Introducing Inside Wrike, a new blog series that introduces you to some of the industry’s thought leaders and foremost experts on topics ranging from collaborative work and project management to new Wrike use cases. Each post is dedicated to bringing you the latest insights and deep dives into the Wrike platform designed to get you more value from Wrike.

For the premier post in the series, Sr. Content Marketing Manager Brandon Weaver sat down with John Notman, Wrike’s Head of Competitive Intelligence and former professional photographer. During the discussion, Weaver quizzes Notman on Wrike’s cross-tagging superpowers and where he sees the future of the collaboration software landscape. Also, having recently relocated from Silicon Valley to Denver, Notman shares his experiences about moving during the pandemic along with his recommendation for the best international travel destination, and camera of choice.

BW: The collaborative work management (CWM) competitive landscape is as fierce as ever as more organizations prepare for the reality that the hybrid workforce is their future. And there’s been some big moves in the industry that demonstrate the rise in necessity of collaboration software solutions among the global workforce. What do you make of some of the latest shifts in the CWM landscape?

JN: Yeah it’s been interesting to watch as Workfront got acquired by Adobe in December 2020 and filed for IPO in May! Both events are huge accomplishments considering Workfront is known for being the least collaborative CWM with a difficult UI, whereas struggles with everyday basics like glitchy workload charts and subpar visual asset proofing. Imperfections like these offer a glimpse into how hard it is to codify anything related to our work lives. Should technologists over-engineer a technology and become a cumbersome Workfront? Or should technologists over-index on user delight at the cost of basic features like

BW: What has Wrike been up to in the meantime?

JN: On the Wrike side, we continue to innovate and lead the collaboration software market by being the most intuitive, versatile, and robust solution. We held our annual Collaborate conference in October 2020, completely virtual, where we announced product features like Work Intelligence with project risk prediction, our AI and machine-learning powered Automation Engine, and introduced the New Wrike Experience to enhance users’ experience with the Wrike app. To kick off 2021, we were acquired by Citrix to advance the future of work and the modern digital workspace. Not too shabby of a way to start off the new year. Currently, our teams are busy working to announce a slew of new functionality that we plan to announce at Collaborate 2021 in October.

BW: What’s it like relocating to a new state during a global pandemic?

JN: We moved from San Jose, California, to Denver, Colorado in April 2021. Flying out to Denver in February for our inspection process was a different kind of wake up moment. The day we arrived it was 70℉ and reminded us of the Bay Area but with snow-capped peaks whereas the day we left we got hit with a blizzard! Throughout the process, all the people that helped us did an excellent job and we went into the process with an added dose of patience. We’re all human and after living through a pandemic, the fact that we could entertain a relocation to another state felt like a fortunate privilege.

BW: Stake your claim: Canon or Nikon, and why?

JN: During my time as a wedding photographer, I used Nikon and loved my rig! In the mid-2010s, Nikon had a substantial advantage in sensor technology, particularly in color rendition and low light capabilities and only in 2020 did Canon finally catch up. Canon makes some impressive glass but I’ve always felt like their camera housings were a bit cheap and plasticky, even down to details like shutter noise. There aren’t many differences between these camera makers anymore and, fun fact, Nikon and Canon helped each other considerably back in the 1930s. I don’t shoot weddings anymore but I still have my Nikon gear and also added a Leica Q2 to my bag, which is my current daily camera.

BW: Shifting gears into Wrike and its superpower: What makes Wrike a cut above the competition?

JN: The biggest challenge is differentiating Wrike from the sheer number of lookalike technologies that are available in the project management and CWM industries. The selection challenge is real. Every day, I hear examples of companies starting with a list of 20-30 vendors, then down-selecting to the final four, then top two, and then the final winner. One industry analyst recently claimed there are roughly 1,200 technologies in the market. Fortunately for Wrike, when buyers roll up their sleeves and really understand the important variables, Wrike stands out among the crowd quickly.

Several terms always surface from our customers when asked how they get the most out of Wrike. They say things like flexibility, visibility, configurability, ease of use, scale, power, etc. Each one is accurate but they need more context and connection back to the product before they really mean anything. One of my favorite features in Wrike is a “super feature” because it provides a tangible way for Wrike to be so strong for our customers: cross-tagging. 

Only two other vendors have cross-tagging-like abilities, and their functionality is inferior to what can be accomplished in cross-tagging in Wrike. This isn’t the only feature that helps Wrike stand out against others, but it’s the feature we’re focusing on today.

BW: What’s cross-tagging?

JN: Cross-tagging in Wrike is not to be confused with the @mention. The @mention calls attention to a teammate or group of stakeholders to work in progress, project updates, and requests for approval. Cross-tagging opens up the visibility of your work to more teams so that everyone can track progress.

Cross-tagging in Wrike allows team members to view work in context of their unique workflows, work organization, and reports. As an example, this means that a marketing team can keep a task in their "weekly sprint" folder at the same time the PMO keeps it in their "upcoming milestones" report. Exact same task, easily accessible from both locations, but tracked for different, equally valuable purposes.

It’s important to note that although a task, folder, or project can live in multiple places, that doesn’t mean it’s duplicated. It’s just visible in the context of these other work streams.

BW: How does cross-tagging in Wrike work?

JN: Cross-tagging isn’t limited to tasks. Subtasks, folders, milestones, phases, and even entire projects can be cross-categorized into multiple work streams and organizational structures to support enterprise scalability and tailored views of work. For this example, we’ll cross-tag a folder.

Best team collaboration software features: Cross tagging a folder in Wrike

To cross-tag this folder, navigate to the Space that has the folder and then follow these steps:

  1. In List view, use the folder icon in the top right to open the info panel.
  2. The folder's tags are listed under the title. Click + to add a tag and search for your desired folder in the dropdown list.
  3. To remove a tag, click the “x” next to the tag you’d like to remove.

In this example, if you cross-tagged this “Marketing campaign” folder to your Space titled “Acme Company” in the drop-down, this folder and all supporting content would be visible there as well — like the background image attached to the task.

In the example below, the “Build Slide Decks” task is cross-tagged into “Creative Backlog” and “Market Intel.” If you click either of those tags, you’d see the entire list of work that’s tagged with that label.

BW: Do other CWM software offer cross-tagging?

JN: No other CWM platform offers cross-tagging to the level of Wrike’s capabilities. A few collaboration software vendors have a paired-down version, but it’s extremely limited because it’s only available at the task level.

BW: What are some more examples of cross-tagging at work?

JN: Cross-tagging is beneficial to anyone working in Wrike, across all departments. For example, the marketing team wants to know what's in their weekly sprint, and the PMO team wants to track it as part of their upcoming milestones they need to hit to complete a project. Here, it’s the same task but each team can run it in their own reports for different purposes and objectives.

Common use cases for cross-tagging

Another common scenario is managing the content calendar using a CWM or project management software and giving access to a blog article to the product marketing team for their go-to-market plan. As the Head of Content, you’d need to create tasks for the content writer that included subtasks for editing, reviewing the piece, etc. Meanwhile, the product marketing team needs to monitor the same article’s progress as they execute their go-to-market plan. The issue here is the product marketing team has a different workflow and permissions than the content marketing team.

Without a solution that has the versatility of cross-tagging across any type of work or organized structure, you’d have to work within two tasks for the same content piece. Cross-tagging in Wrike opens up visibility to the necessary teams by breaking down those walls without duplicating work.

BW: Which Wrike users benefit most from cross-tagging?

JN: It doesn’t matter what your job role is or how large your team is. Anyone working in Wrike — whether they’re in-house or external stakeholders — can benefit from cross-tagging. Here are three common use cases.

1. Marketing team

Marketing teams benefit from cross-tagging in Wrike because they often have multiple campaigns and assets at various stages. By showing their work in different views, other team members or departments can access the approved assets. Plus, some campaign deliverables are dependent on finalized assets from another team, and they need a quick way to locate the complete materials, like motion graphics to include in a video. 

When it’s time for the VP of Marketing or CMO to see all completed work from every campaign, they need to find assets quickly. The same goes for individual team members who want to repeat good work they’ve done in the past. In both scenarios, cross-tagging simplifies the process by opening up visibility to all team members so they can continue working the way their teams work best.

2. Project managers in a PMO

Project managers act as air traffic control for cross-functional teams working on a campaign. Expanding on the product launch example from above, these individuals often work with product marketing managers, the product team, and design. 

  • The product marketing manager has a standard phased project plan of GTM activities categorized as a list of tasks, typically in Table view. For the PMM, one task they might have is “Build GTM Primer” that explains everything included in the release. 
  • The product team operates using the Agile methodology to plan and execute sprints to develop products. Their work looks completely different, and they often complete their work using a Kanban board. One of their tasks, as an example, could be “Final QA of new release.” 
  • Design teams are also agile working from a Kanban board as they execute their work in weekly sprints, but they kick off a lot of their work by taking in requests, like a one-pager for the new release.

The project manager doesn’t complete any tasks for the release, but they’re responsible for making sure all these different tasks are completed on time. They’ll be operating off of a cross-functional GTM template. In this plan, they have different functional areas of work that need to get done for the release, like marketing, sales enablement, product, etc. With access to the project plan, everyone can cross-tag their respective tasks and get visibility into the work in progress.

BW: How can Wrike users use cross-tagging with reporting efforts?

JN: For reporting, there’s an added benefit to cross-tagging. In this example, the project manager could cross-tag the entire GTM Project into the PMO's GTM Program, which could then be cross-tagged into the PMO's Portfolio of programs for the entire organization. That’s great for reporting because it allows the PMO to roll up all the tasks for the product release from all team members into one organized view. As a result, they can roll up this data to see if the project is on track, if the program the project sits in is on track, and if the portfolio that the program sits in is performing well.

Team collaboration software: Using Wrike's cross-tagging feature as a project manager

3. Cross-functional teams using daily standups

Daily standups are a common practice for many teams and often include participants from different departments. So when marketing announces a software pricing change with support from sales, product marketing, and customer success, everyone needs to be buttoned up and working from the same information. 

When cross-functional teams don’t operate the same way with status update meetings, a familiar process is necessary, like a standup to discuss any bottlenecks. To avoid missing any updates, team members add their agenda items to a shared, visible list. Whatever work that’s cross-tagged gets discussed in the standup. Therefore, if anybody misses the meeting, they can see the full context because all attendees included their updates without having to create a separate list.

BW: OK, last question. What’s your favorite international travel destination?

JN: Cape Town, South Africa, which I’ve visited nine times. My grandparents emigrated to South Africa from the Netherlands after World War II ended and my mom grew up between Johannesburg, Windhoek, and Cape Town; my siblings and I would visit our grandparents in our youth. Those transatlantic adventures taught us how beautiful this world can be and those experiences instilled a sense of discovery in us that carried into adulthood. Cape Town is an especially magical city and the people, their mix of cultural backgrounds, the vibrant food scene, and the exquisite natural beauty of a city tucked into the base of Table Mountain make it a place I’ll always wish to visit again. 

Try out cross-tagging in Wrike

It may not have a sleek name like Work Intelligence or Automation Engine, but don’t mistake the power of cross-tagging. Best of all is that it’s available for all Wrike users. Start a Wrike free trial today and increase your team’s work visibility.