Building resilience in the new normal.

Penn State World Campus focuses on student success through data-driven decision making.

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University Park, Pennsylvania
worldcampus.psu.edu

Empowers employees and drives collaboration

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Objectives

Breakdown interdepartmental silos and align shared goals across the organization

Establish true business agility with clear prioritization capabilities as resources change

Gain transparency into how work at all levels aligns with business strategy

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Results

Empowers employees by aligning to a shared set of organizational goals

Drives more collaboration and engagement, helping prioritize and navigate work

Improves culture — more clarity on goals means more time focused on the right work

Founded in 1855, Penn State University (PSU) has a broad mission of teaching, research, and service. Penn State’s World Campus — established in 1998 to extend world-acclaimed PSU education to students via online learning — is core to PSU’s place as a leader in higher education, with over 20,000 students studying exclusively online.

 

In the face of growing demand for more online education and an increasingly competitive marketplace for virtual higher education learning, World Campus leaders put strategic focus on becoming more efficient to scale and improve the quality of the educational experience.

“There’s been incredible growth in the online higher education space, as well as a significant increase in the number of institutions with online offerings. To continue to lead in this space, we knew we were going to need to focus more, become more efficient, more effective, and more aligned moving forward,” says Jen Krempa, Executive Director of Strategic Planning and Administration at World Campus.


“As the world continues to change, we’re constantly making small and large adjustments to our plans. Workfront will enable us to make smart, responsive decisions more quickly and easily.”

 
Jen Krempa

Executive Director of Strategic Planning and Administration, Penn State World Campus


Breaking down silos with cross-functional processes

Four years ago, World Campus embarked on an organizational excellence transformation of its online campus, starting with aligning on shared goals for the organization. Jen Krempa spearheaded this effort.

 

Until then, planning, goal setting, and work management for the online campus happened in silos within business units — there was no shared prioritization across projects and limited visibility into overall work and progress. World Campus’ ability to grow and bring meaningful impact to its students was limited by its lack of alignment, shared process, and consistent terminology.

 

Krempa knew World Campus needed to change how work got done. Krempa and the leadership team focused on a cross-functional approach to building organizational capabilities around identifying key outcomes and then executing to achieve them: portfolio management and development, organizing projects by shared strategic objectives, and identifying shared goals. Now teams are empowered to contribute in a new, more impactful way.

 

Krempa says: “We had to shift from an activity mindset and instead focus on an outcome mindset. We started with, ‘here are the outcomes we’re trying to reach, and we need our teams and individuals to connect their roles back to those outcomes.’”

 

Krempa and her team’s work primed World Campus for resilience when the pandemic hit. World Campus’ resilience is evidenced by its ability to connect data and work processes across the organization and deliver projects with increasing predictability.

Driving sophistication in proactive planning

“People want to know they’re making a difference, that they’re contributing in a way that’s valuable. We needed to have the systems and processes in place to support our teams and to structure work around outcomes,” says Krempa.

 

The World Campus team is identifying objectives and high-impact actions and making data-driven decisions that identify barriers, mitigate risk, and deliver impactful projects on time. By using Adobe Workfront, the team can iteratively adjust plans in response to shifting business needs and move forward with the right delivery strategy.

 

Kate Tornatore, Director of Strategic Execution and CRM Program Manager at Penn State World Campus, partners with Krempa to roll out strategic changes. She says: “Because we now have a shared prioritization of our work, we’re able to execute more efficiently. For example, if we have a limited skillset in the organization, we’re able to align that skillset with the higher priority projects first. We’re coordinated and making informed decisions.”

 

Workfront will give visible fluidity and flexibility to those priorities when they inevitably change, so World Campus can continuously plan multiple what-if scenarios collaboratively and quickly evaluate trade-offs across timelines and resource allocations.

 

“As the world continues to change, we’re constantly making small and large adjustments to our plans,” adds Krempa. “Workfront will enable us to make smart, responsive decisions more quickly and easily.”


“With the potential of Workfront Goals and Scenario Planner for World Campus, it seems like the timing is just perfect for the roadmap work that we’re doing, the goal setting that we’re doing for the organization, and the scenarios for those strategic roadmaps. It’s exciting to think about how we can bring all of these together to support what we want to do for World Campus.”

 
Kate Tornatore

Director of Strategic Execution and CRM Program Manager, Penn State World Campus


Aligning work to strategy

Like most teams, it’s become essential for World Campus to mobilize and empower existing resources by prioritizing projects that directly impact objectives — especially since the massive transition to remote work hit the globe in lockstep with the pandemic.

 

“Strategy can’t be separate from execution, and it needs to be a continually evolving, reinforcing framework. We can now translate those higher-level goals into actions on a day-to-day basis. These technologies are going to be incredibly powerful to help us do this even better moving forward,” says Krempa.

 

 For World Campus, this is a moment to accelerate their Workfront adoption, particularly its use of Workfront Goals and Workfront Scenario Planner. Tornatore describes this moment as one of opportunity for the team: “It’s such a wonderful time. With the potential of Workfront Goals and Scenario Planner for World Campus, it seems like the timing is just perfect for the roadmap work that we’re doing, the goal setting that we’re doing for the organization, and the scenarios for those strategic roadmaps. It’s exciting to think about how we can bring all of these together to support what we want to do for World Campus.”


“So often, the strategy of an organization and execution of an organization have been divorced, and it’s transformative to bring them together so that they are able to be done in parallel. With Workfront Goals and Workfront Scenario Planner, teams can literally see in the same system how these things connect to each other.”

 
Jen Krempa

Executive Director of Strategic Planning and Administration, Penn State World Campus


The result

Since World Campus adopted Workfront:

 

  • Retention is up two percentage points and its efficiency ratio is trending down two percentage points
  • There have been year-over-year increases in scholarship and financial support provided to students
  • Conversion is up three percentage points (matriculation after accepting an offer of admission)

 

Krempa and Tornatore of Penn State World Campus have been able to work within their already developed framework to capitalize on being ahead of the game and drive internal adoption of the Workfront applications to help them further operationalize success.

 

“So often, the strategy of an organization and execution of an organization have been divorced, and it’s transformative to bring them together so that they are able to be done in parallel,” says Krempa. “With Workfront Goals and Workfront Scenario Planner, teams can literally see in the same system how these things connect to each other.”

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