FOCUS Brands standardises marketing requests and approvals for seven creative teams in Workfront.

Developer of global multi-channel food service brands relies on Adobe Workfront to nearly eliminate paper-based routeing, speed audits and improve team efficiency by 20%.


Atlanta, Georgia


Saved in administrative time a week

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Implement more advanced project management software

Eliminate time-consuming and error-prone manual processes

Simplify process of assigning tasks, conducting audits and managing approvals

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20% estimated increase in team efficiency

30 fewer hours spent on creative audits annually

Five hours saved in administrative time a week

Lower paper and printing costs

Imagine producing national marketing campaigns for multiple brands with hundreds of franchisees. That’s exactly what FOCUS Brands does as part of the company’s commitment to develop food service brands through a repeatable operating model. FOCUS Brands has seven creative teams responsible for helping to build brand loyalty and drive revenue across the U.S. and internationally.


For a national promotion across Moe’s Southwest Grill locations, for example, FOCUS Brands may create up to 100 different deliverables. To better position the company for expansion and digital delivery, FOCUS Brands implemented Adobe Workfront. Today, Workfront enables brand marketers and creatives to be more productive and efficient.


FOCUS Brands Inc., through its affiliate brands, is the franchisor and operator of more than 5,000 ice cream shoppes, bakeries, restaurants and cafes throughout the U.S. and in over 60 countries under the brand names Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Schlotzsky’s®, Moe’s Southwest Grill®, Auntie Anne’s® and McAlister’s Deli®, as well as Seattle’s Best Coffee® on certain military bases and in certain international markets.

The challenge

After a reorganisation of the company’s marketing teams, FOCUS Brands’ traffic managers realised they needed a more robust work management solution than their existing legacy solution used to manage and co-ordinate project delivery.

“Workfront is the clear leader in delivering the capabilities marketers should have in a work management solution. One of the best things about Workfront is that it’s constantly being updated. Workfront is a living, breathing technology.”

Katie George

Creative Services Traffic Manager, FOCUS Brands

Rudimentary system and manual processes

The legacy project software allowed team members to enter tasks, but traffic managers and creatives still relied on Microsoft Excel documents and received individual requests via email containing Microsoft Word documents outlining requirements from FOCUS Brands field marketing managers (FMMs) and franchisees. Creatives wasted time searching through email threads to view requests and communications and had no way in the legacy system to attach artwork proofs for review and approval.


Manual, paper-based processes were the norm for job requests and assignments, auditing and approval cycles. Within the Moe’s Southwest Grill brand, for example, paper-based processes could be time consuming and error prone:


  • Requests and assignments
    The traffic manager would print out the details from the legacy system and leave pieces of paper on the desks of the designers assigned. If creatives needed more information about specific jobs, they would have to go back to the traffic manager because they didn’t know origin of requests. If assigned employees happened to be out of the office visiting franchisees, several papers accumulated and tasks were delayed or assignments sometimes got lost.
  • Approvals
    Designers printed full-colour artwork for review and placed copies on the traffic manager’s desk to be routed to approvers. “Hard routes” included the traffic manager completing a paper-based form with job specifics (e.g., number, requestor, name etc.) and then physically taking paper copies and forms with review instructions (e.g., edits, spell check or approval) to approvers’ desks. The hard routeing process took the traffic manager between 15 minutes and 2 hours daily to complete. If FMM approvers were out of the office, artwork was emailed to them instead. The manual process concluded with approvers returning to the traffic manager’s desk with artwork changes or approval. If changes were requested, the manual process would begin again. Although legal approval was always conducted via email, it was also a time-consuming process because a traffic manager had to gather artwork into one PDF file and create associated descriptions in response to potential questions.
  • Auditing and reports
    The traffic manager would search the legacy project system to identify and count the number of jobs that were part of each national promotion and include that data in a comprehensive report to management. If jobs were misspelled or entered incorrectly, they would unintentionally be omitted from the report.

According to Katie George, Creative Services Traffic Manager for FOCUS Brands, “We needed to modernise our approach and increase our process sophistication to ensure that we could continue to meet franchisee needs.”

The Workfront solution

After an evaluation of project management tools, FOCUS Brands selected Workfront because it offered a comprehensive set of capabilities, including project management, digital proofing and dashboard reporting. The company embarked on a phased roll out and by early 2016, seven different creative teams representing FOCUS Brands’ restaurant and snack groups, as well as its international and channels groups were using the solution.

Standardised requests and assignments

Although FOCUS Brands developed separate request queues for each brand, it standardised selections across brands by creating approximately 20 different customised forms in Workfront for common deliverables — from flyers and billboards to business cards and more. Now franchisees and their local marketing managers can make requests of FOCUS Brand FMMs directly in Workfront.


“Workfront makes it easy for an unlimited number of users to search on various types of promotions — such as “kids eat free” — and submit requests to our FMMs,” explains George.


Requests approved by FOCUS Brand FMMs appear on one Workfront dashboard and are instantly assigned by brand traffic managers to creative team members to begin work. Every day, creatives can review all of their daily — and even weekly — tasks on their My Work pages. All project communications and collaboration related to specific tasks and projects is contained in the centralised work management system, providing greater transparency to marketers and franchisees.


“When team members need to look up a past job or find artwork, Workfront search is so much easier than going through six months of email,” says George.

Digital approvals

Previously only available in paper copies for routeing, artwork proofs are now uploaded into Workfront projects and tasks. Workfront Digital Proofing capabilities have replaced the need for FOCUS Brand traffic managers to complete paper-based artwork routeing forms by hand. With automated proofing in Workfront, FOCUS Brands team members are more efficient.


Workfront Digital Proofing is an integral part of FOCUS Brands’ new workflow and keeps creative deliverables from getting delayed or lost. Without scanning documents or sending huge email attachments, creatives share digital proofs with approvers who can then add comments and feedback directly into the artwork. Legal team members can also simply be added to a project review to ensure campaign language and designs are in compliance with industry requirements.


“I simply go into document approvals and type in the name of our legal representative who is then automatically notified by Workfront that there is a request waiting for her,” says George. “It’s that easy.”


FMMs and franchisees are free to be mobile, knowing they can digitally review designs from anywhere, at any time. Teams no longer lose a day or two on approval cycles when employees are remote. Moreover, the company is saving money as a result of using less paper and ink.

Automated dashboards, creative audits and reporting

In the case of one of the brands, the traffic manager conducts a creative audit after each national promotion. In a single report generated by Workfront, requests can be pulled out separately by number and accounted for without having to know the names of any of the team members working on it or the titles of the specific tasks. FMMs and traffic managers can also use dashboards to sort reports by projects or franchisee to better understand demand.


With more accurate reporting, FOCUS Brands creative teams have the data required to demonstrate need for additional freelance resources.


“I don’t dread the five audits I do every year any more,” says George. “I just open a report in Workfront, change the parameters to match the new campaigns and instantly run a new report.”

“I’m a champion of making workflow improvements through technology and both the Workfront community and the software are best in class.”

Katie George

Creative Services Traffic Manager, FOCUS Brands


Across brands, the company’s creatives work on nearly 500 concurrent marketing jobs at any given time. Workfront has enhanced project delivery, enabling creative services team members for the many brands under the FOCUS Brands umbrella to achieve the following benefits:


  • 20% estimated increase in team efficiency
    FMMs and corporate marketing teams can now make all requests directly to creative teams through Workfront, reducing emails and improving overall team efficiency and productivity. “Workfront is a massive improvement. Creative proofs and information are not lost in email chains or sitting on people’s desks. Everything is right there,” says George.
  • 30 fewer hours spent on creative audits annually
    The national promotion audit process that traditionally took 8 hours has been reduced to just 2 hours with Workfront automation. “Creative auditing is much less of a chore,” says George.
  • 5 hours saved in administrative time a week by nearly eliminating paper-based artwork routeing
    Manual “hard-routeing” processes that some days took up to 2 hours to complete have been almost entirely eliminated. “The biggest game changer for all of our teams has been the addition of digital proofing,” says George.
  • Lower paper and printing costs
    By significantly reducing paper-based approvals across all brands, one traffic manager estimates FOCUS Brands marketing teams have eliminated the printing of more than 25,000 pages of full-colour artwork annually.

“Workfront is the clear leader in delivering the capabilities marketers should have in a work management solution. One of the best things about Workfront is that it’s constantly being updated. Workfront is a living, breathing technology,” says George.


“Workfront is a massive improvement from what we had and we look forward to taking advantage of the new features like mobile that are continually introduced. I’m a champion of making workflow improvements through technology and both the Workfront community and the software are best in class,” concludes George.

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