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Governance for user created objects (reports, custom forms, views/filters/groupings)

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Level 2

Hi All,

We've been using Workfront for about a year, and more users are starting to experiment with creating custom forms, custom reports, and custom filters/views/grouping. Initially, we did not have any of these items locked down, as most users didn't know their way around the tool well enough to create these items. I ended up spending a good amount of time in Q-4 last year doing back-end maintenance and deleting around 100 reports that were user created but were either built incorrectly and abandoned, built and never used or fell out of use, or were just "test" reports that users created to play around in the tool. I then updated the remaining reports with meaningful naming conventions and descriptions (there was a lot of "user's name" for custom objects), but now more users are starting to create these items, which is starting to bring up questions on how to treat permissions for Plan License users in Workfront around these features. I was initially advised to not teach our users report creation (after starting to show our PM's this feature in the tool) and to have reporting locked down so the back-end of the system doesn't get messy. Instead I have encouraged users to leverage Filters and Views to on existing reports. I also created a Report/Dashboard Request queue to handle all report creation/edit request, but it is rarely utilized.

We have about 150 users currently. I am the only System Admin and we don't have Workfront Governance Committee. All our users exist within one group, so certain objects like statuses and custom forms can easily get out of hand (picking a custom form for an object on a task requires scrolling through a lengthy drop down to find the right selection). Now that I am having users wanting to customize their experience more (I just had one user create 30 reports for one project), I started locking down custom forms and reporting, but I wanted to see how other organizations have dealt with the balancing act of allowing users the freedom to customize their experience without sacrificing tool performance and usability for everyone else.

Is there a better way to organize our users to limit issues revolving around too many custom objects?

Will having a messy back-end with a lot of data ultimately slow down the tool and cause performance issues or will it just make System Admin clean-up tasks more time consuming?

How has your organization dealt with user permissions regarding custom object creation?

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7 Replies

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Community Advisor

hi Dayna, Governance is such a big topic. You have touched on some really big questions. People have talked for hours about governance, so I'm sure we're all hesitant about what we can say that would be meaningful and short(er). @Kristin Farwell‚ might be interested in this as a potential user group meeting topic. To try and give as short of an answer as possible:

1) For an instance of 150 users, think more in terms of usability and less in terms of performance. The less there is in the system, the less confusion and likelihood of error. It's not to say that performance isn't an issue, it's more that you want to have a good setup for other reasons first.

2) Ultimately, we work as a group. Your company is a group of people working together and you show this in Workfront.

I think where you want to strive for balance is getting a group or team consensus. In other words, try to get a group of people who already work together to come to consensus on the way they want to work. Customize for that and discourage customizing more granularly, using the philosophy of being usable and accurate (fewer objects are easier to keep accurate and easier for the users to use). Let the team decide for itself what works.

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Employee

@Skye Hansen‚ - Great idea to consider Governance for a User Group topic. I've added it to my list. Thanks for tagging me!

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Level 2

@Skye Hansen‚ that you for your thoughtful response. This makes a lot of sense for me. It is tough to get that consensus without a true governance committee in place but I think you are right that we need to continue to focus on usability and I will continue to make that my main focus in the way I handle permissions and organization. We implemented our current instance about a year ago and I'm starting to question whether we need to make changes in the overall structure and setup of our users to better serve their needs after seeing how people are using or wanting to use the tool. For instance, all our users are in the same group, which provides limitations when different areas of the business have different ways of doing work (i.e. require customized statuses, forms or workflows) so I have been exploring the idea of possibly breaking out the groups (which would incidentally also give me the opportunity to have power users or group admins to assist with getting that working consensus and handle some of the day to day work).

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Community Advisor

@Dayna Stein‚ -- It's a very true story that you don't know what you don't know, and before we implement Workfront, we just don't know anything about how it's going to work for us.

I would definitely audit your system regularly (once a year? Every other year?) with those questions you're thinking about: how can Workfront better serve your user needs, given what you've learned in the past year about Workfront, the changes in the system, and how your users have changed (more comfortable with the system? got re-orged? process changes or expansion to upstream/downstream processes?).

And yes, continue to focus on usability from a big picture standpoint. If you're taking care of 150 users, definitely do group or team them and ladder them up to those power users. Power users are a great way to sneakily grow your own governance committee. They'll be able to redirect their team of users more effectively to streamline the way they use the system, and you'll have people on your side who can help advise you on the best direction to take.

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Level 10

Hi Dayna,

The bad news is you have too many people with too much ability too early in the game. The good news is your organization has someone like you who cares and understands the risks. You're uncomfortable with the current state because you should be. But don't worry, for I've been down this road and found (created) the solution.

I invite you to review WFPro Package Manifest, which was created with the purpose of keeping the instance organized. It's the package that every instance of Workfront needs, but one that the lucky few have available. Working across several instances, I've probably created over 500 objects in 2020 alone (dashboards, reports, templates, forms, etc.) and haven't lost track of any of it, so it's clearly the glue holding things together and keeping me and my collaborator sane. Be sure to check out the demo (older version but it'll do) and the developer comments, which are very much relevant.

I have quite a few years experience operating a Center of Excellence for Truist Financial and would be happy to talk with you about strategies for keeping things tidy and controlled, along with the dozen or so other reasons why the manifest is saving my. Contact me at https://wf-pro.com/contact for more info.

Thanks,

Narayan

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Level 7

For our implementation, I am the primary administrator and I have a small handful of colleagues with administrator training/rights that each speak for their vertical within our business. In our design, we 3-4 are the only ones with the ability to create/modify Custom Forms, I can't begin to imagine the spaghetti mess of a data structure that would occur if the entire org could build their own. From a data security/continuity perspective alone, that's a hill I would pick to die on to have strong governance over.

For Views/Groupings etc, we have a generic company default but no restrictions otherwise on who can build their own. I personally see those as the section of the software than an individual user SHOULD be able to freely modify to work best for their own work streams. I might do a quarterly review to see which ones were created by inactive users, and clean them out if they weren't shared to anyone else, but otherwise leave it alone. If I had large teams, I suppose I might meet with each of them and ask if they'd like help developing a few department-focused ones they could all use so they saw similar views but it would be from a user-friendliness standpoint moreso than control.

For Reports/Dashboards, I'm somewhere between the two extremes. People should have access to their projects/tasks in a way that works best for their brains, but I also don't want every single PM dedicating time to developing reporting instead of running their projects. We allow anyone to develop their own if they wish, but from a purely practical standpoint many of them come to me at least to get started, if not fully finish things.

I would be marketing a governance strategy in your shoes, but mostly from a usability/UI development standpoint. Groups would also allow you to keep the overall structure from becoming overwhelming to the entire userbase. Marketing could see Marketing's Custom Forms, but not necessarily have to scroll through everything for the Tech team etc. Not so much 'You shouldn't see/be able to' as a ethos but more 'We want to tweak it to be even better/more efficient for you'.

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Level 2

Hi Katherine,

Thanks so much for this write-up! I think this is exactly the kind of approach that I would want to take and hopefully can work toward! I'm glad to see it is working well for your organization and I am on the right path.