Wayne Gretzky, known simply to hockey fans the world over as “The Great One”, once said that the trick behind his success was his ability to “skate to where the puck is going, not where it’s been.” In non-hockey terms, anticipating where you need to be can be a determinant of your future success.
This is a concept that Michelle Cookson, Project Leader for Complete Spectrum understands quite well. Based out of Tampa, Florida, Complete Spectrum is a growing seven-year-old full-service marketing services agency that specializes in strategic marketing planning. Their client engagements cover a range of industries.
Seeking a project management tool to improve productivity and identify opportunities
“Throughout my career I’ve always been a champion of improving productivity and identifying opportunities to do things smarter and faster,” said Cookson. “We keep our onsite team to less than 15 so that everyone can remain focused on client work. Given that focus, it can be very challenging to find the time to step back and identify ways that will help us get ahead of the business. We had been using rudimentary tools like Microsoft Office and Harvest for time tracking, but I knew we wouldn’t be able to grow the business in the way we imagined unless we found a better, purpose-built project management tool.”
In her role as Project Leader, Cookson leads both client-facing work and manages the traffic of new work. From an operations perspective, Cookson recognized that in order for the firm to efficiently scale they would need to make an investment now in improved organizational processes in order to reap benefits down the road. So, in early 2013 she dedicated time to identifying a web-based project management tool that would help Complete Spectrum improve the efficiency of their workforce and collaborate more effectively with their clients.
The advanced tool they were looking for
After evaluating a number of lightweight task management tools, Cookson understood that in order to achieve what she was hoping over the long term, she would need a more advanced tool that could both manage all of their work in a single workspace and provide an analytics platform to help guide strategic decision making for the growing firm.
Valuable insights into resources
Cookson says, “We recognized that the more data we can put into a tool, the more we’ll get out of it in the long run. Once we standardized on LiquidPlanner, it was relatively easy getting everyone to run all of their work through the system, whether they were a full-time employee or a third-party strategic partner. For instance, every resource has weekly billable goals so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to make them use one system for managing time and another for managing their project work since the two are so integrated. By consolidating everything project-related into a single workspace, we can gain valuable insights into how people are spending their time while allowing billable resources to focus on client work.”
Effective workflows for everyday tasks
In addition to capturing all of their work in a single tool, Cookson also appreciates how LiquidPlanner can also be used to build workflows for common tasks that are repeated across clients. “Over the course of seven years, we’ve developed quite a bit of intellectual property around our internal processes so it’s enormously helpful to be able to codify those processes into workflows using the Checklists feature in LiquidPlanner.”
At the end of the day, Cookson says that though they still plan to further optimize how they use the LiquidPlanner tool, it has been essential in helping them run their business with more precision.