like Nanometrics did, but collaborative work management tools enable flexible work views and are scalable to support growth.  

CWM powers enterprise agility

Collaborative work management tools are a powerful enabler of enterprise agility, as these examples have demonstrated. And when your enterprise is agile, you’re better able to both compete and clobber the competition. Wrike is a leading CWM tool, with more than 18,000 customers worldwide. Wrike powers leading brands, including Stitch Fix, Airbnb, OSF Healthcare, Esurance, Google, Hootsuite, Tiffany & Co., L’Oreal, and more. Wrike goes beyond productivity to help teams effectively shift priorities, communicate changes, and achieve organizational alignment quickly and effectively. Sign up for a free 14-day trial to see how Wrike can enable your organization’s agility.   

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