Nonprofit HOPE International Adopts Wrike To Streamline Decision Making
HOPE International — is a nonprofit organization that empowers men and women in underserved communities around the world.
The executive team was initiating a multi-year strategic plan, and wanted to consolidate systems into one single source of truth that all employees could use, and one set of processes for initiating, approving, and monitoring all projects.
HOPE International's microenterprise model aims to break the cycle of poverty by serving entrepreneurs with microfinance institutions (MFIs) and savings and credit associations (SCAs) in communities within Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
Since 2006, HOPE International has grown from 20 people in its headquarters in Lancaster, PA to over 100 people located across the United States, coordinating with additional staff around the world. As HOPE International grew in size and number of locations, departments began using a plethora of project management systems including Asana and Trello as well as spreadsheets and email to manage projects. The inconsistency in processes and systems made it difficult to manage cross-departmental or global projects.
"Communication about the status of projects was inconsistent and inefficient," says Ben Beachy, Marketing Project Manager. "People were trying to manage the whole project across multiple platforms including Sharepoint, Asana, Trello, and more. Finding more details on a project was easier said than done!"
The growing remote and global workforce made strategic alignment and collaboration a challenge. HOPE International's biggest pain points were inefficiency and miscommunication — including misunderstandings around timing and priority of projects. "Now that we're a team of over 100 people with 40 working remotely, working together isn't simple. It's no longer as easy as leaning over to the person next to you to ask a question. We need to figure out effective ways to communicate with people so we maintain the quality of our projects." says Beachy.
Wrike helped increase cross-departmental collaboration, and improved reporting and workload management.
The executive team was initiating a multi-year strategic plan, and wanted to consolidate systems into one single source of truth that all employees could use, and one set of processes for initiating, approving, and monitoring all projects. Beachy coordinated the selection and implementation of Wrike.
Wrike offered several unique advantages over other systems researched, including real-time review and approvals, Timeline and Gantt Chart views, customized reporting, and comprehensive collaboration that eliminates the necessity to communicate through email. "Our Marketing department had previously been using Trello, which is lacking in reporting and project analytics. It was difficult for management to get a bird's-eye view of what was happening," says Beachy.
With the move to Wrike, shared dashboards provide instant cross-departmental project and resource visibility. Managers can now open Wrike and plan projects based on strategic priority and team availability.
"If someone has a question, they know to start by looking in the description of the project or task before they go asking around to find their answers. Having that mutual understanding about the work that we're doing is a very helpful by-product of it all — especially on those cross-departmental projects."
Improved visibility into cross-departmental projects
Shared Dashboards have made monitoring progress and workload straight forward, and meetings more productive at HOPE International.
"Since we maintain the workflow for each task, these types of shared dashboards have been really helpful. Previously, getting this real-time bird's eye view of workload or work views was not easy for cross-departmental work."
Organizing items for review and approval became simple for teams and managers using Dashboards. Having everything in one place, managers can easily find and share real-time project status during a meeting.
"This saves a lot of time rather than having to sort through email to find these actionable items that need an approval."
Templates are used to optimize recurring projects (e.g. annual events), and ease the transition of projects to new employees.
"We plan an annual leadership summit. In the past, this has been done almost entirely in Excel across multiple spreadsheets," says Beachy.
"As staff transition between roles, it was difficult to understand and know what actually needs to happen. This year, we spent the time moving all of the data into a single project in Wrike, with all the associated tasks. When it comes to duplicating projects or repeating processes in the future, it's going to be much quicker."
Real-time, interactive reports were new for most managers at HOPE International, since previous systems did not offer that type of functionality.
Managers use Reports to focus on filtered projects, grouped and sorted in particular ways for prioritization, workload balancing, and strategic decision-making. "We use Reports in many recurring meetings to gain insight into the pulse of our team," says Beachy. "How many tasks have we completed this week? How many are overdue? Those types of questions."
"Staff in more of a traditional project manager role love the report functionality which they didn't have before with other systems. They reference various reports to look at active projects and tasks assigned to individuals for strategic decision-making based on workload. Reports are a super-helpful tool that many of us use on a regular basis," says Beachy.
Dynamic project views
Beachy implemented Wrike with a particular project and folder hierarchy to make team, department, or enterprise-wide roll-up views easy.
The timeline aligns departments, providing a shared context around why certain items are needed by a particular date. "There is a lot of flexibility [...] with how the Gantt chart is laid out in Wrike to expand tasks, collapse them, or to filter on just things assigned to a particular person," says Beachy. "Within Wrike it is super easy to look at a timeline view in order to get a sense of where a project is going long-term and to gain a higher-level perspective beyond just your little niche of a project or department," says Beachy.
"With some of the project management tools we were using, people were only able to see a small piece of the pie. It was difficult to understand the importance of due dates. Now we can see more clearly priorities and workflows."
Deployment and launch assistance
During the deployment planning phase, Wrike's Account Manager worked with Ben to identify pilot teams across departments as early adopters of Wrike.
"Wrike's approach of identifying champions first within departments across the organization was very helpful in moving forward with this new platform in a healthy way."