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Kansas State University Centralized Their Project Management

Kansas State University Centralized Their Project Management

By Steve Pogue


That was what Ashley Martin, the Executive Director, University Marketing and Creative Services at Kansas State University wanted in a project management tool.

The University Relations team at KSU is the centralized marketing and communications hub for the university. Formed about 6 years ago, the team serves more than 100 colleges, departments, units and other university clients, ranging from Admissions to Engineering to the Office of Student Life.

“We function as an in house agency for the university. We intake projects through folks who were called client managers like account supervisors at an agency and they intake those projects and get them into the queue for creation,” said Ashley.

With a 44 person team plus a number of student workers, the University Relations team tracks more than 400 active projects at any one time.

Problems: Inconsistency, Oversight, and Communication

“We were really working against each other as opposed to with each other. ” Ashley said.

With creating this new office of University Relations, KSU was encountering a common problem higher-ed marketing teams face: inconsistency. It’s an enemy very familiar to many teams, but for higher-ed marketing teams, inconsistency seeps into many aspects of a project lifecycle and how they deal with internal clients.

Inconsistency problems were far-reaching:

  • The number of different tools teams were using (some were using Word, others Excel, and others Basecamp)
  • The branding they delivered on projects
  • The inefficient processes they were using to manage projects

“Everybody was using different tools and there was no oversight from a branding perspective to make sure that everything was cohesive across the board. At one point the university tried an enterprise wide launch of Microsoft Project, but that failed because a lot of folks on campus couldn’t figure out how to best use it in their areas,” Ashley said.

Action: The Search

“We were trying to find a way to unify everyone,” Ashley Martin said.

In order to better achieve the consistency and cohesion they were looking for, leadership felt that centralizing their project management process was the way to go.

Like many searching for project management software, they began with a large list of 20-25 choices. KSU had defined four priorities to narrow down the list of choices.

  • Easy to use.

    They surely didn’t want to relive the complexity of Microsoft Project again.

  • Quick setup.

    Capacity was at max levels. Their new unit needed to get setup quickly because the project list kept growing and growing.

  • A partner.

    Ashley said, “We wanted to find a partner who was a large enough company that we knew that they would be around for a long time, but small enough that we still felt like we would get individualized attention if we ever had any concerns or issues”.

  • Cost effective.

    Being a new team, they needed a tool that would give them great value without costing them a lot of money.

KSU chose Workzone to solve their inconsistency issues and track their work from request to final creative. Workzone was the right mix of a company with a strong track record and the personal touch to work with all levels of users on a college campus.

To get setup quickly, KSU leveraged Workzone’s on-boarding plan to start tracking all of their projects within one month.


Regarding how much its improved their creative process, Steve Logback, Assistant VP of Communications and Marketing at KSU says has often been asked Why didn’t we do this sooner?.

On Top of Their Game

Before they brought on Workzone, KSU had situations where a client manager was out in the field with a client from an academic department. That person may have asked the client manager, “Hey, where’s this project at?”. Without a centralized system, the client manager was caught off guard.

“It really made us look like we weren’t on top of our game. Now having an online system, we can access it anywhere on campus. They can quickly look up the project to see the status of the project and inform the client,” Ashley stated.

Gone are the days of looking bad in front of an internal client. Now when they are in the field, client managers can answer the question of project status just by looking at a Workzone dashboard.

“It makes our clients know that we’re on top of everything that we’re working on for them,” Ashley said.

KSU’s client managers can now work from anywhere on campus and its online  accessibility has been a game changer in efficiency.

“Our teams can enter projects when they’re out visiting on campus. They don’t have to wait until they get back in the office. It’s really increased our efficiency and improved our communication,” Ashley said.

Cost Effective Solution

Without much of a budget, KSU needed a powerful tool that could keep up with their pace without breaking the bank. From time and efficiency savings to an increased amount of projects completed, KSU has impressed its peers.

“Workzone has saved us at least an hour per project, the equivalent of one-half of a
person. The time– savings alone is worth five times the cost of Workzone,” reports Logback.

Consistency in Project Delivery

KSU achieved consistency through Workzone’s flexibility. Ashley found that she could build out Workzone for different types of organizations she oversees and easily change aspects of it if she needs to.

Specifically, Ashley has leveraged project templates to consistent deliver projects where she didn’t before.

“The steps for a design print piece are completely different than what our video team would be doing, so really making sure that we customize each template in a way that makes sense to our team individually, helps with communication,” Ashley said.

Leveraging project templates wasn’t all that rosy at first. Ashley and her team learned a valuable lesson in how to work with templates and understanding what matters most in tracking projects.

Ashley said, “We realized we got to the point where we were over processing ourselves and making a task for every little step in the process. We learned over time that we don’t need to track every teeny little thing and we have that flexibility with it, which is great. And we can change those templates really easily and make sure that it is customizable.”

Quick Setup and Ongoing Support

Getting set up quickly was an original goal of the KSU team when they first purchased Workzone. Besides the smooth initial implementation, new users pick up Workzone quickly.

“People pick it up really quickly. Any type of project management system seems intimidating at first, but once you’re in it, it’s fine. On-boarding is really easy with this system,” said Ashley.

Workzone understands that marketing directors and coordinators don’t have time to train new employees one on one. That’s why Workzone offers unlimited training and support for the life of the contract.

Steve Pogue is the Marketing Operations Manager at Workzone. He writes about project management tips and the buying process. When not at Workzone, you can find him playing vintage base ball or relaxing with his family at home.