Technology

Marketing has dramatically evolved in the last 20 years. The rise of digital marketing and the exponential growth in marketing technology solutions are just a couple of things that have brought a new level of complexity—and power—into the hands of marketers. But, as the saying goes, “With more power comes more responsibility.”

Chief marketing officers and their teams are facing greater expectations to demonstrate results across their organization. Marketing investments are under continued scrutiny and organizations are being tasked to perform at higher levels with the same or fewer resources. The bottom line:  today, marketing organizations must demonstrate steadily increasing ROI while achieving higher levels of innovation, and team and client engagement.

So what?

 

Marketing organizations need to bring their A-Game. They must take steps to evolve their stack, processes, and strategy to keep ahead of the curve – and the competition. Wherever you are in your digital transformation, you should ask yourself:

  • Can you demonstrate how your marketing organization is aligned to the company’s strategy and driving real, measurable value for the enterprise?
  • Do you have the means to communicate full cost and ROI transparency to the CMO and business lines, and drive informed marketing decisions?

 

If you’re not confidently answering “yes” to these questions, here are the six steps you can take to build and bring your marketing A-Game:

 

1. Thoughtfully create your marketing stack

The number of marketing platforms has grown at an exponential rate, and it can be hard to know what the right strategy and tools are for your organization. Assess your current stack with these questions:

  • Can you qualify the value you get from each of your platforms and tools?
  • Are there gaps you can identify within your existing stack?
  • Could you possibly consolidate the number of tools you are using?

 

2. Build integrations

Like most companies, you likely have multiple systems of record. But it’s not effective to plan in one system, execute work in another, and host assets and deploy in others. Your holistic marketing story and accurate ROI reporting are critically important. Power your organization’s collaboration with integrations that seamlessly connect your stack to unlock and unify the data that enables these stories.

 

3. Organize your data & insights

Your stack is creating ever more data to manage. But the problem isn’t the data itself; it’s how to organize it in a way that leads to actionable insights. Define a best-fit data strategy for your stack. And with the right visualizations, your organization will be empowered with the ideas to make smarter marketing, business, and operational decisions.

 

4. Examine your existing processes – and do it often

Organizations and your marketing needs will continually evolve. Being comfortable may lead to a miss on an important technological advance that your competitors are employing.

  • Review your processes regularly to re-engineer and optimize them and to ensure they’re as efficient as possible.
  • Refine your organizational roles to maximize new capabilities.
  • Look into custom development options to create new automation opportunities within your organization.

 

5. Make change personal

Tools are only effective if you know how to use them and know why you’re using them. Equip your team with proven approaches and tools that affect lasting change. Discover methods that will influence behavior and allow your staff to understand the value of new capabilities. By encouraging your team to embrace change, you’ll drive operational excellence and create a model for the rest of the enterprise to follow.

 

6. Recruit an expert or find a reputable partner

Ultimately, bringing your marketing A-Game is complicated. It takes time, strategy, investment, and the right guidance to ensure you will have an ecosystem that positions your organization to win. In this process, don’t be afraid to recruit an expert for that industry or employ a technology partner to make strategic recommendations. Create a roadmap that aligns with your objectives, prioritize your specific initiatives and create the ideal marketing ecosystem for your organization. Your team will be able to focus on creativity and innovation, and you’ll watch your ROI (and credibility as a leader) soar.

 

Are you ready to bring your A-Game?

Through multi-city workshops, LeapPoint will provide senior marketing professionals a solution set that enables their organizations to align with corporate strategy and effectively and efficiently deliver value to the enterprise. We’ll showcase how to achieve these outcomes via a robust, intelligently integrated, set of best-of-breed cloud applications that holistically provide for this capability with effective governance.  All with the added benefit of actually making the end-user experience more efficient and effective.

Learn more about the marketing A-Game and register for an A-Game Workshop in a city near you at leappoint.com.

 

 

In the past, government operations relied solely on manpower. Everything was done manually, with no technology to build on or to store documents and more. Today, digital transformation has touched virtually every industry; however, the government is still a step behind.

To alleviate this lag, many agencies are starting to partner with SaaS (software as a service) companies. This is giving governments the unique opportunity to reduce their administrative costs while providing more services to their constituents.

What is SaaS?

SaaS is a method of software delivery allowing users to access data from any device that has a web browser and an internet connection. With this method in place, software vendors host and maintain the code, databases, and servers that make up an application.

This is a massive departure from the prior on-premise software delivery model that most government agencies used in the past (and that many still use today). With SaaS, companies don’t have to invest in hardware for hosting their software, which allows buyers to outsource IT responsibilities for maintenance purposes.

3 Ways SaaS is the Future of Government Technology

The federal government is not immune to the growth and evolution of technology. Three ways that show how and why SaaS is the future of government technology can be found here.

1. SaaS is Easy to Customize

There are many government websites and systems that suffer from inflexible designs. With modern SaaS applications, it’s possible to support simple application configuration. This means that end users can adjust the parameters that will impact the functionality of the system.

2. SaaS Products are Continually Optimized

A huge benefit of adopting SaaS in the government is the fact that these applications are updated more frequently than traditional software that is still used by most agencies and organizations. This ensures that new features and significant upgrades are available as quickly as possible.

Because the software is housed on a server, which is controlled by the vendor, it can be upgraded centrally. This is opposed to the traditional model, where the software being used would have to be upgraded on every single machine that uses it. What this means is that SaaS is easily maintained and all upgrades can be made instantaneously with the latest version at the source. This helps save those using this model both time and money.

3. SaaS Products Can be Easily Integrated with Existing Systems

While there are more than a few reasons that companies and organizations are transferring to web-based applications, the fact is that this transition is one that has been complicated for governments. This is mainly due to the use of legacy systems. These outdated systems hold quite a bit of data and information.

Integrating a new system means that all the information has to be migrated over from the former system, which can be a huge challenge.

When it comes to the migration process, there are two basic options that government agencies can opt for:

  • Using a cloud server built from scratch
  • Existing application migration “as is” to the cloud

With SaaS, the components are adaptable and flexible, which makes this migration fast and easy, minimizing the stress and hassle it may otherwise present.

While the federal government has been slow to adopt SaaS technology due to perceived challenges, the fact is that this process is not only worthwhile, it can also lead to huge cost and time savings benefits in the long run. It is something that government agencies should begin doing today to see all the benefits SaaS has to offer.

One of the most valuable assets of today’s companies have is information. As the digital era’s oil, data has become the world’s most valuable resource. However, without governing information appropriately, it can increase risk. It’s the reason why U.S. businesses spent an average of $8 million per data breach in 2018. Aligning your IT with your business strategy is essential for reaching your company’s business and financial goals and protecting its IT investments. That’s where IT governance comes in handy. IT governance is the formal foundation or core process to ensure your IT aligns with your business goals and strategy and a crucial component of corporate governance.

IT governance matters because it ensures your company is using its IT resources and assets effectively and efficiently to achieve the desired outcomes of your enterprise’s goals. It’s also crucial to implement IT governance to comply with laws and industry regulations, including privacy and data protection laws. But when you don’t update your IT governance in this age of digital transformation, you risk the protection of your enterprise’s and consumers’ data and privacy, facing lawsuits, and, ultimately, hurting your bottom line. That’s because sound IT governance prevents adverse situations, such as data breaches. Thus, it’s important to understand the principles for creating a successful foundation for IT governance.

Here are six key ways to achieve IT governance success:

1. Establish an IT Governance Mindset for the Entire Organization (Not Just CIOs)

Traditionally, IT governance has been seen as the responsibility of the CIO and executive leadership. However, IT governance success calls for a shift from CIO-dedicated ownership to ownership of a wider audience of organizational leadership. The board must determine the objectives that everyone in the organization needs to achieve. It allows for radical decision-making and is necessary for keeping pace with digital transformation.

2. Update Governance Views

A large part of modernizing IT governance requires a mind shift from enterprise leaders. That’s why it’s important that enterprise leaders update their views on IT governance. Traditionally, enterprise leaders view IT governance as a set of restrictions. But if you want to modernize your IT governance, your enterprise leaders need to think beyond restrictions. Instead, leaders need to understand that good IT governance is a digital enabler.

3. Focus on Outcomes (Not Fixed Processes)

A modern IT governance foundation considers more than fixed processes. Instead, good IT governance focuses on outcomes. That’s because outcomes provide proof. Leading digital enterprises exhibit an IT governance capability that focuses on outcomes. These outcomes require flexibility to change as often as necessary when specific situations arise. With a 47 percent hike in data breaches in the second half of 2018, ensuring the outcomes of the processes you implement is essential to protecting the business objective of securing user data and privacy. Thus, it’s critical to not only limit the focus to processes but to consider if these processes achieve the desired outcome.

4. Embrace Automation to Promote Adherence

Adhering to IT governance is a challenge for traditional IT governance compliance. It’s hindered innovation due to inefficient allocation of capital and puts enterprises at risk for falling out of compliance. However, modern IT governance leverages automation to promote governance adherence. Thus, it’s critical that your IT leadership and team takes advantage of the same technologies that are automating the workflows of businesses and apply them to IT processes. By embracing automation, you can encourage adherence to governance.

5. Customize IT Governance

Each company’s goals and needs differ. Moreover, time, industry trends and economic factors can change the business’ goals at any time. When this occurs, an outdated IT governance framework may not achieve your current, specific goals. That’s why it’s vital to customize your IT governance to your company’s current and unique needs.
There are several governance frameworks that leaders update to address the needs of the enterprise. Some of the common frameworks for IT governance include Factor Analysis Information Risk (FAIR), COBIT, COSO, Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) and ITIL. While these frameworks provide a foundation for establishing objective measurements and outlining important factors that take into account stakeholders interest, it’s important to choose a framework that works for your business’ needs and adjust the framework as the need arises.

6. Adjust Governance More Often

Modernizing IT governance requires adjusting the framework more frequently than in the past. While experts note that no formula exists that dictates the best times to refresh your governance program, they do advise adjusting your program whenever your organization evolves or its principles change. Facebook had to adjust its IT governance structure after the Cambridge Analytica data leak. From promising to cut off dormant apps from accessing user data to disclosing information about advertisers, the social media tech company has moved to adjust how it handles data governance to provide transparency for its users and protect user data.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that IT governance is a crucial part of any modern company in today’s digital era. But if you want to modernize IT governance, you have to put a few effective strategies in place. From extending the responsibilities of IT governance from CIOs to IT leaders to adjusting IT governance frequently, there are several key strategies you can implement to update your IT governance program. By using these key principles, you can set up your IT governance framework for success.

 

In my last post I talked about the benefits of having a dedicated Workfront system administrator. But from my experience with clients I’ve learned that not everyone anticipates needing full time resources to support a SaaS application. More often than not this stems from a lack of context—being unsure of what duties a sys admin could or should take on and not knowing just how much time those activities can consume. If your organization decides that it needs a Workfront administrator but doesn’t know what to expect, I have created a “starter” list of roles and responsibilities I have performed while working as a Workfront administrator:

 

1. User profile management (1-2 hours per month)

While your account rep will almost certainly ensure you don’t go over your license count for any extended period of time, it can be incredibly helpful to keep track of how close you are to the threshold, whether licenses are appropriately allocated across groups, and whether accounts need to be deactivated. Additionally, it’s a good practice to regularly validate that users have all the appropriate settings—layout template, job role, team assignments, etc.—even more so if you’re leveraging group administrators. Most of this can be easily done by setting up a few key reports. But they still require someone to manually check the information. Below are three simple reports I’ve used in the past:

  • Quarterly license audits
  • Bi-weekly Human Resources termination audits
  • Monthly groups and teams audits

 

2. Report and dashboard management (4-8 hours per month)

This one is no small feat. Depending on where you are in your Workfront journey, creating and managing reports could actually account for the vast majority of your time. The trick, of course, is to create a suite of reports that can be flexibly applied across users through a combination of wildcard filters. But the path to get there is not always so easy…or quick. In my experience, work in this area typically falls into one of three categories:

  • Create reports and dashboards to support project managers, project teams, and executive leadership
  • Customize layout templates for different user personas by applying dashboards to enhance the user experience
  • Quarterly report and dashboard audits

 

3. Custom fields and forms management (1-2 hours per month)

Custom fields can get tricky. Staying on top of field consistency and eliminating redundancy can be the difference between sys admin sanity and overload. But your users don’t really tend to care about all that so long as the fields and forms they need are to their liking. So it’s a “shadow” responsibility for any prudent admin to consistently review custom fields, make sure they have the right data type (string, date, currency, etc.), and that there’s as little redundancy as possible. Doing so will ultimately help keep the Workfront instance leaner and reduce the overhead associated with changes.

  • Create and update custom fields and custom forms to support the various teams using Workfront
  • Review fields across user groups and identify opportunities to consolidate

 

4. Create and maintain standard PMO processes and training documents (8-32 hours per month)

While Workfront is certainly a powerful tool it can’t technically dictate or enforce what your processes and procedures look like. It can help provide some structure; but it still requires users to take an appropriate set of actions in any given situation. That said, your processes certainly need to be simpatico with Workfront. And your procedures need to tie the two together. The Workfront administrator is a powerful resource for helping to do just that: defining procedures, mapping processes, and creating or maintaining training materials that educate staff on how to apply a process in a Workfront-driven world.

 

5. Troubleshoot technical Workfront issues and bugs and coordinate with Workfront technical support when necessary (40-48 hours per month)

I mean, come on, can you imagine a world without a support desk?

 

6. Test Workfront beta preview releases and inform executive leadership and the PMO of Workfront Release changes (4-5 hours per month)

Release management is a big one. There are really two scenarios: 1) completely new functionality or features are being released and you need to assess whether it makes sense to leverage them; or 2) features are being deprecated and you need to game plan how to roll out and train staff on alternatives. The latter doesn’t happen very frequently but when it does it poses a huge risk. Which is why someone needs to stay on top of the releases.

  • Workfront conducts three releases a year that have minor and significant changes to the software. It is recommended that a Workfront administrator or a dedicated resource review and test all new features in the Preview Sandbox region prior to launch
  • Testing is conducted to confirm that current workflows and processes will not be negatively impacted

 

7. Project development and management (1-2 hours per month)

These activities ring particularly true for organizations that don’t yet have fully matured project management methodologies—organizations where project plans may be subject to frequent change or the portfolio/project hierarchy is still fluid. But even teams that have been “PMO-ing” for ages will still find that they need to make the occasional change as they better learn how to take advantage of things like workflow automation and some of the other collaborative features of Workfront.

  • Create project templates in coordination with the PMO
  • Quarterly portfolio, program, and project audits
  • Quarterly queue audits

 

8. Perform general maintenance and updates of the Workfront system (4-8 hours per month)

Invariably things need to get tidied up. Even with the most careful user base there are errors and incorrect settings. And while it’s easy enough to ignore these things, they can go a long way to ensuring data integrity. And if you don’t care about data integrity right now, you will when it comes time to perform operational analysis. Want to know how long projects for a specific line of business take? Then you need to make sure the necessary custom fields are filled out. Need to re-baseline your project benchmarks? Then you need to have confidence in your duration actuals. At the end of the day, the data is all incredibly important, and while users do their best, you need a system of checks and balances to help ensure integrity and accuracy.

 

9. Create configuration documentation for all internal changes and updates to the Workfront system (1-2 hours per month)

A lot of organizations don’t take this one seriously. They see it as needless overhead. But from experience I can tell you it’s anything but. Configuration documentation is basically a requirements and design artifact that gets created when you implement the system and gets updated with each major change you make. It serves, in this sense, as a change log so that if ever you make a serious design/architecture faux pas you have a historical record of what things got changed from so that you can more easily change them back. Trust me when I say nothing is worse than implementing a major change only for there to be user mutiny and no quick means to change things back.

 

10. Traffic intake management (8-12 per month)

Depending on your processes or how many licenses you have, the number of users that can create projects might be incredibly limited. In these instances, traffic and project set up are handled, primarily, by system administrators. They act as traffic managers and make sure all the requisite details on custom forms are filled out and that all approvals are completed in accordance to PMO processes (as applicable). While this area of responsibility is more closely aligned with business users, it can often fall within the purview of sys admins and, when it does, it can take up a significant amount of time.

 

By now, hopefully you’ve realized not just how important dedicated sys admin support is, but how much of it there is to do. It takes a lot of time from a very skilled resource and can be incredibly difficult for someone to do “in the margins”. If you’ve been doing the math you know my “starter list” can easily eat up over 70% of an FTE. And that’s before we even delve into more advanced functions like operational analysis and continual process improvement. The moral of the story is that, if you’re wondering if a dedicate Workfront administrator will have enough to do, you’re asking the question the wrong way. The real question is “who will support these responsibilities if you don’t have a dedicated administrator?”

 

If you’re interested in learning more about what to look for in a Workfront system administrator or if you’d like information on our managed services, contact us at info@leappoint.com.

 

5 questions to ask yourself if you’re debating getting a system admin for Workfront

Many of our clients ask if they should hire a Workfront system administrator. As an ex-sys admin myself, my short answer is almost always “yes”. Workfront, like any other SaaS application in your stack, needs consistent love and care to ensure you’re getting the most out it. And as such, I highly recommend adding a full-time sys admin to your team. In fact, depending on the size of your Workfront instance, you may need more than one. But before you decide to hire a Workfront administrator, ask yourself the following questions:

 

  1. Do your current resources have the time necessary to maintain and update your Workfront instance?
  2. How many users will actively use Workfront?
  3. How mature is the PMO/project management function at your organization?
  4. Does your team/department have the budget to hire a Workfront system administrator?
  5. Has your organization used a Portfolio Project Management (PPM) tool in the past?

 

Let’s take a look at each of these questions in more detail and consider how and why they impact the potential need for a system administrator.

 

1. Do your current resources have the time necessary to maintain and update your Workfront instance?

If your resources do not have the time to test, maintain, and update your Workfront instance, it is highly recommended that you invest in a Workfront administrator or hire a consulting company [insert shameless self promotion for LeapPoint] to handle admin responsibilities. One of the biggest misconceptions about SaaS applications is that you pay someone to implement them for you and then you’re done. Full stop. No more changes required. The reality though, is that environments are in an almost constant state of flux. As users gain a more complete understanding of what the system can and can’t do, their requirements often change; as teams and processes and procedures all evolve, so too must the system configuration; as new features are rolled by the software vendor you need someone there to assess what they are, if they should be leveraged, and then actually implement the necessary changes. When you start to tally up the list of things that need to be done it becomes pretty clear that it’s a difficult responsibility for someone to assume in their spare time. And that’s before routine things like fielding user questions or creating reports.

 

2. How many users will actively use Workfront?

This question really builds upon the previous.  Just because you have X-number of users does not necessarily mean you need Y-number of system admins. However, when you think about maintaining and updating Workfront for the various user bases, there’s obviously a correlation between the number of users and the number of teams, groups, and processes and, in turn, the general complexity of the configuration. Many large enterprises have hundreds if not thousands of active users. And so managing licenses, teams, groups, and companies within Workfront takes significant time and the larger your active user base, the more likely you’ll need a Workfront administrator. While there’s no hard-and-fast rule, my experience has been that organizations typically benefit from a dedicated system admin at around 100 paid licenses (Work or Plan) and an additional 1/2 – 1 FTE for every 150-200 users past that. While it may sound like overkill to some, remember that the system admins are really the ones who ensure things run like a well-oiled machine. They’re the ones who are going to make sure you’re able to use the system to drive measurable business value.

 

3. How mature is the PMO/project management function at your organization?

Successful change management takes time, energy, and money. The more significant the change, the more of each of those things it usually takes. So when we think about the project management maturity of an organization, there’s going to be a very strong correlation between how nascent or unstructured their approach to project management is and the degree of change inherent in bringing in a very structured, very robust PPM tool like Workfront (see “Has your organization used a Portfolio Project Management (PPM) tool in the past?” for more on PPM). Having a dedicated Workfront system administrator can help promote and implement PMO initiatives or related PM processes if you don’t have a formal PMO. Even if you don’t have clear workflows and processes (or perhaps especially if you don’t), a dedicated Workfront administrator can help reduce the time it takes to implement changes at your organization, especially if change happens frequently.

 

4. Does your team/department have the budget to hire a Workfront system administrator?

The one’s pretty self explanatory. You can’t buy what you can’t afford. A couple of thoughts on the topic though. When making the case for sys admin support think about the previous questions and the fact that the effort related to them isn’t really optional. If you want Workfront—or any SaaS application—to be successful and deliver valuable impact to the business, these activities all need to be given dedicated attention, even if the attention isn’t coming from a dedicated resource. So if you don’t hire a sys admin, those responsibilities still have to go somewhere. And that usually means tradeoffs in terms of productivity or quality or potentially both. The other consideration I’ll throw out is that, in a lot of organizations, it can be easier to get budget for contractor support than headcount. It’s also easier to contract out part-time system admin work than to find a direct part-time hire. Together these facts help bolster the business case for this type of support, especially when you can demonstrate the value a sys admin will bring (or the risk inherent in not having one).

 

5. Has your organization used a Portfolio Project Management (PPM) tool in the past?

Workfront is a complex and powerful PPM tool. With that being said, a Workfront administrator has the knowledge and capabilities to configure your Workfront instance as efficiently as possible. When thinking about the cost-benefit of sourcing a sys admin versus using someone from your existing team, don’t discount the learning curve required to truly become an expert. And not just an expert in Workfront. But an expert in PPM methodology as well—object hierarchy, object relationship, etc. And then think of all of that in the context of having to manage and administer Workfront as part of a secondary responsibility. It’s sort of like trying to fly the plane while building it……while trying to learn to fly…..while trying to learn to build an airplane. A Workfront system admin is someone who will come equipped with all of this knowledge, helping you drastically reduce the time to value on your Workfront investment.

 

Ok, so DO I need a Workfront system administrator?

A good administrator will know how to configure your Workfront system to maximize user engagement, increase overall tool efficiency, and improve the effectiveness of the system and the way it’s used. They will know the limitations of the tool and when to “customize” objects (i.e., develop new features that are not out of the box features) in order to meet your organization’s demands. And they’ll know how to strategically “evolve” the configuration to provide continued improvements at a digestible pace. In a nutshell, they’ll enable your organization to leverage Workfront to drive tangible business value. So do you need one? Almost certainly.

 

But not every organization can justify hiring a full-time Workfront administrator. Some organizations repurpose an existing role so that part of the resource’s time will be devoted to Workfront administrative duties. Other organizations contract consulting firms like LeapPoint to perform Workfront administrator roles on their behalf. Either way, hiring or contracting a Workfront administrator will help your organization maximize user engagement, mitigate technical bugs and issues, and reduce the time and cost of fixing, maintaining, and updating your Workfront instance.

 

Still not sure? In the next post I’ll delve into more details about what the day-to-day looks like for many admins, providing a discrete list of responsibilities to help the Workfront community get a better sense of the full scope of the role, and discussing how Workfront administrators can help drive continuous improvement for the organization.

 

Want to learn more about system admin support? Contact us at info@leappoint.com.

 

 

Robotic process automation (RPA) involves configuring computer software or robots to automate and standardize business processes and communicate with other digital systems. Such bots work across application user interfaces, imitating the actions of humans, such as signing in and out of applications, checking emails, copying and pasting content, and filling forms.

RPA provides your business with greater efficiency, lesser costs and higher quality. It is applicable in a wide range of industries. It is not surprising that RPA is expected to be adopted worldwide in the next five years.

Technical Advantages of RPA

Ease of Implementation

RPA is easy to configure and deploy. It works well across multiple back-end systems. RPA software or bots interact with existing IT applications. They don’t need any re-architecting or system integration.

Efficiency in Business Processes

By automating IT infrastructure management, you can regularly detect and solve problems faster. RPA improves service desk operations and the monitoring of network devices, thereby increasing accuracy.

Machines can retrieve information, process language, and frame basic content much better now. This means RPA can respond to human beings in natural language rather than in software code, which helps you to conserve resources at customer support/service centers.

You can also use bots to improve personal productivity by deploying custom solutions in individual computers. Since all bots can be managed from a centralized server, your IT department would still be able to maintain control over all bots.

Proven Success

NASA launched four RPA proofs of concepts, found that all worked well, and is now opting for more RPA bots. The expectations of many organizations who implemented RPA pilots and proofs of concept have been met or exceeded.

Foundation for Other Applications

RPA is often the first step in your business’ digital transformation and in adopting artificial intelligence (AI). A recent survey on priorities in process and performance management found that 69 percent of digital strategies were achieved via RPA.

Is RPA a Threat to Human Resources?

RPA doesn’t mean that all your employees will lose their jobs. Instead, robotic systems will free them from repetitive, rules-based, non-subjective tasks, leaving them free to do jobs that need social awareness and decision-making.

Approximately 10-20 percent of employee hours are usually spent on dull, repetitive tasks. Most companies that implement RPA reallocate workers to more knowledge-based, creative and strategic processes, thereby improving productivity and innovation.

Your employees don’t need programming skills to set up RPA bots, assign them tasks, and manage them. Conversely, the bots might require direction from them to automate most processes.

RPA and Return on Investment (ROI)

A large percent of enterprises across industries are ready to make significant investments in RPA. It’s versatile and scalable enough to be used anywhere. RPA can provide a high ROI, thanks to its various benefits:

  • Improves all business processes
  • Provides uninterrupted 24/7 service
  • Reduces costs, increases throughput
  • Saves time and resources
  • Requires only minimal individual dependency and training
  • Delivers defect-free outcomes
  • Records all steps, making auditing easy
  • Maintains high security
  • Supports all compliance processes

RPA Best Practices

Before you opt for RPA, consider its impact on your business and employees. Use it not just as a way of saving expenses, but as a broader strategy.

Define desired ROI and focus on it. Find a good service provider to help implement RPA. Automate a stable, rules-based, repetitive, optimized, high-volume process first.

Build an RPA team capable of assessing feasibility of proposals and deploying RPA, managing it, and monitoring its efficiency. Gradually automate large, impactful processes. Combine non-intentional and planned RPA.

Ensure compliance with policy, corporate and legal requirements. Develop ROI metrics for RPA to help you make better decisions, learn from any problems, and optimize solutions.

RPA will deliver real value if you set well-defined parameters for it. When managed well, the relationship between technology and people can be quite fruitful.

In the workplace, change means progress, new technology, business growth, and increased productivity. But if poorly managed, change can only lead to one thing…employee burnout. What can you do to prevent change burnout and ensure sustainable results? Given the rush to digital transformation across all industries these days, the answer may surprise you – slow down.

In the fitness industry, there’s a widely known training method called Time Under Tension (or TUT for short). It is commonly used in strengthening, conditioning and bodybuilding – all of which involve changing one’s physiology. TUT refers to how long a muscle is under strain during a set. While you may see people at the gym powering through their training with heavy weights and be tempted to replicate their method, the idea of TUT is to think in slow motion – intentionally slow your workouts down to activate your muscles, focus on form, and prevent injuries. By taking the slow and steady path, and evolving your strategy once you pass specific benchmarks, you increase your odds of sustaining your new lifestyle and achieving your goals.

Similarly, a paced and steady path is crucial for effective change management. Technology has transformed every industry, and there’s an increasing pressure to keep up or be left behind. This triggers a knee-jerk reaction to seek change and implement it as quickly as possible. But just like people in the gym who are seeking fast results through heavy lifting, if you push for change too rapidly and without a phased plan of action, you’re likely going to hurt your progress and productivity. So what can you do to ensure smooth and successful transitions within your organization and avoid burnout? Here are 6 tips to follow:

1. Be transparent

When you realize change is necessary, be open with your employees about what needs to change. You’re likely making these changes to benefit those involved, so why keep your team in the dark? Before starting any implementation, hold a meeting to explain what the changes will look like, how and when they will take place, and the anticipated benefits. With open communication, employees are more likely to feel like valued members of the organization.

2. Listen

Digital leaders need a pulse on their organization’s baseline culture in order to recognize shifts in morale and other signs of change saturation. You hired your employees because they are smart, capable, and bring unique skills and perspectives to the table. So create opportunities for them to share their experiences and listen. At least as important as holding a meeting before implementing change is having regular follow-up sessions to keep your employees aware of progress as it unfolds and listen for potential signs of burnout. This time also provides space for employees to share their frustrations and concerns, find solutions, and feel “heard.”

3. Understand the impact change has on your workforce

Any significant change in the workplace can mean more stress for your employees – this can lead to poor performance and employee burnout. In fact, stress over organizational changes has been found to lower the average employee’s performance and engagement. Having a manager who understands the burden that change places on their employees and who encourages them to cope with that stress in healthy ways helps prevent burnout while promoting loyalty and a sense of comradery during transitional periods.

4. Reward champions of change

Adapting to change isn’t easy. But it’s made a little bit easier by encouragers and leaders within the team who step up to the plate when the process gets tough. Have you noticed certain employees going above and beyond to help others adjust to a new transition, share their knowledge, and support their teammates? Publicly reward those employees in unique ways (it doesn’t necessarily have to be in monetary form!) The reward matters less than the genuine expression of gratitude to your employees.

5. Delegate tasks

Significant workplace change may call for new roles to increase the odds of a smooth transition. To avoid overwhelming one or two employees, evenly distribute tasks associated with the change across your team, and publicly announce these change-related roles. This will give employees a personal investment in making the change a success and create a shared sense of having some skin in the game.

6. Publically post metrics and goals

Change in the workplace is hard enough. Don’t waste your team’s precious time tracking down information, instructions, and resources necessary to successfully adjust. Keep your goals and metrics accessible. Technologies and services are available to help your organization’s leaders post directions, processes, and helpful resources facilitate smooth transitions.

Recently, Adobe announced its 4.75 billion dollar purchase of Marketo – an investment that should move Adobe into a B2B marketing leadership position. Already a powerhouse in the marketing industry, Adobe Experience Cloud is setting the stage for domination with this purchase, but the real question remains – will you benefit?

Adobe Experience Cloud

Adobe’s Experience Cloud was launched in 2017, with the company rebranding its Marketing Cloud as one of three sub-clouds – the other two being Adobe’s Analytics Cloud and Advertising Cloud. Some of the most impressive features of Adobe Experience include the Visitor ID service, which is vital to core operations and integration ability, Dynamic Tag Manager, which supports tools for Adobe functions as well as Nielsen and Google, and Device Co-op, which is a device graph that promotes understanding of customer behavior. Adobe Experience Cloud is relatively new but has already established itself as a competitive player in cloud computing.

Marketo

Marketo is a SaaS marketing automation platform that B2B marketers find essential in building campaigns and making sales strategies operational. Sales reps use the system to understand business prospects’ behavior, while marketing executives use it to link marketing investments to the sales process and revenue generation. Marketo offers software features that allow lead management, lead scoring, mobile marketing, and website personalization, among other features. Marketo has positioned itself as a leader in B2B marketing automation, a position that Adobe Experience Cloud can only enhance.

What’s in it for you?

Since Adobe acquired Marketo rather than a company with their own CRM to push, you will continue to be able to connect any significant CRM to the platform. This means that users will benefit from having all the Adobe tools at hand without being forced to make a major, and possibly disruptive, CRM switch. Joining the Adobe Experience Cloud adds powerful, advanced capabilities to Marketo. Leveraging the market-leading platform allows Marketo to enhance its strengths in mobile marketing and personalization while taking advantage of industry-leading analytics- an area in which Marketo customers have felt frustration in the past. Marketo’s B2B users will also benefit in several ways, including through its personalization engine. These Adobe tools will particularly help B2B shops that have some B2C features in their business. Marketo was already working to strengthen this aspect of their business, the Adobe purchase immediately sends them to the head of the class, leapfrogging over their competitors.

The purchase of Marketo by Adobe Experience Cloud promises better service for users of both services. Adobe Experience has the B2C market handled with numerous easy-to-use tools that can only enhance Marketo’s B2B prowess. The combination of these marketing powerhouses means that you can have the best of both worlds, keeping your favorite functions while gaining even more effective marketing features for your clients’ use.

Only time will tell the exact impact of this purchase, but you and other people in the industry have every reason to expect better service all around. The combination of these two industry leaders promises to give you groundbreaking platform power.

As the amount of data and the pace of business increases, the need to manage and analyze data in a user-friendly platform is undeniable. Business Intelligence (BI) tools are the go-to solutions for transforming data into actionable knowledge that informs your organization’s strategic and tactical business decisions. With a variety of vendors to choose from, and that all seem to offer similar features and make similar promises, selecting a BI tool can be a lengthy process. So here are five things you should consider when choosing your BI tool:

1. Integration

To narrow down your BI tool choices, you need to select a standalone solution or an integrated solution. If you’re considering a standalone solution, you will have no shortage of options. However, you may experience low adoption rates due to these solutions existing in a separate application. It all goes back to that adage: out of sight, out of mind. Whereas reports in integrated solutions can be accessed and viewed through any pre-existing applications, websites, and services within your company – locations that users are already familiar with and use regularly.

Pro tip: If you choose to move forward with an integrated solution, you should ask if it is partially or fully integrated since some companies may not specify.

2. Data Management

Data management is at the core of everything you want to accomplish with a BI tool. When you are choosing the best BI tool for your organization, you have to consider your data and the functionality you’re seeking. The solution you choose should support access to multiple data sources (i.e., data warehouses, internal databases, the cloud and data marts), and depending on the disparate sources you are using, it may also need to cleanse and transform your data for proper use within its system. You will need to determine whether the tool must import data into its store before processing it, or if it can handle data queries on the fly – the answer to this question could have a notable impact on the speed at which you can access your data. You also need to ensure that the tool enables data manipulation once imported and find out what the limitations are on data capacity.

Pro tip: Some BI tools load your existing database data into their software and generate reports from there, saving you time from setting up your own data infrastructure. This type of tool could work if your data is small and fragmented. However, as your data increases, the cost incurred will also increase, and you would be limited to the functionality provided by the BI tool since your data would be stored within it.

3. Security

Security is non-negotiable for today’s mobile workforce. For internal security concerns such as access credentials, you must ensure the BI tool you are planning to buy is well equipped with proper encryption mechanisms. The tool should also offer you options to set the necessary permissions for protecting sensitive or proprietary information. These credentialing capabilities guarantee that secure data cannot be accessed, transmitted or altered by unauthorized users.

4. Visual Functionality & Usability

Your business intelligence reporting tool is the face of the whole operation. It’s what your users will refer to when making business decisions. So while ease-of-use, visual appeal, and intuitiveness may seem like nice-to-haves vs. need-to-haves, those user experience nuances can make the difference between successful user adoption or a refusal by employees to use the new system.

Pro tip: When deciding on a tool, you need to ask yourself the following questions

  • Is the tool easy to use?
  • Does the tool support a variety of user types?
  • Does the tool’s data visualization allow for customization and flexibility to support your goals and the requirements of the many functional groups in your organization?

 

5. Customization

No organization is the same in its operations and needs. You need to select a BI vendor that can support your requirements of today and in the future. It’s important to keep in mind that some vendors only provide minimal customization abilities, and others don’t give organizations the ability to expand. While this might work for a few companies, most will need a custom set-up –one that can integrate flawlessly into their operations, and develop as they grow.

1. Add a billing record to safeguard project

Although Workfront has recently added a recycling bin feature, deleting a project can cause panic, confusion, and loss of productivity, especially if the project you just deleted was a request queue. Prevent any worry around losing key projects by adding a zero dollar billing record to them.

Even if your company or group isn’t using the billing record feature for its native purpose, it can be used here as an extra layer of protection against project deletion. Simply go to the project, create a new billing record, and set the status to Billed”. Then, if someone attempts to delete the project this error message will display and the project will stay out of the recycling bin:

 

2. Make a placeholder job role to prevent assigning users to parent tasks

By default parent tasks can’t be updated or completed independently from their child tasks. The one task detail that can be independently edited on a parent task is the assignment; however, when users are assigned to parent tasks we find that it often leads to frustration when they receive the inevitable error message for trying update the status or completion percentage. To help prevent project managers and other users from accidentally assigning workers to parent tasks, create a job role titled “Do not assign – Parent Task”. Assign this to all of the parent tasks on your project templates and it will serve as a reminder/safeguard that these tasks are a summary of their child tasks and shouldn’t have a user assigned to them.

 

3. As a plan license user, view the resource planner by user

(Note: this assumes your Workfront instance has completed the prerequisites needed for Resource Planning) The Resource Planner is a helpful widget in Workfront to manage the allocation of resources to projects and forecast their availability for future work. Formerly, this was limited to only users who were listed as Resource Managers on projects. With recent updates, however, any user with a plan license can get valuable information from the Resource Planner by setting the view to “View by User”. If the view is set to View by Project or View by Role, results will only be returned for projects where the user is listed as a Resource Manager, putting you right back at square one. View by User doesn’t have that prerequisite and allows other plan license users to see the allocation of all users, regardless if they’re listed as a resource manager.

 

4. Change ID to name in text mode

(Note: this only works for details tab) When creating views and reports in Workfront, there will be instances where the information you want to display is too many levels away from the object you’re working on. This will limit the display options from the field explorer. For example, when adding a column to a task report or task view for the name of the project sponsor, you will find the only option is “SponsorID”. While this makes sense to the Workfront database, this doesn’t provide much value to users viewing the report. Luckily this can be changed with a quick text mode edit.

While in the report or view editor, click on the column for the ID field and switch to Text Mode.

  • On every line where you see “fieldnameID” change the “ID” to “:name”
  • For example change project:sponsorID to project:sponsor:name
  • Click “Save” in the text mode window, then save the view or report.
displayname=Documents
valuefield=project:sponsor:name
querysort=project:sponsor:name
valueformat=HTML
displayname=
linkedname=project
namekey=view.relatedcolumn
namekeyargkey.0=project
namekeyargkey.1=sponsor
namekeyargkey.2=name

 

5. Flag task commit dates greater than planned completion dates

Commit dates are set by task assignees and can’t be changed by the project owner. While the project manager is notified when commit dates affect the project timeline, it can be hard to quickly review a project and see which task commit dates are later than their planned completion dates. With some text mode code, the commit date field can be added to a task view with conditional formatting to display in red when later than the planned completion date.

This can be done by adding a blank column to a task view and switching to text mode, and pasting in the code below:

displayname= Commit Date
linkedname=direct
namekey=commitDate
querysort=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.icon=false
styledef.case.0.comparison.leftmethod=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.lefttext=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.operator=gt
styledef.case.0.comparison.operatortype=date
styledef.case.0.comparison.rightmethod=plannedCompletionDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.righttext=plannedCompletionDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.0.name=fontstyle
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.0.value=bold
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.1.name=textcolor
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.1.value=d30519
styledef.case.0.comparison.truetext=

Click “Save” in the text mode window then save the view you’re editing. Now when viewing a task list, any user commit dates that are later than the planned completion dates will be displayed in red.

 

6. Link directly to queue topics

Have you ever instructed someone to submit a Workfront request and found yourself listing off the steps of selecting the proper request queue, topic group, then queue topic? Theses directions can be eliminated and the end user experience enhanced by sending them a link directly to the queue topic. Instead of sending the URL “domain.workfront.com/requests” with instructions on which drop downs to select, if you select the request queue & specific queue topic, the URL in your browser grows with each selection. This enables the URL to take the user to the specific queue topic without having to manually make any selections. This is incredibly handy when posting Workfront URLs on intranet sites for users to submit work requests.

 

7. Link directly to a sub-tab on an object

In similar vein to tip #6, URLs can also be built to take users to specific tabs on a project, task, issue, etc. To land a user on a specific sub-tab of an object, Workfront allows for a parameter to be added to the URL with the structure below:

https://<domain>.my.workfront.com/project/view?ID=5b6c7eb5003d2022cea3a135cca33ac1&activeTab=tab-project-updates

Normally when viewing a project (or task, or issue), the URL stops after the object ID regardless of which tab is being viewed. By adding the parameter “&activeTab” the URLs will navigate directly to the project tab of your choosing. Some more examples:

 

URL modifier Landing tab
&activeTab=tab-project-details-forms Project Details
&activeTab=tab-project-approvals Project Approvals
&activeTab=list-project-documents Project Documents
&activeTab=tab-project-updates Project Updates
&activeTab=tab-project-optasks Project Issues

 

The same concept and URL structure works on other Workfront objects such as tasks, issues, programs, portfolios, etc. For other objects, simply change the object reference in the URL examples above from ‘project’ to the object you’re referencing.

 

8. Make sure your browser zoom setting is at 100%

Occasionally, when selecting a request queue or an option from a drop down field in older browsers, the drop down option menu appears on a random part of the screen or, in some cases, doesn’t appear at all. Although this seems like a major issue, 99% it’s not a bug and can be fixed very quickly. Double check the zoom on your browser and make sure it is set to 100%. In certain browsers, if the zoom is set to a value other than 100%, it can cause issues with drop downs appearing.

 

9. Link to documents in a project or task view

Use this text mode trick to create hyperlinks to documents from a project view. When creating a project/task view or report, add a blank column and switch into text mode. Copy and paste in the text mode code below, and be sure to update the <domain> section of the URL with the domain of your Workfront instance.

displayname=Documents
listdelimiter=
listmethod=nested(documents).lists
textmode=true
type=iterate
valueexpression=CONCAT({name}, - "https://&lt;domain&gt;.my.workfront.com/document/view?ID=",{ID},"; ")
valueformat=HTML

Click “Save” the text mode window, then save the view or report. Now, when viewing the results, the names of any attached documents will be listed along with a URL to navigate directly to the document.

 

10. Find projects with no tasks, issues, or documents

After Workfront has been implemented, there will inevitably be projects in your system that were either created by mistake or abandoned shortly after creation. While many of these can be cleaned up by searching your instance for “Untitled Project” and deleting any results, this doesn’t work for projects that have had a name change. To assist in system maintenance, use this text mode to find projects with no tasks, issues, or documents. Creating a project report, go to the filter page, switch into text mode, and paste in the code below:

EXISTS:a:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:a:$$OBJCODE=OPTASK
EXISTS:a:projectID=FIELD:ID
EXISTS:b:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:b:$$OBJCODE=TASK
EXISTS:b:projectID=FIELD:ID
EXISTS:c:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:c:$$OBJCODE=DOCU
EXISTS:c:projectID=FIELD:ID[/CSS]