The marketing team at Texas State Technical College (TSTC) was going through drastic changes when they came to Workzone. Just having merged marketing departments across multiple campuses, they needed to standardize procedures, promote collaboration, and keep track of budgets and deadlines.
TSTC’s marketing department started using Workzone in 2014. Workzone’s transparent project management platform provides time tracking, monitors workloads, tracks results, and provides expansive reporting.
One of the added benefits of using Workzone is that TSTC has been able to use the integrated reporting to make the case for new hires and identify which teams need the most help. Nick Alvarado, the Vice President of Communications and Creative Services, shared that he has “been able to say: ‘Here’s what’s going on. Here are the number of projects that were completed last year, the year before, [and] the number of projects our employees are working on consistently. We need to fill these positions because we are drowning.’”
Attracting top student talent while working within strict budgetary directives has resulted in growing pressure for communications and marketing departments at higher education institutions. TSTC’s marketing team was no exception. Challenged to justify the money proposed for their annual budget, they needed the tools to illustrate they were producing a positive return on investment with the funds they were allocated.
“When it comes to budget and ROI, the big question is always ‘Where is the value in your marketing efforts?’ We live in a data-driven society, and no one can just take your word for your word anymore.”
– Nick Alvarado, Vice President of Communications and Creative Services
The marketing team needed solid data to make a case for:
- Expanding their operational budget
- Hiring much-needed team members
- Contracting out work to third-parties when necessary
- Increasing compensation to help retain current employees
The team was struggling to produce this data because of inconsistent processes and procedures. TSTC had four different marketing departments, spread across four different locations, serving 10 campuses in total. Each team had its own way of managing projects and tracking their work. Solutions ranged from pen and paper to Google documents and spreadsheets.
With the disparity across groups, it was incredibly difficult to monitor and understand the progress of projects and the effectiveness of teams across departments. Leadership lacked consistent data and reports to generate these insights.
TSTC’s marketing department needed a team-wide tool with standardized processes and reports that would allow them to gather and publish the data required to answer these two basic questions:
- How do you justify your budget?
- Where is the value in your marketing efforts?
Nick understood that the first step in solving this problem was merging the separate marketing departments into one large, unified department and adopting an all-in-one system that could be used successfully across the board.
Workzone was TSTC’s tool of choice for two primary reasons:
- It is a project management software built by marketers for marketers. “There are IT companies who develop project management systems that have tried to sell them to us, but they don’t fit what our needs are because they’re fit more towards IT,” Nick said. The tool contains the specific features that marketing teams at colleges and universities like TSTC need.
- It is an all-in-one project management solution that enables TSTC to successfully track and report on all projects coming through. This includes insight into who projects are being assigned to and where budgets are being allocated and spent. It also enables the team to monitor resource workloads and employee productivity.
Knowing that adoption of a new tool and new processes would be a hurdle, Nick and the other executives focused on change management throughout the transition period.
Their change management strategy followed a three-pronged approach:
- Leadership acted as strong spokespeople for the new system and processes, effectively promoting the change to their employees with a consistent message from the top. Nick shared that “it starts with leadership. You have to get them on board to support your process and make sure it’s trickled down for consistency. And they have to use the system. Our managers use this system during their meetings to review projects, timelines, workload, and more.”
- The College involved all team members early on in the process to ensure they felt included and heard. Nick’s advice: “Get your team involved in customizing the solution — request forms, project templates, all of it. Make them part of the process not just with setting things up, but also in evaluating available tools so they can have buy-in from the beginning.”
- Leadership communicated why the system and its resulting data mattered, as well as how it would affect employees. “Show why this data matters. Show how productivity affects the budget and employee compensation. They don’t have to know the intricate details, but show them the big picture,” Nick said.
Thanks to the successful adoption of standardized processes, tools, and reports, TSTC has achieved the following positive outcomes:
70% increase in projects completed
Since TSTC began using Workzone in 2014, they’ve seen a nearly 70 percent increase in projects completed yearly, now managing more than 4,000 each year.
Using data from Workzone, TSTC has been able to tie productivity and efficiency to compensation, effectively incentivizing employees to take on more work. These insights also enabled them to ensure they were hiring the right roles for their team.
“We’ve used Workzone to see how many projects someone has completed. When it comes time for somebody to ask for a raise, you can’t just say that someone worked hard. Where’s the data to back that up?”
– Nick Alvarado, Vice President of Communications and Creative Services
When your employees know that their reviews, their compensation, and the marketing department’s operational budget are all tied to project data, it’s much easier to motivate employees to take on additional work.
Additional marketing hires where they’re needed most
The marketing department has been able to secure additional hires and resources because of its ability to show a solid need. The new system enabled them to clearly illustrate how many hours employees are working on a regular basis as well as how many projects are being requested and completed.
With the use of project reports, the TSTC marketing department could illustrate exactly how many positions they needed and which positions were in demand. “We initially planned to hire three graphic designers, but looking at our workload, we noticed a lot of video work coming in, so we changed one of those positions to a videographer,” Nick shared.
TSTC was also able to assess exactly which resources they needed for optimum efficiency. For instance, by monitoring workloads, they realized there was no need for both a portal master and a webmaster. “We were able to combine that position and open up the resources to hire in another area.”
The team was even able to convince administrators to end a year-long hiring freeze by providing the data which showed that more employees were needed to keep up with demand.
Improved interdepartmental collaboration
Interdepartmental collaboration can be tricky. It can be difficult getting the right information at the right time without misunderstanding and delays. But, by adopting Workzone project request forms, the marketing department is now able to extract the exact data they need from requesters with little to no back-and-forth.
By regularly sharing this project data with the other departments, there is an increased university-wide understanding of the marketing team’s bandwidth. Nick said, “Our collaborators know now how time-strapped we are, and many have improved communication.”
With historical tracking and changes captured within the system, the marketing team can better monitor and understand who is responsible for what. There is also less risk of miscommunication, as tasks and notes can be tracked in one central location.
By documenting everything in one system, it’s easier for everyone who is involved to stay up-to-date on what is going on and to ensure that nothing critical is missed. Plus, it becomes easy to pinpoint where communication breakdowns occur and to understand what has and hasn’t been completed.
“In the past, there had been a couple of times where something has come across my desk, and it’s questioned by either the chancellor’s office or a vice-chancellor, ‘Where did this come from?’, ‘Who said this?’, ‘Why is this late?’, or ‘Why didn’t this get out on time?’ And we’ve had to, in the past, shuffle through emails, go through written notes — stuff like that — to try to find out who dropped the ball. But with Workzone it’s all in one place.” – Nick Alvarado, Vice President of Communications and Creative Services
A boost in employee morale and recognition
Awards can now be tied directly to employee contributions, resulting in team members being recognized and rewarded. “This past year we had four people out of my team get awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for employees who’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty,” Nick said.
With increased interdepartmental collaboration and visibility across the organization, several of their staff members were nominated for the award. “I got some direct questions saying, ‘So and so said this about the employee. Can you give me more details?’ ”
Instead of providing generic praise, Nick was able to provide specifics on what had been accomplished: “I was able to say, ‘Caitlin has worked on a redesign of our graduation programs, and I know she’s worked a lot on our student activities calendars. The things that are the big monsters that nobody wants to deal with, she dealt with.’ All that’s tracked in Workzone, showing that she’s done that and the type of work that she’s done.”
Through the successful adoption of Workzone, the TSTC is able to gather and share all of the necessary data to run a productive marketing team, communicate the value of their efforts, and make a case for additional resources.
With the data gained from Workzone, the marketing team can consistently illustrate the department’s return on investment and support its annual budget, effectively resolving the problem they faced and gaining advantages far beyond what the team initially hoped.
One last piece of advice from Nickis: “Answer the simple question, ‘What am I trying to accomplish?’ For us, it was to integrate one project management system that can be used across multiple campuses across Texas, so everyone knew what was going on. And once we got that, we were able to fine-tune and discover so much more data that was available to us.”
Is your team facing pressure to support your budget and prove your worth? If so, Workzone can help you collect the necessary data and present it to your stakeholders in a meaningful way.
Request a demo today to learn more about how Workzone can help your higher education marketing team track your resources and justify your operational budget.