TGI Fridays Increases the Number and Quality of Cross-Departmental Strategic Projects

Meredith Selden

Director of Process Integration

Kimberly Otte

Menu Innovation Project Manager

TGI Fridays — TGI Friday's franchises and licenses more than 900 restaurants in 60 countries. A leader in casual dining with over 74,000 employees, it's brand promise is "In Here, It's Always Friday".

Their story

Within the U.S. group of TGI Friday's, there has been an increase in marketing and cross-functional strategic projects.

These projects are assigned to a large team from Marketing, Strategic Operations, Development, Finance, Sourcing, and IT, and range from a handful to hundreds of tasks. Because most deliverables are printed items distributed to restaurants, substantial lead time is critical to on-time, on-budget delivery. Projects, such as new menu item launches, are measured against specific sales percentage increases, and operational metrics such as goals of zero reprints post-launch.

Before Wrike was implemented, these projects were managed via Word and Excel templates, and email. "It's overwhelming trying to manage all of the task details in Excel," says Meredith Selden, Director of Process Integration. "At one time I was managing one file with 15 tabs, but I wasn't able to understand how projects overlap and understand the critical path of projects," says Otte. "Things were lost in email. We couldn't find the latest attachment, or it was out of date," says Kimberly Otte, Menu Innovation Project Manager.

Selden and her team compared Wrike to Smartsheet and JIRA and ultimately, the team selected Wrike. "I liked Wrike the best because I thought it was the most intuitive. I tested it with 10 other people on our project team," says Selden.

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It's been night and day. Being able to manage dependencies in the timeline view, identify the critical paths, and take a snapshot of the timeline and share that to get sponsors on the same page.

Meredith Selden

Director of Process Integration

Wrike takes things to another level. Keeping track of every detail and every task to ensure all elements are in place on launch day was a challenge; Wrike enables us to do it more accurately, thereby decreasing our costs.

Meredith Selden

Director of Process Integration

Their victory

Selden and Otte developed a phased roll-out plan, piloting Wrike department by department.

"I tried to include some of the most vocal or influential users in the testing process to get their buy-in earlier," says Selden. "I held training courses with every single department. I even developed a Powerpoint deck and took them through examples of how I wanted to use the software to help transition old processes to new processes. Afterwards, I followed up individually with some heavy users, daily or weekly." IT & Learning Development were among the first group trained. They adapted quicker because they already used a project management and file sharing systems in the past (like JIRA and Basecamp).

Optimizing New Product Launches and Delivering Results to the Field

Selden and Otte used Wrike to optimize complex processes with launching new menu items. They typically involve a cross-functional team of 30 people across departments, and impacting over 900 restaurants. Selden created project templates in Wrike to ensure every detail is captured, assigned, and scheduled to prevent errors. "The benefit is more around the quality of the implementation," says Otte. "Wrike takes things to another level. Keeping track of every detail and every task to ensure all elements are in place on launch day was a challenge; Wrike enables us to do it more accurately, thereby decreasing our costs," says Otte.

Thanks to added speed and lower administrative burden, the number of active strategic projects has also increased by approximately one-third without adding any staff after Wrike was implemented.

Our success has become the local field restaurants' success."We're here to make life easier for those in the restaurants. If we don't deliver all elements on the live date, they lose trust in us," says Otte. "Over the past 6 months, we've gotten better feedback from the field. Restaurants say that we think more about them. We respond more quickly, with better quality," said Selden. "They volunteer to participate in tests. We have more restaurants being more vocal about participating. If our largest pool of franchisees want to participate, then they can lead others to join."

Selden added, "We're now expanding the scope of Wrike from Marketing Projects to All USA Projects so that every department will leverage Wrike for project implementation. This will allow us a better view on resource projections, to identify and solve for constraints.”

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Increased Project Visibility Among Executives and Managers

Reports and Dashboards are used together to inform executives and cross-functional teams of project status. "We made a commitment to move it all into Wrike," says Selden. "For our VPs, we share performance metrics including a chart of total tasks completed and overdue. We use the Analytics view to create a custom chart across our top-level folders. This is a critical chart for performance, and customized to only include certain teams. We do this for brand initiatives, and include IT, Finance, and Digital teams, and look at overdue tasks by a particular date. This helps us look at the workload and measure overdue tasks."

Faster Onboarding of New Team Members

Selden uses Wrike to orient new team members to cross-functional projects quicker than ever before. "It's easier to onboard new team members into the organization. It has allowed us to organize our work and think through all the different work streams, and assign tasks out in a way that they can pick them up on the My Work tab and make them happen."

If we get it into Wrike, it gets visibility, it gets communicated.

Kimberly Otte

Menu Innovation Project Manager

Their superpowers

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Shared Team & Executive Dashboards

Selden leverages dashboards for team tracking of projects. "We share a Dashboard with the entire team to show the critical milestones on every project," says Selden. "We'll reference the Dashboards on the mobile app and I've also created custom dashboards for VPs to show them what is overdue. They use it for a quick reference in meetings."

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Project Templates

With the use of Wrike project templates, the management of large cross-functional projects has been significantly improved. "Had that project had been in Wrike, then everyone would have seen that it was there," says Otte. "People can see it and information is shared to everyone involved. There is some sort of peace, of making sure that the end goal is achieved, and all the different parts that have to happen, actually happen."

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Flexible Views for Individuals

Individuals manage their own work using their own preferred views. "I love the My Work tab, and being able to look at which things are overlapping - it is so incredibly helpful," says Otte. "The ability to have a Stream, where you can keep up with all of your updates and file sharing," says Otte. "I love that in Wrike, you can always find the latest and greatest file. You know when docs have changed - incredibly helpful," says Otte. "And, I love checking tasks complete," says Otte.

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