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Letter from the CCO (September 2020): Untangling the Planning Process




A few weeks ago at dinner, after my daughter’s second day of in-person school, she said to me, “My art teacher asked us what our parents’ bets were for how long we would attend in-person before moving back to eLearning.” Shortly after that, her math teacher gave all the students their workbooks for the whole semester, just in case. That’s a lot of uncertainty for the first week of school! 


It might feel difficult to see the bright spots and the success right now. It helps to anchor ourselves to a North Star: something to keep us pointed in the right direction. At Workfront, we’re passionate about a concept called the Commander’s Intent.


A Commander’s Intent is a statement that includes the most important thing you can do, your desired outcomes, and your constraints. It is meant to be that North star to provide orientation when things get uncertain - which we’re all familiar with in 2020!


Commander’s Intent

In my personal life, my Commander’s Intent might be, “We, as parents, exist to grow our children into healthy, educated, well-balanced, productive and happy adults’. With this one statement as our North star, it’s much easier to handle all that life is throwing at us. Things may not always go as planned, but I can keep focus on helping them grow into the adults they’re meant to be.  


It’s the same in our professional life - without a North star and tangible goals to connect to strategy, you can easily be thrown off by unexpected changes. At Workfront, every leader has a Commander’s Intent to orient their teams. Employees can tie their work directly to the goals of the department and see the impact they have on achieving those goals. If something goes awry, we can change direction on the fly and be creative as long as we all know the single most important thing we should be doing.  


Connecting our work to strategy

We’ve been leading with Commander’s Intent since our CEO, Alex Shootman, joined Workfront in 2015, and it’s had a huge impact on our ability to execute. We have a strong focus on cascading objectives and goals to help every employee see how their work connects to the higher level outcomes.


Initially, we kept track of these goals in a third-party tool, while managing our work in our own instance of Workfront, which we call Hub. We wanted a better way to connect those goals to our day-to-day work in a single place, and we knew our customers did as well. So we built a new product called Workfront Align. Align allows us to create cascading goals and directly connect those goals to the projects we work on every day in Workfront. Having this direct connection has been a game-changer for us internally. Have you looked at Align? Take a few minutes and familiarize yourself with it here.


Untangling the planning process

Because there are often multiple ways to achieve your goals, each with pros and cons, budget differences and resource requirements, your next hurdle is to decide the best path forward. 


One of the best strategies to effective planning is to create multiple scenarios, compare them, and then decide on the best approach. Unfortunately, this has historically been a manual and time-consuming process. Last month we released Workfront Scenario Planner, a product that is purpose-built to easily allow you to create, compare and select the right approach to meet your goals.  


New System Admin Bootcamp and Certification

Speaking of goals, one of our major objectives last quarter was to launch a brand new System Administrator Boot Camp and certification program. In August, we delivered our first Intermediate System Administrator Boot Camp, which was very well received. If you were in this first session, please know how much we appreciate your participation and the feedback you have shared. 


Many attendees of this class also opted to take our new certification exam. I am thrilled to share that we now have 11 formally certified Workfront System Administrators! Congratulations to Andrey Popov (JLL), Chris Flynn (Florida Health Care Plans), Dan Wheeler (Amazon), Edison Kent (Amazon), Jake Kiser (Amazon), Jarod Walker (Amazon), Katherine Stibley (DMD Marketing), Sarah Stonestreet (Consumers Energy), Justin Hochelle (Apple) and last but not least, Liz Kalicak (BJC Healthcare).  


Thank you for being part of the Workfront family and for helping us grow and be better every day. To our friends that have been impacted by the recent fires, hurricanes and violence: our hearts go out to you. If there’s anything we can do to help, or to make your day-to-day life easier, please don’t hesitate to ask. 


 - Sue