D’Addario is a family owned business with over 1,100 worldwide employees. They are the world’s largest manufacturer of musical instrument accessories including, but not limited to, strings, reeds, drumheads, drumsticks, guitar, and woodwind accessories. D’Addario products are distributed in over 120 countries.
With over 45 years of designing and manufacturing musical instrument accessories, some of which are patented in the U.S. and abroad, D’Addario has consistently grown its revenue by 2 to 3% year-over-year because of the commitment to customer needs and investment in the equipment and machinery used to make its products.
Jennifer Verdi-Cohen, Director of Project Management at D’Addario, spoke about how the company uses Teamwork to manage capital expenditure investments, research and development efforts, digital initiatives, product launches and trade shows.
D’Addario has utilized lean manufacturing processes to optimize the company’s supply chain and new product development processes. The incorporation of lean manufacturing into these and other activities has been wildly successful in that it has improved efficiencies across the organization.
Before introducing lean, the company occasionally suffered long lead times, lost sales opportunities, a buildup of excess inventory, high scrap rates and produced product components at the wrong time. After implementing lean, D’Addario successfully freed up over 70,000 square feet of manufacturing and distribution space. They also have improved customer service and order fulfillment, and along with reduced costs, were able to create more jobs. Finally, work processes were also reduced, in certain instances, from 4 months to three hours.
Notwithstanding these successes, one area where D’Addario struggled to improve concerned project management. In light of the successes described above, D’Addario was committed to bringing best-in-class processes to their project management function.
One of the reasons for D’Addario’s project management struggles was attributable to each person maintaining their own lean board. As a result, all aspects of one project were spread out across multiple people’s boards and, accordingly, there was not a single view of project deliverables, timelines and progress.
“Getting a status update was really time consuming,” said Jennifer. “The boards didn’t have a central location or a report function to check for one project, so we had to look at each board individually to find out what progress we were making.”
After spending all of that time on analysis, Jennifer and her team often discovered that the conclusions they drew were not even accurate. “We were looking in a million places for information and it was easy to overlook a detail in the midst of all of that information,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer knew there had to be a better project management solution that allowed her division to have more transparency over their projects and give everyone on the team a single point of reference for updates.
After reviewing a number of options, Jennifer and her team decided to go with Teamwork because it offered them the flexibility and growth that an innovation-driven company like D’Addario needed.
While finding the right tool was a huge piece of the puzzle, Jennifer knew that the right software is only as good as the people using it. In other words, a lot was riding on how it was adopted and rolled out across various teams and users.
“We really prioritized getting buy-in from everyone,” Jennifer told us. “So we had to communicate its importance from the top down. We also made sure to provide customized training to show how it really can make life easier for our staff.”
"We made it known that it was the place for work to get planned, discussed, and managed — i.e., if your stuff wasn’t in Teamwork, it didn’t count."
Jennifer relied on the Teamwork 24/7 support team for help when she needed it but having personalized, specific onboarding from their Customer Success Manager was integral to the success of the deployment. “Adrian single-handedly provided the most outstanding customer service I’ve ever experienced with any product, personally or professionally,” Jennifer said. “No matter what time I emailed him with any question, he got back to me within the hour. He was always approachable and never made me feel like I should know the information already.” Once the team was up and running with Teamwork, everyone was hooked. Daily email reports let them know exactly what they needed to work on each day and it was easy to check in for a status update anytime or see how their tasks contributed to the project as a whole. “Getting that visibility and transparency into people’s day was huge. Team members were collaborating much more smoothly, and tasks were being completed more quickly,” said Jennifer. Jennifer’s team at D’Addario now uses Teamwork for all of their planning. New products move through each development stage, from alpha, beta, design, marketing and launch. Progress can be carefully tracked to make adjustments at each stage depending on change requests or other factors. Teamwork also allowed D’Addario to leverage one of the key elements of lean, which is standardized work, by introducing templates to their work flow.
Prior to Teamwork, each internal brand launched projects in their own way, but now D’Addario has a product development launch process (PDLP) standardized across all teams, which makes for much more efficient work.
Jennifer’s team chose Teamwork because they wanted more transparency and visibility. Now, they’re seeing the benefits of having a deeper perspective on their performance and more time to focus on each project.
Not only are teams meeting their deadlines more regularly, they’re also getting insight into why and when deadlines slip. “Now we can see what’s impacting our projects, whether that’s bottlenecks, resource distribution, scope creep or bandwidth challenges. Since we’re tracking everything, we can usually pinpoint those problems on the fly and make adjustments before a deadline slips,” said Jennifer.
Learning how to use the risk register feature has been key in identifying potential problems. As a project is being built, team members can identify different variables that could impact the project and how those impacts would be felt. Instead of having to monitor task progress or drift manually, one report gives a clear, accurate picture.
“Before we started using Teamwork, it always felt like we were chasing details and making educated guesses,” said Jennifer. “Now we’re able to analyze real-time data and have healthier, on-time project deliveries. That makes everyone more successful.”
"Now we’re able to analyze real-time data and have healthier, on-time project deliveries. That makes everyone more successful."