Times change. People change. Processes change. And we must change with them. Nearly every customer that has used Workfront for more than two years realizes that what they implemented initially doesn’t match how they do things today; that what their leadership wanted years ago doesn’t align with what leadership wants today; and that the tidy, easy-to-manage system they once had has become overgrown with thousands of outdated and unused templates, reports, request queues and custom fields.
In the spring of 2019, Workfront was no different. As a company, we are our oldest customer. We’ve used our work management software longer than any organization in the world. And we developed some bad habits along the way.
For nearly two decades, our instance of Workfront has been the sandbox and test kitchen for hundreds of product managers, engineers, consultants and system administrators. Every one of our 1000+ employees had a plan license, giving them unfettered freedom to create as many real and “test” projects, templates, custom forms, reports and dashboards as they liked. Our own production instance of Workfront became so unwieldy, some people stopped using it. And for a software company built on helping people do their best work, that was a real problem.
And so we launched an initiative called Done Right at Workfront (DR@WF) and its first focus was a major, well, a massive Workfront cleanup. We knew that if we were going to provide best practices on Modern Work, we needed to get our own environment in order before we started guiding our customers and partners to do the same. And by summer 2019, with a focused, collaborative effort, here were some of the results:
27 system administrators to 5
75,432 active users to 7,814
105 home groups to 10
68,108 active project to 7,862
20% job roles assigned to 100%
10% layout template assignment to 100%
137 request queues to 21
These wins represent only a small portion of what was accomplished with the deep clean and what we plan to do. So how did we do it? Here are some of the best Workfront cleanup practices and lessons learned along the way.
Start by establishing a governance committee - Modern_Work_Governance.pdf. Your governance committee should be comprised of 2-3 system administrators and 4-7 group administrators which provide departmental business perspective, assist with establishing naming conventions, while also being responsible for cleaning up the items that belong to their group. The first lesson we learned was – if you want the cleanup effort to be a success, don’t do it alone!
Once the governance committee is in place, start to lock down access levels. Minimize the ability for plan licenses to create or edit portfolios, programs and custom forms. These should be driven by and advised by group administrators.
Assign the Workfront cleanup project template and customize it to each of the departments and group administrators. This is the one we used in our efforts.
As you can see, we strongly recommend you start with user management. It makes everything that follows that much easier. And remember, a best practice is to always deactivate, not delete, a user in order to preserve any information associated with that user.
As your efforts get underway, let the entire organization know what you’re doing. Let them know that you’ve created a governance board, who is on the board, that your initial focus will be a cleanup effort and what the outcome and the benefit of the cleanup effort will be. Give them periodic updates on your progress and solicit their feedback about your Workfront instance.
One of the key tenets of our organizational change is to measure the impact of our efforts. For this program, we wanted to understand how our employees' user experience would improve just through a clean up effort. To measure it, we conducted a pre-cleanup baseline using the following questions (we call our instance of Workfront - Hub):
What department are you in?
Based on your experience in Hub, how likely are you to recommend Workfront to a colleague or friend?
What do you find most frustrating about Hub?
What's working for you in Hub, and why?
How could Hub be improved to help you do your best work?
How often do you use Hub?
What percentage of your work is managed in Hub?
Which principle from the book Done Right by Alex Shootman has most helped you get your work done?
How have you put the principle into practice?
May we contact you about your ideas and recommendations?
The second question in the survey determines a Net Promoter Score. Based on the results, you can calculate an NPS score for your Workfront instance using this calculator (https://delighted.com/nps-calculator). The goal is to improve it over time, based on responding to the comments you receive.
Create two-week sprints with specific cleanup assignments for the group administrators. Review your progress with a dashboard in a bi-weekly or monthly meeting and discuss any issues or roadblocks your team is experiencing. The primary system administrator should act as the project manager and supporting resource.
Check out the configuration details of our Workfront Cleanup dashboard reports below.
As you consider some of the global settings and statuses, utilize some of the newer functionality like subgroups, e.g. marketing subgroup, creative services subgroup, etc. You can delete global settings and statuses that were group specific and add them at the group level.
Create a request queue to funnel all future Workfront-related ideas, concerns and issues. Route the requests to the governance committee and establish protocols for how to manage and make decisions on them. We created reports to easily view and work through all the requests we receive. Announce the request queue to your organization and let them know it is the best way for you to track and respond to their ideas and issues.
An important part of good hygiene in Workfront is managing, reassigning or deleting work that is owned by employees who are leaving the organization. A gap in this process will result in dozens to hundreds of projects, documents, templates, reports, issues and tasks that are orphaned in the environment, left uncompleted and creating an inaccurate view of the work taking place in the organization. This departing employee dashboard ensures you cleanup or reassign the various items attached and assigned to departing employees week by week, month by month.
Check out the configuration details of our departing employee dashboard reports below.
At a certain threshold, you’ll want to determine when to yield the powerful delete button. As a beginning, Workfront decided we would delete any project that 1) was untitled, or 2) was titled “test,” or 3) the project owner had not been with the company for 3+ years and the project wasn’t tied to revenue, e.g. a professional service project.
Starting with the easiest deletion candidates is a great way to get some early victories and momentum for the clean up effort before digging into the more nuanced objects.
Keep in mind, Workfront is your OSR - Operational System of Record. Your governance board should set the threshold for how far back it wants a view into historical work.
If you have hundreds of projects where all of the tasks and issues are complete, but the project is not marked as complete and you’d like to mark all them as complete, here is a time saving tip – edit the projects in bulk, changing the completion mode field to manual. This will automatically complete all projects in which all tasks and issues have been completed. You can then bulk edit the remaining projects as “dead”.
We set the threshold of marking projects as complete or dead if the project was incomplete and hadn’t been updated in 2+ years.
Once everything is cleaned up, be sure to advise your teams to filter their reports and view filters to show “active,” since many objects will still exist, but will be marked complete, dead or deactivated.
Share the Personal Activity Dashboard below (with the accompanying message) to enable your teams to keep their own items in Workfront current and up-to-date.
Although it is an effort that requires several weeks of focus, cleaning up your Workfront instance and aligning workflows and objects with current leadership and objectives will renew your organization’s ability do its best work.
Workfront Cleanup Dashboard
As you create these reports and add them to the cleanup dashboard, we recommend adding the name of the department to the beginning of each report’s name, e.g. Marketing Projects 100% Complete but NOT in Closed Status.
Number of Projects by Template
Tip: Projects can have multiple custom forms attached. Groupings will be based on the "First" custom form attached.
The personal activity dashboard is designed to show your teams a) all the active work they have in Workfront, and b) items they should probably mark as dead/cancelled/on hold or delete.
We created an article on our intranet with these warnings and placed this message in the description (at the top) of the dashboard:
IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ the guidelines in this article before taking any action - (link to intranet article)
As part of the DR@WF initiative, we created a report for you to a) see everything you have going on in Hub, and b) delete what shouldn’t be there.
BUT BEFORE YOU DO, please keep this in mind:
Hub is Workfront’s OSR - Operational System of Record. If you delete something just because it’s old, you delete that record.
Don'ts / Strong Cautions
Dos / Tips
Now that you’ve been warned in ALL CAPS, here is the dashboard:
Personal Activity Dashboard (hyperlink to the dashboard in your instance)
You may want to favorite and/or pin this page in the New Workfront Experience.
Personal Activity Dashboard Reports
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