Anthony Imgrund is a Project Manager at Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB), one of the biggest advertising agencies in the world. He’s been with the company for 13 years and is also the System Admin for Workfront, where he spends about 75% of this time managing the agency’s global instance of Workfront. He also works on FCB’s SharePoint 2013 environment and a custom tool for the New Business team.
Anthony lives in NYC, and loves theater and music. He recently presented on resource management in a Workfront Virtual User Group for creative agencies. Read on to see how this customer has found some unique ways to work around and with existing functionality in Workfront.
How FCB is using Workfront
FCB has one global instance of Workfront, which Anthony says makes his job easier. But they do have 16 different agencies and business units currently in the tool, so they rely heavily on Workfront’s group functionality to separate those business units out.
With groups, you can have group admins, custom statuses, and assign custom forms and schedules to each group. “So it just makes it very easy for us,” says Anthony. “It's great with Workfront because you can standardize a lot of things across the different agencies, but there's still flexibility and room for us to customize things to the unique way that each agency likes to work. Altogether, we’ve done about 20 implementations. At this point, I think I’ve tried everything within Workfront I think at least once!”
Here’s FCB’s Workfront usage shortlist:
Generate and route proofs
Monitor and report
Anthony and his team also use Workfront Proof (the integrated, not standalone, version). They don't do timesheets or billing in Workfront because they have a financial system of record (SAP) already in place. However, FCB does have a data warehouse that pulls information from SAP, as well as Workfront to mirror that data. That’s where FCB gets burn rate reports and plan vs. actuals. Then, they pull that data out of Workfront and house it outside the system via Microsoft’s suite of SQL Reporting Services.
“Which resource can work on a new project?”
FCB has been using Workfront since 2013, with Anthony and his colleagues taking ownership in 2014. Anthony says the question they got right away was, “which resource can work on a new project?”
Ideally, you want the same person working through a project so you don't have to spend time bringing them up to speed. It’s helpful to have one person see the project through from beginning to end.
“That’s the question that underscores our biggest issue with Workfront: the resourcing—but we solved it with fake people,” Anthony shares. “It’s exactly what it sounds like: we created users in the system that we use as the ‘unassigned’ placeholder, instead of using job roles (like Copywriter). We have a fake person that that's assigned to.”
As you read on and see the magic that Anthony has done, remember that while this is what works for FCB, each company and use case is very different, and using “fake people”in this way is not a best practice typically recommended by Workfront.
The details on setting up “fake people”
Here’s Anthony’s format:
First name is agency and basic job role
Last name is Person
Example: FCB Chicago Copywriter Person
Fake email address
Turn off all notifications
Give them primary job role, schedule, and resource pool but leave FTE to 0
Anthony uses “Person” as the last name person to let everybody know it’s a fake person, although you can easily add “Is this a fake person?” in a custom form and use that.
“And that's where you put the unassigned work. We use a fake email, but turn off all the notifications anyway,” Anthony says. “For those of you who are System Admins and see the setup area, there is a place for resource management, and you have two options: one of them is the default schedule and using the users’ FTE to decide their available hours; the other one is using that person's schedule.”
“For this to work, we needed to use that first one—the default schedule with the FTE—and we want to leave the FTE as zero. This does cause some problems in Europe and India. For instance, during the week of Thanksgiving, it appears their available hours drop. But the benefits we have of being able to use FTE to determine somebody's availability outweigh this drawback.”
How Anthony uses the resource planner
Anthony then took us through how he ingratiates ‘fake people’ into his team’s resource planner use: “If you have a lot of people in different time zones, countries or business units with different days off, this might not work so much for you. And the reason is the resource planner. I love this tool. This is great for long-term planning and I like two features about it: first, you can choose a week, month, or quarter. So, you can encompass a whole project, unless your projects are over a year long.”
“With the Chicago Art Director Person example above, I can see the allocated hours. Then, I can compare that to my team. What I like about the resource planner, too, is the bar chart that you see, which shows the whole team’s allocation. We don't want that fake person to be counted because that's really not 40 hours we have available to work.”
“We don't want that fake person messing up our team allocation. So now I can see that no matter how much I shift things around, I just do not have the people I need for this week. It's just not going to happen. Now I can talk to finance to maybe get a freelancer or ask another FCB agency to help out,” Anthony points out.
For Anthony, the resource planner helps him see the allocation and his unassigned hours because it's a person, so how they spread out across the duration of the whole project can be in a user report.
Stakeholders can meet, compare available hours and resources across a number of weeks, and assign projects according to each team member’s visualized availability. If they make a decision to swap out one person’s availability for another’s in a project, they simply click into the project and use the action tool to reassign hours—with the fake person’s hours standing in as needed.
Anticipating the workload balancer
The Workload Balancer is a new Workfront feature geared primarily towards individual workload management. The Product team has released several features in the last few releases and continues to heavily invest in it, making it a tool to check out. Drag-and-drop functionality is just one of the upcoming enhancements on the roadmap for the product
“The workload balancer is more for day-to-day, so in an ideal world everything would be assigned to someone already. However, I did include our fake person in this screenshot because a project might happen last minute,” Anthony says. “I can throw some tasks or one-offs to that fake person, so when Monday morning arrives, I can see, ‘Oh, I still haven’t assigned Client Share or Design for this project; I need somebody to work on that.’ Or it might cause stakeholders to create a meeting to take another look at the resource planner, and assign all unfinished tasks.”
Thanks so much to Anthony for sharing his awesome Workfront hacks and tips on resourcing!