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Finding a Collaborative Solution

By Bryan Bradley Print this article Print

Digital agency imc² needed a collaborative project management solution that would adapt to the rapidly changing environment of interactive marketing.

Finding a Collaborative Solution

Given that our clients have differing requirements and that production schedules have become so compressed, we needed a collaborative project management solution that would adapt to the way we work. Our overall approach is centered on frameworks, and those frameworks grow and change based on our clients’ industries. So we needed a tool that could grow and change with us.

Because the majority of our revenue is based on billable client projects and professional services, we rely on our project management processes to help us deliver projects on time and on budget. A significant part of this is resource allocation. We not only have to manage our staff resources effectively and efficiently, but all our team members also have to track their time to the minute.

This meant that part of our overall solution had to include a flexible Web-based project management system that was powerful enough to meet the needs of our senior project managers, but simple enough so that everyone involved with a project—whether in-house or across partner agencies—would adopt it.

Time entry had to be straightforward enough that it would take only a couple of minutes to complete. And, perhaps most importantly, the software had to be accessible to team members from client sites and remote locations in order to support and present real-time data updates.

To find the ideal solution, I assembled a team of key stakeholders throughout the company who represented our key disciplines. Together, we researched potential solutions and leveraged some research from analysts like Forrester and Gartner. We soon came up with a short list of about 10 Web-based project management software systems, and we conducted a thorough evaluation of each.

Implementation and Integration

After an exhaustive review, in January 2007 we went live with a pilot project for the Enterprise Accessible Server Edition of Project Insight Web-based project management software from Metafuse. The pilot was so successful that, by the end of February 2007, we rolled Project Insight out across our entire company.

Metafuse worked with our Great Plains (MS Dynamics) partner to integrate Project Insight’s budgeting and costing data with our accounting software and with our expenses, which are stored in an in-house program. These integrations were performed with Project Insight’s Web Services APIs.

Since the implementation, our resource allocation has improved. We operate in an extremely fast-paced environment, so our staff requirements can change daily. One of the most significant benefits of this program is that it gives us the ability to staff in real time. At any given moment, I can see which resources are available and sort them by skill set. Then, our resource managers can put our team members to the best, most productive use.

In the past, resource visibility was always a week behind because we were using a manual process to compile the project plans in our portfolio. Now, we have a real-time view of everything in our portfolio at the click of a button, and we have visibility of 60 to 90 days—instead of only the week we had previously. That makes it much easier to adapt to our clients’ changing needs.

Our continuously evolving methods, processes and technology solutions provide key supports in helping us achieve our long-term vision of scale, while improving our transparency to customers as part of producing excellent creative and strategic work.

With offices in Dallas, New York and Philadelphia, imc² is a full-service digital agency that helps its clients use interactive marketing to communicate with their own customers. Those clients include Pizza Hut, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline.

This article was originally published on 2009-03-25
Bryan Bradley is senior vice president of technology services at imc².
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