The Michael G. Foster School of Business at the University of Washington is located in Seattle (USA). It consistently ranks among the top business schools in the United States–for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. The Foster School serves more than 2,500 students, has more than 50,000 alumni, and has access to leaders at local iconic companies such as Microsoft, Amazon.com, Boeing, and Starbucks.
LA Smith, director of online marketing, found that Teamwork Projects gave her team a better system for managing multiple projects with assorted deadlines while keeping track of individual workloads and workflows.

“Teamwork Projects has been the single best software investment our team has made over the years. Our team is more organized and more productive because we have an easy and cohesive way to do our work, track our progress, and stay informed.”

The Challenges

The online marketing team at the Foster School of Business was struggling with their own success. There was a large demand for their services, which created a complex flow of incoming and ongoing projects.
Keeping up with all of the competing deadlines, materials and files, task assignments, was an ongoing battle because they had no way of getting a clear overview of the priorities for their daily workloads. The result was too many missed deadlines or opportunities. In some cases, they couldn’t get work completed on time, and in others, two or more team members discovered too late that they had been working independently on a project when they could have been collaborating.

“We had no real visibility into all the projects that individuals were working on, and the pressure of competing deadlines often left our team spread too thin. We needed better tools to help us manage tasks effectively.”

Project transparency was a problem within the online marketing team, which also impacted communication with their clients. They were unable to outline workflow proposals before a project began, or give clients a good sense of each project’s status once work was underway. To top it all off, they were also completely dependent on email for communication, resulting in an overload of messages that were difficult to search when they needed to recall crucial information.
For their team, an ideal project management solution would give them the ability to plan workflows, track and visualize projects, keep all materials and communication in one place, give them simple and accurate reporting tools, and reopen or duplicate archived projects as needed.
The online marketing team developed this formidable must-have list, and then started investigating whether the leading project management software available had the capability to check all of the boxes. They started with Microsoft’s SharePoint, but soon ran into problems.

“We attempted to record and track projects, plus get status reports, but we had so many projects to manage simultaneously. We found out fairly quickly that it didn’t really offer us a good way to visualize and prioritize the entire portfolio of our work.”

The Solution

They went back to the drawing board, searching for complete project management solutions with three main criteria: ease of use, online assistance and customer support, and an affordable price structure. Basecamp and Teamwork Projects made the cut, and after some preliminary testing, they found that they were spending too much time updating projects in Basecamp for the software to be truly useful.
Once Teamwork Projects selected, they moved to the next challenge: rapidly onboarding all 12 team members. Having so many people to train was daunting, but the team approached the opportunity with style. They turned the process into a project in Teamwork Projects!
The team broke their training into tasks and subtasks, created their own trainings based on online webinars by Teamwork.com and customer support suggestions, and added links to all of the training materials they needed. During team meetings and working lunch sessions, they stepped their way through the features and functions as a team. Soon they were successfully navigating the software — and their own tasks in Teamwork Projects.

“We were able to get up to speed quickly because Teamwork.com offers some of the best and most comprehensive DIY help and effective customer service I have ever encountered. Not many vendors are as thorough or responsive.”

Today, the team is still committed to Teamwork Projects because it gives them a single place to house all project data and communications, and it provides an excellent overview of all the work their team is undertaking.

“The project chart view is one of my favorite features. It gives me a fast overview of where we stand on all the projects my team is working on in a given time period.”

The chart view is always accurate because team members can quickly update project tasks each day to share information, comments, issues and approvals so the entire team knows exactly what’s happening at any moment. They also have a comprehensive calendar of projects and tools for allocating work assignments that makes all the their projects run more smoothly.
The system is so complete and was adopted so rapidly by the entire team that the Foster School didn’t hesitate to start adding clients as users on projects, eliminating the need for half a dozen tools to manage collaboration. Now everyone can exchange information smoothly with fewer surprises and miscommunications.

“Teamwork Projects is easy to use, almost intuitive, and yet powerful enough to handle our large portfolio of projects. The fact that clients and people outside our organization can participate in discussions using just their email was a huge benefit because we didn’t have to overcome any barriers to entry or provide special training on their part.”

The Benefits

Since implementing Teamwork Projects, the online marketing team has a much better sense of which projects to prioritize for on-time delivery, which means they have fewer last-minute rush sessions to put together the final details on a projects. As a result, the team is dramatically improved for delivering quality work that’s on time and on budget.
Each day the team is able to function more smoothly and with more purpose. Time previously spent trying to determine the current status of a project is now spent identifying way opportunities to combine efforts on projects and produce more cohesive marketing projects.

“In so many ways, our team is able to function at a much higher level, thinking and acting more strategically because they aren’t always caught in the weeds of day-to-day project management.”

On a personal level, LA is able to manage much more effectively using Teamwork Projects. With task lists, comment threads, and calendars that are easily accessed by all team members, she’s spending less time giving team members individualized instructions or tracking down people to give her updates. She’s also answering fewer email and phone requests for project status reports or clarification, which means fewer distractions when crucial work needs to be completed.  

“Choosing Teamwork Projects was absolutely one of the best decisions we have made because it has helped make our work more organized and cohesive. As a marketing and communications team, we now have time and opportunities to focus on strategy and moving our institution forward.”