Illumina Interactive is a development firm that provides custom technology-based e-learning solutions that transform their clients’ educational challenges and training needs. Their client list includes industry giants such as Dunkin’ Brands, Prestone, Nestlé, Biogen, Williams-Sonoma, State Street Bank, Dassault Systemes 3DS/SolidWorks, Boston Scientific, and more.
We spoke with Jean Marrapodi, Senior Learning Architect, and Michael Getz, President at Illumina Interactive, to understand how their team uses Teamwork to effectively manage customized e-learning solutions for their clients.
Several years ago, the team realized that while they were continuing to build the business, they needed a more effective company-wide project management solution. Project managers were using disparate tools and documents to track project assets, schedules and deadlines, and a variety of means of exchanging files with clients, but doing it all without a single app that could coordinate all of the moving parts of their projects.
Each project team was wasting time organizing documents in different locations, creating and updating task lists, and keeping track of milestones and progress. “We didn’t have a single location for all of our project documentation or collateral,” said Michael. “Even though we had dedicated servers, an intranet and extranet, files were being stored in multiple locations and folders, and each project manager had their own special filing system. It worked, but we were spending far too much time every day looking for materials that we needed.”
Collaboration and communication with clients needed improvement, too. Using email and the shared file server to keep files and messages organized was getting the job done, but often resulted in overlapping versions, emails getting buried in inboxes, and problems when large files needed to be uploaded for client review.
"We needed a better way to move our projects forward. There were too many materials and messages that were difficult to track, and we needed a more effective and efficient way for everyone to communicate."
During the search for an all-in-one solution, Illumina Interactive reviewed several software options, but decided to take a deeper look at Teamwork after another industry professional suggested it. Jean quickly recognized Teamwork Project’s capabilities and became a champion for it within the company.
Teamwork offered multiple features to simplify their workloads, but Jean had to ensure the whole team was on board before making the switch. “Our project managers used Microsoft Project and Excel for project schedules that they shared with the entire team. Some of them really didn’t want to let go of that software,” she said.
Initially, some team members were only comfortable using Teamwork for file sharing — until new employees with experience using project management software showed them the ropes and they experienced first-hand how simple it could be to set up milestones and task lists within Teamwork. “They understood how Teamwork was meant to be used and became product evangelists for the rest of the team,” said Jean.
The game-changer was the ability to attach documents to specific tasks. Instead of chasing file versions in their email inboxes, anyone who needs to can simply find the individual task — and the updated file is right there.
Editing has also gotten easier with the help of the Microsoft Office integration. Team members and clients can make all of their changes without switching to another platform to save or transfer files, which saves hours of time each week.
"We love being able to work on documents right in Teamwork without contending with downloading and uploading. It has simplified the way we share files and feedback with customers". On one example project, the team used all of these features in combination with Board View just as they were building out a series of microlearning modules. Each piece in this project needed to be reviewed by certain stakeholders and then passed along to the next phase of assessment, so they set it up board view with four columns: To be reviewed, Review, Reviewed, and Approved. Each task was assigned to a specific team member, who placed an item into the Review column. After each stakeholder put their eyes on the document and made changes, they moved it to the next column. Triggers built into Teamwork automatically notified the next person that it was their turn to review the document, so team members didn’t have to remind other project members to take over.
Since the switch to Teamwork, Illumina Interactive has been able to complete more work, improve turnaround times, and stay in command of the details in each project. “If I had to describe the greatest contribution Teamwork has made to our company, I’d say it’s efficiency,” said Michael. Even without setting specific goals or incentives, the entire team has seen huge productivity gains because they’re no longer spending time hunting for files, trying to determine priorities, or figuring out which version of a document is the most current.
Clients are extremely happy with the results as well. Now that every stage of each project is more transparent, from individual responsibilities to milestones, they have a better sense of progress toward major and minor deadlines. No one is wondering what tasks need to be done next or if a detail has fallen through the cracks.
"We can’t imagine going back to the chaos of email and spreadsheets as our tools for managing everything. Now that we know how much better life is with Teamwork, our standards are much higher for project organization and workflows. The software has completely changed the way we operate — for the better."