The right tool in the right hands

How Josh Blackwood at ADP transformed his business with Adobe Workfront.

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Atlanta, Georgia
www.adp.com

240

Hours saved

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Objectives

Provide departments with consistently complex projects with a single, robust project management tool

Provide departments with consistently complex projects with a single, robust project management tool

Reduce the number of meetings and number of required attendees

Address ad hoc projects that weren't aligned to priorities 

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Results

Reduced the number of meetings by 50%, a savings of 240 hours

100% of major projects are aligned to strategic priorities 

Strategy comes first

For Josh Blackwood, being productive doesn’t just mean getting work done. It means getting the right work done — a difference that may sound small but can impact a business’ bottom line dramatically.

 

Blackwood is the Principal Technology Solutions Consultant for HRO (Human Resources Outsourcing) at ADP, one of four major departments at ADP that utilize Adobe Workfront.

 

And he’s also a self-described “fixer” (of both motorcycles and broken processes), so when Blackwood is going in for a repair, he makes it a priority to have the right tool in-hand.

 

Blackwood started out his career working in IT, and eventually grew to manage those teams. But along the way, he picked up an interest in project management and became PMP certified. A career switch like that may be daunting for some, but for Blackwood, it was exciting.

A one-stop tool for a one-stop shop

When Blackwood was first hired as a Project Manager at ADP, he was overseeing a highly visible and important project. Its ultimate success helped launch him into his current role, where he creates solutions for big — often complex — initiatives in HRO.

 

HRO encompasses all the outsourcing HR products on the ADP spectrum. For reference, their biggest is TotalSource, which is completely outsourced human capital management. Think: benefits, payroll, onboarding, etc.

 

Blackwood manages those products from soup to nuts, so he has to be excellent at balancing business needs across those products. He describes ADP’s portfolio as a one-stop shop for companies, so that they can focus on the things they’re good at, as opposed to having to worry about administrative functions.

 

With a mission like that, projects can be complicated and challenging.

 

Blackwood and his team realized they needed the right one-stop tool to manage their one-stop shop product line. That’s where Workfront came in.


“One of the biggest benefits is that meetings can now have a different focus. Instead of just sharing project statuses, we can use meetings to look at real issues cross- departmentally. That gives us more time to find real solutions.”

 
Josh Blackwood

Principal Technology Solutions Consultant, ADP


Finding one source of truth

Prior to Workfront, work was handled in an ad hoc fashion. That meant no consistent standards, methodology or tracking. The group also suffered from a lack of transparency and visibility into work that was happening throughout the business.

 

Blackwood describes Workfront as ADP's one source of the truth; the common place where people put everything that matters to the business. Everyone is working off of the same source of information and is speaking the same language, which amps up efficiency, focus, and prioritization.

 

Blackwood now uses Workfront to manage HRO’s projects and initiatives, from intake and prioritization to completion and reporting. It’s all done through Workfront. And both he and his team are seeing the results.

 

When Blackwood first started with ADP, his team was changing platforms for another initiative, which was a massive project. So, there were a lot of 3-hour meetings filled with up to 130 people. But Workfront helped them get to a more focused group of about 50 people during that project.

 

Because Workfront allows stakeholders to see project statuses in real time, Blackwood’s team doesn’t have to spend the amount of time they used to giving updates. Everything is current in the tool, so the right people started coming to the right meetings.

 

Ultimately, spending less time talking about the work has created more time to do the work that really matters.

 

“One of the biggest benefits is that meetings can now have a different focus,” says Blackwood. “Instead of just sharing project statuses, we can use meetings to look at real issues cross- departmentally. That gives us more time to find real solutions.”


“If you don’t define what success means at the beginning of a project, then a project never ends.”

 
Josh Blackwood

Principal Technology Solutions Consultant, ADP


Revamping KPI reporting and project prioritization with Workfront

Before Workfront, Blackwood recalls that there was a vague idea of how KPI reporting should be done, but no real process. Workfront helped ADP standardize their KPI reporting structure, so they can really understand what success means internally.

 

HRO takes information in through custom forms, which are built into the tool. Drop-down menus present easily selectable KPIs to measure, such as revenue growth. The tool also gives a detailed, in-the-weeds look at changes to KPI initiatives, so managers can fairly assess goals.

 

And this visibility has helped reduce costs, too.

 

For example, HRO sends out paper kits to ADP clients’ employees. Previously, they’d send them in multiple phases. But through Workfront, Blackwood’s team can prioritize the sending of the kits, meaning the right amount of kits are sent — and less money is spent on the paper and the mailing costs.

 

So, not only is KPI reporting now more structured and transparent; the KPIs themselves are more attainable with the ultra-clarity that Workfront provides.

 

Workfront has also helped HRO tie project results back to bigger goals that matter to the business, making it easier to prioritize projects.

“If you don’t define what success means at the beginning of a project, then it never ends,” Blackwood says.

 

If every completed project is like a ripple in HRO’s success, then Workfront helps Blackwood see just how far that ripple extends to the larger business.

 

They use Workfront to set up projects, define what success is, and then analyze performance as it relates to overarching strategic initiatives.

All of this aids transparency, so that work done well is appreciated for its full effect and areas of improvement are clearer than before.

Empowering internal teams with a strategy-first approach

Blackwood says that people appreciate having a common way to do their different jobs. Project intake and requests have become easier. And, unique processes for different departments have become standardized through Workfront, which is a positive internal change.

 

Smart UI helps, too.

 

“The look and feel of the user interface helped drive adoption, which increases product use and therefore visibility. It’s not heavy and intimidating. You don’t need a computer science degree to run a project in Workfront. You can run a basic project plan with limited knowledge,” Blackwood states.

 

Strategy is too often limited by the tools that make it tangible. Workfront has changed that for Blackwood and his team.

 

When the business focus changes at ADP, it’s easy to see just how flexible Workfront is. They can easily update previous paradigms within the tool to refit their changing organizational needs.

Final thoughts

At ADP, Blackwood evolved his role from managing one large operational project to becoming an architect and strategic thinker for HRO overall. And Workfront helped, because he was able to focus — both himself and his team — on the right work by explicitly tying it back to the business’ strategic goals.

 

As a “fixer”, Blackwood has been able to make more data-driven decisions at a higher velocity, which has helped increase revenue.

 

At the end of the day, the hands holding a tool do the work — not the tool. The very best result comes when you have a world-class tool in capable hands. And that’s exactly how Blackwood approached streamlining his business and moving the revenue needle: with Workfront as the right tool.

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