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USER SURVEYS: How to get the insight needed to ID what's working, what needs to be refreshed and additional opportunities to optimize the system.


Level 2

Hi Workfront fam!

I am a new system admin for a team of 175 users. We've experienced a dip in system usage and I've been asked to uncover the underlying cause and ID ways to address.

I'm hoping to collect user feedback to gather insights that will help me ID ways to increase usage, areas that need to be refreshed and drive system optimization.


  • Has anyone else had success with gathering this sort of feedback?
  • If so, what tactics did you use to gather feedback and are you willing to share questions asked that helped provide this type of insight?
  • Any additional suggestions on ways to address as an admin?

Thank you in advance for your feedback and support. Looking forward to continuing to learn more as a new admin.

Thank you,



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5 Replies


Level 10

We found this very difficult after our first year with WF. Man, I can't believe it's been a year already…

Our users don't want to speak their minds candidly about what's painful (with those few exceptions every office has) or can't quite articulate their needs. Or are just too busy to stop and be bothered. We guess the best we can but know there are likely quite a bit more friction points than what we hear about.

Users gripe amongst themselves, but as admins it doesn't generally reach us. I definitely latch-on to those items that do percolate to me though, and try to make it clear they can always come to me and give feedback, vent, gripe, and pick nits all they want. And I attack problems as quickly as I am able as a show that we care.

In the end, we hired a consultant versed in WF, and that effort is ongoing. The hope was users would be more candid if the SysAdmins were out of the loop; less confrontational feeling. So far they haven't uncovered much we didn't already know, but it may be the solutions they offer that are what is important.

Verdict is still out. I look forward to seeing what this thread brings to light. Hoping for a lightbulb moment.


Level 6

Definitely bookmarking this one to see what other folks have to share, great topic idea!

I am a career sys-admin of a lot of different technologies, only about a year with Workfront but well-versed in user-adoption challenges and process design. Here's the cliff notes from what I've learned over the years.

There is a temptation in any situation like this to do a couple things:

  • a) Focus on it as 'what's wrong with the system (ie a technical problem)'
  • b) View fixing it as a finite goal (ie if I just get that report right, they'll stop protesting)
  • c) Take their resistance personally - This one is a hard one, especially when you're the implementation lead.

At it's core, the issue isn't that the user-base aren't using the system, the issue is that they aren't telling you why. It's a system issue, but the root is a PR issue. That can happen for a lot of reasons, they don't know how to reach you, they don't know they CAN ask for help, your predecessor was a jerk that yelled at them (seen it), they think you're too busy to be bothered etc.

Solving that is frankly like trying to arm wrestle an octopus, but here's some stunts I've pulled in the past:

  • Out-right bribery - I once implemented a standing bounty that the first team to have all their monthly billing in got to pick the next crazy baking stunt I brought in. Yes, it's absurd, but over time they would come to me earlier in the month when they got stuck on things. I got much quicker insight into the roadblocks, and they started focusing on how to fix the process with me instead of just resenting it. Chocolate chip cookies do solve problems.
  • Explicitly recognizing complaints as positive - Sometimes I get asked things I can't solve, the system just doesn't do that. In those cases, I send them and their boss a note thanking them for the idea. If possible, I'll write it up as an idea submission, and recognize them for bringing me a solid use-case that I was able to submit for the development team to look at for the entire platform. I don't want them to stop coming to me with things just because the answer was 'No' the last time.
  • Recognizing the person requesting the change for it's positive affect - A note to your PM team of 'Hey, Jane brought a concern to me that we were recording data in two places at once, so it's extra work and getting out of sync. I was able to adapt the form so it only asks you to type it in once now.' takes no time at all and ensures Jane will KEEP coming to you and so will her team.
  • Office Hours - This is a DMD thing, the owners of various systems and processes have a standing meeting or two each week with no agenda. If you have a question, need help or just want to learn something - that's time explicitly set aside for that. Particularly for junior employees, reaching out can be hard, and this levels the playing field. They aren't interrupting me, I'm literally sitting there for them.
  • Honesty - This is a powerful one for a new admin. They don't yet associate you with whatever annoys them about the system, so you have a window of time that saying 'Hey, I get that it can be a pain, and I can see some things that could make life easier but I'm not sure where to focus to help the most. Can you give me 30min to walk through the top 3 things that drive you insane/cost you time/you wish were different?' can actually work. Some people stop asking when they stop feeling heard, but you're a new set of ears.
  • Focus on junior staff - This one is a little like compound interest. If you focus on developing the system purely to meet the needs of senior stakeholders, you'll be blind to the actual work being done by front-line staff. Adapt a process to produce an end-result for a senior leader without understanding that it's triplicate data entry for the PM team, and nobody gets what they want. Spend your time with the junior folks and you get a window into how things actually happen on the ground, their insights are invaluable.

I'm going to wrap this one before it becomes a novel, I'll come back later with specific questions on how to get to the solvable things since that's a slightly different angle.



Level 6

And coming back with actual specific ideas/questions to get what you need:

This becomes a framework of sorts as well -

  • 1) What aren't they using?
  • 2) Why aren't they using it?
  • 3) What's being used in it's place?

Are you seeing a drop in usage because:

  • Business processes changed, and that feature is simply no longer needed?
  • Client demands changed, and the existing reporting no longer meets the client requirements?
  • New senior leader on the team doesn't trust Workfront, is mandating duplicate tracking in their Google sheet methods? (Seen it, still wince)
  • Internal re-org means some needed feature no longer works quite right?

What does drop in usage mean to you? Users aren't logging in as often? Reports aren't used? Projects aren't being setup properly or tasks not assigned? Business processes are breaking, and data isn't reaching the right people timely?

From there, does the org have a process for requesting changes? If someone needs something new, who/how do they ask? Is there a stakeholder that speaks for each functional group? (And if not, can there be? People may not approach an admin, but they'll vent to their teammates much more easily.)

What reports/features ARE most in-use? Who's using them? That gives you a sense of who the power-users might be to start interviewing etc.



Level 10

So. Many. Stories...

To pick two favorites from among my Top 10...

One of the most humbling but insightful suggestions I received from our Sponsor after what I felt was a dazzling introductory meeting was to instead restrict my content to only what the audience needed at that point in time. We tried it at the next session, ending WAY earlier (to the audience's pleasant but slightly confused astonishment), and used a bit of the extra time by admitting the feedback, explain the new approach, and our intention to coach, as and when needed. It did the trick, broke the ice (people reciprocated by admitting the were feeling overwhelmed with trying to learn it all at once), and created positive momentum that carried through for a happy client who's now been around for many years.

And the other (which is indeed my number one), is that I believe there is no substitute for having Workfront become the One Source Of Truth that drives the folks who depend on it, as a foundational motivational factor: make it so, and they will engage.