Effective project management is a breeze for Mattel

(Image from Pixabay)

Multinational toymaker Mattel has deployed Adobe Workfront to simplify the management of the new product release process.

Mattel faced the challenge of managing projects across 10 brands, such as Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Fisher-Price, and 15 groups worldwide. Many employees of these brands and groups used disparate and unconnected systems.

To create a single view of the project workflow, the company simplified and modernized development and marketing operations by implementing Adobe Workfront, with help from digital consultancy IBM iX. Speaking at Adobe’s annual Summit conference, Will Cistone, Senior Director of IT at Mattel, said the implementation has yielded a series of benefits:

The project creation process is much simpler. It’s 100 times faster than before. If you have internet, you are there. It is not hidden in a local server or an application installed on someone’s machine. And then there’s the global nature of the platform. The ability to collaborate in a single Workfront solution allows everyone to get their work done much faster.

Cistone said there were several software options Mattel could have used to help manage its workflow. The selection process boiled down to two simple factors: user experience and ease of implementation:

As long as you have internet access, regardless of your device, you can access Workfront, which is vital, especially when working with international teams. And the user interface was another big selling point. It is very intuitive, easy to set up and easy to use, which also impacted our training and made it much easier for users to learn and adopt.

Jeff Hron, chief information officer at Mattel, explained how the company recognized that its sales teams needed a more efficient project management platform that could provide a holistic view of ongoing activities. His team set out to prove the benefits of Workfront to the business through a focused deployment process:

When defining our strategy, we felt it was in our interest not to take a “big bang” approach and deploy Workfront to all teams at the same time. We felt that to be successful, we needed to target teams that we felt were ready and highly motivated to be early adopters.

The implementation process began in Mattel’s American Girl Creative Services team, which was already using another project management tool and ready to move to a modern system. Hron said the “quick win” helped the implementation team understand what might be possible. The team then targeted other areas of the business:

We looked for teams that were ready and immediately willing to be early adopters, like our Digital Engagement Group, our Hot Wheels Brand Creative Team, and our Global Franchise Creative Team. This focused approach helped us keep the scope manageable, learn more about Workfront along the way, but – more importantly – it allowed us to work with IBM iX to define a repeatable process for deploying Workfront to our teams, and trying to repurpose and reuse templates, dashboards, and workflows.

Align on a common process

Hron said one of the unintended consequences of this methodical rollout process was that it generated “a lot of buzz and demand” at Mattel. Targeting individual teams first helped spread the word to the rest of the company:

Our approach has really opened up a lot of opportunities for us to pursue some of these broader use cases, like product development and marketing for all of our brands. I think our focused strategy has accelerated our ability to then deploy Workfront into broader use cases within the enterprise.

Cistone said the platform’s global rollout has created a single, real-time view of ongoing projects. Mattel’s global product development teams work on approximately 4,000 projects per year. Workfront enables these teams to actively update product development milestones and review assets, such as packaging materials, that are being created. Senior stakeholders, meanwhile, can visualize project stages and plan their use of resources, Cistone said:

We know that the source of the report comes from a single system versus augmented excel sheets and people manually intervening to modify it. The confidence and integrity of the data in this report is much more believable. It is therefore a big step forward to know that there is a single source for all this information.

As part of the implementation process, the team created an integrated data lake that is fed hourly with updated project information from Workfront. This integrated approach to data ensures that front-end reporting solutions always have accurate and timely information. Regarding lessons learned during the implementation process, Cistone highlighted the importance of strong and consistent leadership:

Having the same people from start to finish is vital, just for user buy-in. You also need strong partnerships with people like IBM iX and the internal IT team. Open and frank discussions are really helpful throughout the project.

Cistone said it was also important to manage user expectations and requirements. Great global teams will have ingrained ways of working. It can be difficult to transition these teams to a new way of working on a single solution:

You have to be careful not to design exceptions. So a lot of that is internal processes, but just make sure you don’t fall down rabbit holes for the brands – “for this brand we do it this way, and for this brand we do it this way “. Instead, you need to align with a common process.

Hron said one of the biggest challenges for other CIOs will be ensuring their business is maximizing the functionality of Workfront. He said that with the help of IBM iX, Mattel has worked hard to flesh out user needs and, more importantly, to unlock new demands:

You need to constantly demonstrate and demonstrate the functionality offered by Workfront, whether it’s workflow verification, automation, or all the different types of templates that can be created. We had to help our teams to think differently and not trust the way they are doing today. We really needed them to see what is possible with Workfront. So, I think the technique we used to constantly show Workfront and demonstrate it with the help of IBM iX, went a long way in ensuring that we maximized all of the functionality offered by the software.