FCB Global improves agency network’s operational efficiency using Adobe Workfront.
Teams across more than a dozen business units maximise utilisation while eliminating thousands of hours of administrative time annually.
Reduce employees time spent in weekly update meetings
Improve process for resource utilisation in multiple offices
Reduce time and manual processes associated with creating HotSheets
Increased productivity and is saving an estimated 1,000 hours of billable time
Improved project estimate accuracy
Expanded project visibility to 100%
Reduced time spent in weekly meetings and preparing status updates by approximately two hours for some team members
Improved operational efficiency
Only a handful of marketing agencies can boast more than 100 years of successful client campaigns. FCB (Foote, Cone & Belding) has been changing popular culture since 1873, launching award-winning advertising and marketing programmes for brand-name clients across industries. FCB deployed Adobe Workfront** globally to standardise and streamline agency processes and enable employees across its worldwide network to focus more on client work and less on non-value-add administrative tasks. Now FCB teams across 13 business units are using the cloud-based Workfront work management solution to gain project visibility and eliminate manual processes, increasing staff productivity and billable hours.
“It helps tremendously to have all projects in Workfront because we can now truly begin to cross collaborate.”
Vice President and Director, Strategic Operations PMO, FCB
FCB is an award-winning, global, fully integrated marketing communications company with a heritage of creativity and success. Based on a deeply developed understanding of diversified local markets and global cultures, FCB focuses on significantly changing consumer behaviour to the benefit of its clients, its people and society. With more than 8,000 people in 109 operations in 80 countries, the company is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies.
As work across the FCB network became increasingly project based, the agency needed an efficient and centralised solution to ensure everyone was aware of what work was due and when.
FCB teams tracked tasks and projects in several different tools, including Basecamp, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. Individuals manually updated status reports and everyone relied heavily on email to communicate. For example, one office emailed employees a daily HotSheet to ensure every team understood the status of the agency’s digital and print projects, yet some team members still remained out of the loop, at times causing a scramble for resources.
“We had a difficult time ensuring that our engineering and operations group had a clear view into all upcoming site launches and major file releases,” remembers EVP and Chief Product Officer of FCB Health, Graham Johnson. “Those teams would often get caught off-guard and without proper planning, we may not have the appropriate time or resources.”
Consistent communication and reporting were also challenges. FCB team members managed spreadsheets tracking breakdowns of resource availability and sent these once or twice daily via email between offices and departments. This process, which took more than 20 hours every week, reduced billable staff hours.
Moreover, different clients had distinct ways of tracking tasks and each manual report took staff members a few hours to complete. Although FCB tracked hours worked on projects, the data was pulled exclusively from the agency’s financial system, which only tracked actual and client approved hours.
“There was no automated mapping of actual time spent against planned project hours, which hindered our ability to negotiate for more hours or course-correct potential issues before client work started,” says Katherine Haven, vice president and director of the strategic operations Project Management Office (PMO) for FCB.
Opportunities to develop more efficient operations as work became more project focused globally had FCB seeking a single platform for project planning, task assignment and resource management.
“Workfront is unbelievable. The more people using the system, the better it becomes.”
EVP, Chief Product Officer, FCB Health
The Workfront solution
Although Workfront is an intuitive, user-friendly solution, FCB believed the best way to promote standardisation and the best-practices sharing of successes and lessons learnt across offices was to train two dedicated system administrators to oversee the on-boarding of its network agencies into the work management solution, as well as the on-going maintenance of FCB’s global instance. These resources collaborate with new teams transitioning to Workfront to address unique workflows and quickly ensure success.
The administrators begin by identifying super users in each agency who can work with them to understand existing project structures and processes, such as portfolios, change orders, resourcing, tracking and reporting. The administrators then offer best-practices advice about how to automate and optimise business-critical processes in Workfront.
“We have every type of role in Workfront — from human resources and finance staff to developers, quality assurance (QA), user experience and design professionals,” explains Haven. “Our client-focused staff doesn’t have time to stay on top of new features and functionality, which is why the administrator model works well for us. We are available any time to share our knowledge about Workfront and best practices that can help our users be more productive.”
Centralised communications and collaboration in Workfront enable FCB teams to work smarter together. For example, two offices supporting one global consumer products client are increasing efficiency by sharing campaign details in Workfront. Additionally, two different FCB business units are able to secure and share data through the solution.
Because of the confidential and competitive nature of the agency’s businesses, the system administrators use the group functionality in Workfront to ensure each client’s data remains segregated in the instance.
“It helps tremendously to have all projects in Workfront because we can now truly begin to cross collaborate,” says Haven.
“Workfront is unbelievable. The more people using the system, the better it becomes and we use permissions to segment views, preventing issues with conflicting brands,” adds FCB Health’s Johnson.
Project templates, request queues and customised forms
To optimise processes, FCB Health uses request queues and standard project plan templates for all digital and print projects. These plans are not only developed, but also updated in Workfront. Request queues in Workfront move processes out of email and into a traceable solution while templates streamline repetitive tasks by mapping every necessary step in a workflow. With all of the steps outlined in advance, team members spend less time planning and more time creating impactful campaigns. Most important, the template ensures that no steps are missed along the way.
“Producers build their timelines in Workfront and we've mandated that everyone use a pre-existing launch module when creating their plans,” explains Johnson. “Our launch module contains all of the requisite tasks, resources and timing and automatically populates a launch calendar that provides full transparency to the whole team. We created the module and rolled it out to the department in a week.”
FCB Health also created a ticketing system using Workfront customised forms to funnel submissions, as well as to track and validate them. Ticket-system reporting is completed entirely within Workfront as is QA bug tracking for digital projects. Since deploying Workfront, the QA team has decommissioned a JIRA server it used previously.
“Workfront doesn’t just help us to streamline back-office processes, it lets us positively impact client work.”
Vice President and Director, Strategic Operations PMO, FCB
Financial performance tracking
By integrating Workfront with its SAP financial system, FCB has streamlined its project estimation process. The solution incorporates earned value calculations to compare three sets of data — estimated and actual hours from SAP as well as planned project hours from Workfront. The solution automatically generates accurate burn reports comparing actual hours and fees against estimated and planned hours and fees.
“Better data gives client teams a more accurate idea of where they are and how they are progressing,” says Haven. “With real-time resourcing data, client managers will also be able to create more accurate estimates going forward.”
Customised dashboards and reporting
Workfront dashboards and reporting capabilities also help FCB teams save time and maximise utilisation. For example, one new dashboard created in Workfront enables the FCB Health QA resource manager to instantly see when and where her shared services team members are under or over utilised. Another recently created dashboard enables project and resource managers to obtain coverage when a team member expects to be out of the office, ensuring FCB meets client deadlines.
Now that FCB Health uses Workfront to forecast resource availability, “we no longer manage shared spreadsheets or send daily breakdowns via email between offices,” says Johnson. “It’s also lessened the need for time-consuming meetings.”
Within the work management solution, agency managers can see which projects are on schedule and which still need to have project numbers assigned. When it comes to department-wide tasks — such as completing a survey — FCB encourages managers to assign them to employees through My Work pages in Workfront rather than emailing or instant messaging them.
Through the automated workflow, users can mark each task as complete which gives the agency a real-time dashboard of progress. Standardised status sheets also are automated through the work management solution, quickly giving team members accurate, up to date details about every project. The copy dashboard feature is a system administrator favourite because it enables anyone to easily modify parameters and run a similar, yet different, report in seconds. FCB’s Workfront administrators produce all customised project reports without complex programming or additional tools.
“Workfront doesn’t just help us to streamline back-office processes, it lets us positively impact client work,” says Haven.
“Workfront eliminates shared spreadsheets and the sending of daily breakdowns of resource availability via email which was taking multiple offices about 20 hours per week or 1,000 hours annually.”
EVP, Chief Product Officer, FCB Health
In North America and Europe, FCB teams across 13 business units are using Workfront to achieve the following benefits:
- Increase productivity and billable hours By using Workfront to optimise and automate manual processes, such as resource planning, FCB can reduce time spent on administrative tasks and increase time spent on client work. The solution helps FCB Health maximise utilisation. “Workfront eliminates shared spreadsheets and the sending of daily breakdowns of resource availability via email which was taking multiple offices about 20 hours per week or 1,000 hours annually," estimates Johnson.
- Improve project estimate accuracy The integration of Workfront with the agency’s SAP financial system enables FCB to produce more accurate burn reports. In addition to providing key information for earn reports, Workfront helps project managers estimate more accurately and more quickly by leveraging pre-defined templates and historical project information.
- Expand project visibility Although core team members — such as project managers, copy managers, art directors and others — always had visibility into current and up-coming client deliverables, Workfront ensures complete transparency for additional team members including speciality groups such as analysts, proof readers and print studio staff. “After we rolled out Workfront to our HackerAgency, which focuses on global direct marketing, team members who typically received work requests with little notice were so happy because for the first time, they had a heads up about work coming in and that allowed them to start planning their days better,” says Haven.
- Reduce time spent in meetings and preparing HotSheets By some estimates, team members were spending up to two hours a week in meetings — 30 minutes in resourcing, 30 minutes in account status and one hour in department status meetings. Now that project tasks are kept up to date in Workfront, FCB team members can be more productive. HotSheets are also now automatically generated by Workfront, reducing the time spent manually preparing updates about what is due today and tomorrow and enabling teams to focus on projects that have issues or are late. Haven says, “In FCB Chicago, for example, employees with projects tracking on time aren’t required to attend status meetings. That helps to ensure status meeting time stays focused on the projects that need attention.”
- Improve operational efficiency The roll-out of Workfront has enabled FCB to become more operationally efficient across business units and client teams. According to Imgrund, as we work together with internal leaders to solve their most immediate challenges — for example, automating daily HotSheets — they begin to see how the work management solution can help them to evolve and mature other processes.
FCB is evaluating the Workfront online proofing capability to streamline review and approval processes for creative assets. Digital proofing changes challenging workflows into an on-demand solution that can be accessed by all team members at their convenience on any device. By eliminating its current tool and leveraging Workfront as a single solution and log in for this critical project functionality, FCB expects to save $60,000 a year.