Taking Project Management to a Collaborative Level
By Samuel Greengard
Managing tasks and projects for more than 200 radio stations scattered across 14 countries is a daunting proposition, but that's what Charlotte, N.C.-based Bible Broadcasting Network (BBN) had to do. What began as a single radio station in 1971 now reaches approximately 200 million people.
"Keeping IT and other efforts coordinated requires significant resources," says business and operations manager Jason Padgett.
In the past, project management responsibilities fell mostly on the shoulders of department heads and local managers. That led to numerous inaccuracies, made it extremely difficult to pull up past data and put pressure on traveling executives to connect to needed data.
"We had no consolidated place to track what was going on within the organization," Padgett explains. "BBN's leadership wanted to allocate resources more effectively."
In 2010, the organization, which employs nearly 100, began to explore ways to eliminate spreadsheets and glitchy manual processes. As a result, BBN turned to cloud-based Smartsheet project management to link the organization and consolidate data into a single repository.
"The goal was to connect everyone so that collaboration could take place for both long-term and short-term projects," Padgett says. Among other things, BBN must manage the construction of new stations, the acquisitions of existing stations and a slew of internal projects encompassing everything from finance to human resources to IT.
Before adopting the project management solution, BBN had to manually create and track paperwork related to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) relicensing initiatives, which occur every eight years. The organization found itself buried in paperwork, and sorting and managing documents required hundreds of hours and significant resources.
The cloud-based approach has streamlined document management and made it easy to recall desired documents. It also enables the radio network to better manage government regulations.
In a similar fashion, BBN's IT department previously handled requests and call tickets in an ad hoc and often haphazard manner. Today, a BBN IT manager creates a ticket sheet for every issue and tracks the resolution step-by-step in the Smartsheet application. The sheet is shared with everyone involved in the request, which provides greater transparency, trust and efficiency, according to Padgett.
There's been "a huge change in the way our IT department works—not only among themselves, but with the rest of our network," he notes. "Tickets no longer fall through the cracks, and supervisors are kept updated."
More than anything else, the customizable and collaborative approach has helped build an organization that's in sync and operating at digital speed. Managers and employees have the option to view the information on a personal computer or a mobile device.
"The fact that all changes update to any line item in a project and are sent automatically as a notification to all interested parties is a powerful capability," Padgett explains. "Today, we have the ability to make changes on the fly, and everyone across the organization can view them in real time."