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Your Workamajig Implementation Team – The Core Team Principle

Overview

One of the first steps in software implementation is establishing your implementation team (aka the Core Team). So what is the Core Team, and what do they do? The Core Implementation team works as a unit to define the implementation project and requirements; configure and customize the software solution; and learns, as well as trains others, how to use the software system. This leadership team will be responsible for a comprehensive understanding of the software and how to use it. They will also make sure this information is effectively taught to all members of the organization.

Let’s discuss the number of Core Team members you should have, how to select the right core team, specific member responsibilities and roles, determining meeting schedules and availability, and how to build on what the Team is able to accomplish after implementation is complete, long after you are live in the new software system.

Team Size

Your Core Team should consist of 3-5 individuals, depending on the number of staff using your software. This does not mean you won’t rely on the hard work and contributions of additional staff members. But a smaller team does mean you will likely encounter fewer obstacles while making key implementation decisions and learning the software system. The Core Team can easily solicit staff feedback or outsource various administrative tasks without having to add additional Team members.

For companies with a larger user base, we recommend organizing sub-groups based on organizational leadership such as “Department Supervisors” or “Team Leads”. Or, you may have groups that are organized by software user group or department (“Super Users” or “Subject Matter Experts”). These groups will assist the Core Team by providing feedback on current workflows. They should be among the first users to be trained so they can provide additional, critical feedback and depth to your training plan (training the trainers).

Selecting Team Members

So who should be part of this elite unit of software heroes? Core Team membership is not a lifetime achievement award, popularity contest or referendum on office politics. You need team members with positive attitudes who are outcome oriented. Members of the Core Team also need to work good with others.

Of course, it’s always great to have team members who are generally good with new technology and software in general, or have successful implementation experience. They need to be advocates for software change. It’s also beneficial to have team members with solid administrative skills – someone who takes good notes, organizes meetings, and is generally skilled at orchestrating order out of chaos. But, keep in mind that you can invite someone with these skills to help participate in your meetings without actually giving them a true “vote” or “voice” per se with the Core Team.

Make sure to select members representing multiple departments or user groups. If you have accountants, one of them will certainly be on the Team. You will also need to have a project/traffic manager – someone who represents the agency’s internal resources and interests. Creative staff tend to be more vocal with their disdain of software systems, but don’t let them fool you! Anyone who can navigate the Adobe Creative Cloud can handle your basic project management system. Besides, creatives are your ultimate end users and doers for the agency – their input into your processes should be represented in a REAL way.

Next, I would select an individual who is more client-facing (account managers or new business managers), as they are typically the origin of the information that ultimately triggers use of your system.

Throughout this selection process it’s important to keep in mind you may not always have a choice when it comes to particular individuals – sometimes a specific staff member’s authority and/or responsibilities may require they become a member of the team, even if they don’t possess desired qualities.

Finally, make sure you have an owner/executive sponsoring the Core Team. They do not have to be on your Core Team, but we require their involvement on all implementation projects (more on this in the next section).

Team Member Roles and Responsibilities

There are a number of key roles that must be filled within your Core Team. Keep in mind that multiple roles may be held by one person. Also, a role may be filled by someone who is not on the Core Team (scribe, champion, owner, etc.). They can participate in implementation activities without being involved in the major decisions that drive this implementation project.

Administrator – This person owns the implementation project and they own Workamajig (is this you?). They will preside over the Core Team. They may or may not actively use or participate in all Workamajig apps deployed during the implementation. However, they should be comfortable using all aspects of the system.

Core Admin Backup – The administrator needs a backup – remember the rule of redundancy: two is one; one is none. This person essentially has to know and understand Workamajig as well as the administrator. They fill in for the administrator whenever needed and can help facilitate any of their responsibilities accordingly.

In theory, both the administrator and their backup will have access to all parts of the system, including sensitive, financial data. This typically means these members will be accountants – but this is not a requirement. My favorite admin/backup dynamic duo pairs the accountant with the project manager.

Owner/Executive – This person may or may not be a part of the Core Team. This person signs off on and enforces the decisions made by the Core Team. They also hold the Core Team and its members accountable for the implementation. Implementation failure is almost impossible when you have multiple, key staff (such as the owner and administrator) accountable for the same objective. Workamapro, Inc. requires all projects have an owner or executive (for marcoms).

Project Champion – Every internal project will require a leader who can insure successful execution. This person must have some form of senior leadership (owner or executive) over the company and must be able to overcome the obstacles that will inevitably occur throughout the project. A good project champion supports the project and can sell its virtues to the owner of the company in order to obtain their full commitment. They are also able to help broker solutions to difficult decisions that require compromise across multiple departments and among seniority staff.

Scribe – Someone has to be in charge of documenting key communications and decisions that occur throughout your meetings and amongst your team. They can also help to identify and clarify the organization’s fluid goals for the project.

Documentation Specialist – This person is responsible for documenting your processes, training milestones, and training materials. Training materials can be custom-made or adapted from the Workamajig Help Guide. To help develop better documentation, set up website wiki’s or intranet sites, or utilize a solid screen capture/recording program such as SnagIt or Camtasia. A picture is worth a thousand words. A video is worth a thousand pictures. My friend John Burdett, owner of Fast Slow Motion, forces his staff to shoot their Salesforce training videos in one take. That way you never have to worry about shooting the perfect video – it’s guaranteed to be imperfect. Try it!

Meeting Organizer – anyone on the Core Team can organize meetings but particular care should be taken in larger organizations where the complexity of implementation objectives meets the chaos of client business. You are going to have a lot of meetings and someone has to assist in determining availability as well as scheduling times and resources to facilitate the meetings.

Team Meetings and Availability

The Core Team should meet to create an initial implementation schedule and set the frequency of Core Team meetings. Consideration should also be made for the availability of each team member so that the team can plan accordingly. For individual members, decide what percentage of their day can be committed to the project. Additionally, consider their weekly schedule – specifically which days they can commit and how many uninterrupted hours they can dedicate to the project during those particular days.

Consideration must be made for daily, weekly and monthly responsibilities. For example, we may say that an individual can devote 2 hours per week to this project. However, it will become more important to understand the actual impact and breakdown of this time – is that .25 hours per day, but no time on Mondays? Or is it .5 hours on Mondays and Thursdays, with a full hour on Wednesdays? The key is making sure you have a full accounting of all fixed time obligations that can be assigned to individuals and the team, and all ad hoc time that the group or individuals can utilize, working at their own pace.

Finally, be sure to consider all known personal time off for team members that will occur and therefore disrupt or require an update of your implementation schedule.

Whatever time constraints are deemed appropriate should be signed off on by the executive/owner contact to signal the importance of the project to both the team members and the rest of the organization. These constraints must be honored across the company so that the implementation project isn’t continually rescheduled (or ultimately never happens).

What Next? Keep the Team Together

The Core Team doesn’t split up after you are live in Workamajig. They should continually monitor your staff to ensure they are using the system as intended. You have worked on an implementation plan to go live in the system. That plan does not live in a vacuum. In fact, it becomes outdated the moment you are live in Workamajig, because, as a group, you are now better informed about your organization’s needs and how to use the software.

Your staff should have a channel to communicate support needs. Most importantly, you must listen to each other’s ideas for improving the way you work. Workamajig will help reveal your inner pain points, redundancies, and inefficiencies.

The Team should continue to meet on a regular basis (at least monthly). Each team member should be prepared to discuss what they think is working well with the system and what they feel can be improved. Together the group can form a consensus about which of these items should be flagged as a future operational enhancement, and which items should be updated immediately. Then, the team can work together to implement the needed changes, and update operational plans accordingly. By working in this manner, you create a habit of continuous process improvement. Always look for a better way to meet an objective.

Ultimately, it is the executive/owner’s job to ensure the Team keeps moving toward the goal. Enforcing consequences when priorities get off track is part of that responsibility.

Implementing new software is not a suggestion. It is a final destination – an agreed upon change that IS happening. It’s part of a job description – the job’s functions, duties, company policy, etc. Certainly difficult things should be communicated so that the right behaviors can be channeled to the appropriate parties, but if a particular process does not gel with the group, it doesn’t mean it can be ignored or overlooked. Never stop pushing for the end result. Your Core Team will help you get there!

 

 

 

Preparing for Platinum: Tactics for Transitioning your Team to Workamajig Platinum

Overview

Now is the time to begin planning your full transition into Workamajig Platinum. At this stage, all modules in Workamajig Classic have most or all features moved into Platinum, with the remaining features set to be released this late Summer to early Fall.

We’ll begin with a discussion about re-installing your Workamajig Core Team — wait, you mean you haven’t stayed together since implementation (shame!)? Then, we will discuss your strategic approach to implementation (phased vs. full implementation). Next, we get into the nitty gritty of defining your user groups, listing the features you currently use in Workamajig and then assigning these features to relevant user groups. We will discuss integrating Workamajig support and we will plan how you can customize the system to optimize its use. Finally, we’ll discuss an approach to training and documentation that will work for you! We will offer a few closing thoughts that will carry you well past the switch to Platinum.

Assemble Your Core Team

It’s time to reassemble or re-establish that Core Implementation Team (if you haven’t already). Your core team should consist of 3-5 individuals. You will need an Administrator – this is the person who will own Workamajig and preside over the Core Team. The Administrator needs a backup — remember the rule of redundancy: two is one; one is none. These two individuals will have access to all parts of the system, including sensitive, financial data. This typically means these members will be accountants, but that is not a requirement by any means. The remaining team members should be representatives of other departments.  You must have a traffic and/or project manager representative.  Don’t overlook having a team member from your Creative Department. It’s a myth that creatives aren’t good with software.  If they can navigate Adobe Creative Suite, they can understand Workamajig.

The members you select should be good at working with others. We need a team with positive attitudes who are outcome oriented. It is beneficial if they have successful implementation experience or are generally good with software and technology. It’s always good to have someone who takes good notes, organizes meetings, and is skilled at orchestrating order into chaos. This elite unit will devise an overall strategic plan and the specific tactics necessary to accomplish each milestone towards a successful software transition.

Creating a List of User Groups

Not everyone in your company will use Workamajig the same way. We need to group certain classes of users together so that we can plan their use and training in Platinum accordingly. Focus more on how they use the system rather than what the users do on a daily basis. For example, there may be no need to develop user case examples for both “designers” and “developers” simply because they perform completely different functions for your company. If their primary use for the system is going to be the same (for example, time entry and deliverable review), then I suggest keeping these users in the same group.   Preferably, these groups will align with the default apps in Platinum: creative, project manager, resource manager, and the more financially-based Apps that are typically covered by one person and/or role (i.e. Accounting). Ultimately, more groups mean more work in documentation, management, system setup, and training. Simplify. Streamline. Be flexible enough that minor differences or exceptions among your staff do not require the creation of additional user groups.

Assigning Training Milestones to User Groups

Once you have a good understanding of your user groups begin thinking about what things each group actually does in Workamajig. These items will become your training milestones. Now is not the best time to change the way they use the system. If you want to audit and improve your use of Workamajig, do that later.

Begin by creating a list of every thing you do in Workamajig. The best way to do this is to use your Workamajig menu as a guide. For example, click menu, and beginning from the top, go through all items to determine a static list of everything that is done in Workamajig. Document these items in a spreadsheet and indicate which features will be used by each group and what each user type will do. Feel free to download a sample sheet I’ve created for you:  Workamajig Training Milestones and User Groups to get started.  Then, you can create separate documents for each user group and copy/paste the list of milestones each will be required to use in Workamajig.

Contact Workamajig Support

Once you’ve outlined your groups and how they will use the system, it’s time to reach out to your Workamajig trainer or support person (support@workamajig.com). Let them know you are preparing to transition to Platinum and ask about training options. They can direct you to free, existing resources that currently reside in your Help guide. You can also inquire about setting up training sessions with them. It’s important to do this early while you are still in the planning stages of this transition. You never know what your support representatives availability is going to be, so call well in advance of when you actually need to have the training. This will allow you to attempt self-training and develop a list of questions based on your experience in Platinum. This will improve the training that you get from Workamajig Support. Prior to any live training, provide Support with your questions and documentation so they can have an idea of which system components you plan to use.

Create Custom Menus by app

Note: This optional step requires a more advanced understanding of Workamajig Platinum and will require an understanding of your System Setup and the new Platinum “System Settings”.

At this stage, you have determined your user groups and how they will use the system. Now let’s make sure the system is configured in a way that makes each groups’ lives a bit easier. If you make the system easy to use, then your team is more likely to use it. And the best software tool in the world is worth nothing if it isn’t used correctly.

First, let’s make sure you have a security group set up for each user group defined in your previous steps. Hopefully, your user groups will already be aligned with your security groups.  Note, I am not advocating a complete overhaul of your security. Flag that as a future enhancement. Today, you are only focused on getting ready for the transition from Workamajig Classic to Workamajig Platinum.

Once we have the groups set up, we can setup customized menus in System Setup (Platinum-only) under the new feature for Custom Menu (System Setup > Account Information > System Options > Custom Menu (see the Help Guide). From here, you simply select the appropriate security group and then use your list of features to determine what their app menus should include. This will make it much easier for your team to access and navigate towards the Workamajig features they need. This may not be as important for higher level users of the system since they will regularly need to be in and out of multiple menus and apps. Once you have configured the custom menus, you can review the screens used by all of the apps. Click the …more option and select SYSTEM SETTINGS. This option will give you the opportunity to review the Company Defaults for each screen and also tailor the options based on security group – win/win.

Implementation Strategy

At this stage, your Platinum plan has been documented and your system has been customized for use. You now need to create a timeline for when each user group will be live in the new Platinum environment. Note that you do not have to switch everyone over at the exact same time – this is what is referred to as a full implementation. We believe that a phased implementation is appropriate for Platinum, considering that you are already in the Workamajig environment and are not actually changing the way you use your system.

So, which user group do you begin with?  Just click on your Platinum main menu and you’ll see:  creatives > salesperson > project manager>etc.  This should loosely resemble your user groups and is the order we would suggest that you deploy each group.  That’s easy enough to remember, right?  Set target dates to go live in each of your groups, making sure to take a two-week break between the go live date for each group. The idea is to take the easy wins and build your user adoption rates upon each successful deployment.

We know creatives will LOVE the new Platinum environment. This will encourage the sales/CRM users and enable you to build on your successes. Then, if you find that you can deploy a particular group in less time, or even combine their individual release, go for it! Conversely, if a particular group’s implementation takes longer than planned, then gather the Core Team and find out why. It’s possible that there are good reasons to expand your deployment schedule.

Training and Documentation

It’s time to get your initial training from Workamajig support.  Remeber, you actually began this stage well in advance (imagine that?) of actually needing your Platinum training from Workamajig. Workamajig should already be aware of your needs and perhaps the sessions have already been scheduled.  You should go into each session having already made your attempts to use each part of the system you are being trained on so that you already have a list of questions and can get answers. Additionally, bring Workamajig documentation to each session. Document any changes to the Workamajig-provided Help Guide and any specific work flow ideas that you have.

Now, you should be ready to begin practicing your training methods on yourselves (the Core Team). Begin by reviewing your list of training milestones for a specific user group, and practice training one another on all of the milestones for that group. Let your core team execute items from the training milestone list in Workamajig Platinum as if they were an individual from a particular user group (e.g. a “Creative”). Document any questions or concerns you have and contact Workamajig Support to resolve them. Review your Workamajig Help Guide and create your own documentation where needed.

Once you have a training plan in place, practice and test it out on a user outside of your Core Team. Make adjustments as needed until you are comfortable training each respective group. Document their questions and concerns and make further adjustments to your plan accordingly. You are creating a continuous feedback loop that will provide your core team with a deeper understanding of your system.  This has the added benefit of improving your user adoption rates because you are incorporating feedback from the people who have to actually use the system! You will repeat these steps for each user group that you have defined.

Once the training plan is fully vetted, take each user group’s list of Workamajig features and copy/paste your customized documentation and training into each document. Set up days and times to train each user group with sufficient time before they are expected to be live in Platinum. Allow sufficient time to practice everything the teams have learned and allow your users to bring back any questions they have to the Core Team.

Considerations Before Platinum Go-Live

Clean up your data.  A day in the life of a creative group is predictably unpredictable. There are only so many things you can control. Out of date information is one of them. Clean up your data before making the switch to any particular app:

  • Make sure everyone’s time sheets are up to date (entered, submitted, and approved).
  • Close out and de-activate projects that are no longer an active concern.
  • Update the billing status of your Project Transactions.
  • Make sure Platinum knows which Tasks are complete and which ones are still being worked on.
  • Make sure Tasks that have been assigned to your staff are reflected as such in your system. We want to eliminate as many potential problems or questions as possible prior to switching platforms.

Create a support channel (company intranet, wiki, or document library) to manage your ongoing needs in this system. No need to re-communicate the same support information repeatedly. Document questions that arise and produce answers that are available to everyone.

  • How do I _____?  This support document should capture all user questions about how to perform a particular company process in Workamajig.
  • Where is my _____?  This support document should capture all user questions regarding any particular piece of data they need to access.

Once a solution is in place, you can update your training documentation, update your list of future enhancements, and/or park the issue and resolution within a more general FAQ-type document.

Workamajig: Where to begin? Timesheets.

Workamajig implementation can be a daunting task. Not only do you have to configure a new software system, but ideally, you have to evaluate your current practices and identify opportunities to streamline them. Oh yeah, and you have to learn how to actually use Workamajig. This process begs the question: where do I begin? The answer is timesheets.

Timesheets are a predictor of your company’s ability to streamline operations and use Workamajig to its full potential in the same way that a child’s reading level by the second grade is a predictor of their success in education. You need to have a time entry policy clearly defined before going live with this system. More importantly, you must have controls in place to manage this process, and make sure they are being adhered to. Many companies look for creative incentives to encourage proper time entry. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but ultimate success will come from the top of your organization.

It is easy for a president or manager to say they think time entry is important, but actions speak louder than words. I am not advocating a system for punishment. Rather, top management must create a chain of accountability for adhering to this process. That means they must buy-in, and hold their staff accountable to this ideal. No employee wants to sit in a closed door meeting with their boss to discuss time entry. Better yet, managers don’t want to sit in a closed door session with their company president and be held responsible for staff not adhering to a time policy. The motivation becomes clear and you will discover that we may be talking about your organization’s ability to execute more than we are talking about time entry.

So why are timesheets so important anyway? Workamajig is a comprehensive system. All members of your team log in to a system and rely on the information they need to be accurate. Time entry forms the basis for most information in your system. If your team cannot rely on its accuracy, then they will not rely on Workamajig for information. Your efforts for Workamajig success begin to erode at this early stage of acceptance, and your investment just became a machine your employees feel obligated to feed — rather than a tool to align multiple departments managing complicated information towards a common goal.

Daily time entry also tends to drive data and process in well-managed Workamajig systems. Time entry can be utilized to evaluate progress on a project, communicate task workload to other employees, and keep real-time monitoring of project budgets. This marvel of efficiency and communication will be as effective as your teams time entry.

Workamajig does not solve your business’s problems. It does not make your company run more effectively. Workamajig is the most effective tool you have, however, to manage a complicated business. It is a tool, best capable of mirroring the discipline and process your are willing to manage in your organization. Maybe your team isn’t “there” yet. For those groups, Workamajig proves it value and creates a bridge to take your organization to a higher standard of operation.

Workamajig is a powerful tool and will require an investment of your time to learn and manage it properly. You will find it to be a continuing education, one that can help you establish and refine your company’s most precious intangible asset: information. Proceed cautiously and don’t expose your team to the growing pains of learning a new system if you do not feel confident in your time entry policy and your ability to execute it effectively.

Tony Mikes – Financial Analysis and Management Reporting

Tony Mikes is from Second Wind Network — his Second Life! Tony has been an agency principal, running an agency outside Philadelphia consisting of about 50 employees. Tony spent 8 years out of college as a copywriter, out of sheer chance.

Tony created Second Wind as a Second Life to help smaller agencies, and brings classically-trained advertising expertise into your ad agency. Tony will talk to us today about ‘How do we run this business?’. Continue reading “Tony Mikes – Financial Analysis and Management Reporting”

The Way: Workamajig Project Communication and Collaboration – Mike Wang

Communication and collaboration enter Workamajig in a couple of forms. We begin by looking at the Diary. The diary began as a notes section for the Project. It continues to do so, but now we have embellished the Activity feature so that it is grouped within a Project. This can manage Project communications, such as the client wanting to update their color scheme to Blue. When the Traffic Manager, for example, adds this note, they can then locate and click on any of the Envelope icons to add relevant parties (as indicated by the related section where the icon resides) to an email list Continue reading “The Way: Workamajig Project Communication and Collaboration – Mike Wang”

The Project Way: Workamajig Traffic Schedules and Assignments – Mike Wang and Ron Ause

Assigning placeholder employees in your template can help you reduce the level of work entailed in creating a new project. This does mean that you will need to reassign the task to a live employee at some point. How we will execute this reassignment. Open the Traffic – Staff Schedule view (Menu/Projects/Traffic/Staff Schedules). Remember you can add this option to your jiggy bar. The left side of the menu gives you filtering options to make it easier to access the data relevant to what you are trying to accomplish. This will help you isolate the various departments, people, services, etc. to determine who has available workload to transfer the assignment to. NOTE: Remember that the placeholder staff cannot have login data or you will be charged for their account. But do keep them Active. Continue reading “The Project Way: Workamajig Traffic Schedules and Assignments – Mike Wang and Ron Ause”

Workamajig Project Management: The Project Way and Project Templates- Ron Ause

Project Templates – when you create a new project you can elect to copy the project setup from a project template. The idea is that you are wanting to copy similar work instead of rebuilding a project from scratch each time. They become the gatekeepers of your standards, which are housed within your templates. We have added a new project in our example by using the brochure template. The new project is opened; keep in mind that the command options for Projects can be collapsed to enable easier viewing. This is available on an individual basis. So, the project has been opened.

We proceed to the estimating screen Continue reading “Workamajig Project Management: The Project Way and Project Templates- Ron Ause”

Catherine McIntyre-Velky: The Principles Project Management

Project Management – Why do we NOT have time to do it right, but we always have time to do it over?

What is Project Management anyway? Tasks may vary but the principles are the same across all agencies. It doesn’t matter the medium; you have a strategy and objective; you have estimates and approvals; creative development and execution. They are the same steps in the larger picture. Project Management is a discipline that brings multiple disciplines together. A Project Manager is making sure people are doing what they should be doing when they should be doing it, and addressing issues along the way. Continue reading “Catherine McIntyre-Velky: The Principles Project Management”

The Way: Project Intake – Mike Wang

The Way: Project Intake – Mike Wang

Mike begins by telling us about Workamajig Labs, available to Conference Attendees May 1. It will be added to System Setup. You will view new features and can opt to deploy these features or not. Each user, who has the security rights, can turn on their lab items at the user level if the Company decides not to at a Company level.

There are two ways you can intake a project based on how projects come into an agency. Continue reading “The Way: Project Intake – Mike Wang”

Workology 2.0 – WWP with Blair Enns

Blair teaches creative firms to win new business without giving away your thinking for free. New book coming out. Describes the sales pitch as a flaw in the business process. It is fundamentally flawed. What Blair doesn’t like about New Business Development:

It’s expensive. It causes agencies to sacrifice respect. Self-respect and Client respect. Sacrificing the position of the firm. You should be able to position yourself as experts. Continue reading “Workology 2.0 – WWP with Blair Enns”