|Below are five case studies of recent work by SNAPPS for our enterprise clients. Focus is on results - we start there and work backwards to the solutions and strategies presented.
Case 1: The Executive Meeting and Decision Support
A large automotive manufacturing concern has plants all over the world, with country and regional presidents and vice presidents, but has managed their global multi-billion _______(insert currency here, they all apply) concern closely by bringing together the CEO and top 30-40 presidents and vice presidents once a month for two days for a physical meeting. To enhance the ability of the CEO and management to reach consensus on initiatives, each month every one of these executives received a packet with all current 100-million-plus investment initiatives (new plant, massive marketing campaign, etc.) as PowerPoint files, expected to comment on them, and give a "vote" - their personal thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the idea.
In addition to arranging the meeting and agenda, the CEO's executive assistants (and a few executives) were tasked with tallying votes, consolidating comments, and presenting a comprehensive but concise package to the CEO and all team members. Enter Quickr, in the guise of a web application that automated the entire process from uploads to presentation slide viewing (without PowerPoint, BTW) to commenting, voting, data capture, and the organization of an agenda designed to maximize the meeting's effectiveness. Executives arrived ready and able to skip past the details (already read), comment on comments, and make decisions. Fast forward a couple years, and the meetings can be held virtually some of the time.
Case 2: Global Patent Application Management
A beverage company operates in just about every country on earth. As you can imagine, the introduction of a new brand involves not only creative people and lots of meetings, but a serious amount of patent and trademark research by the company's formidable patent legal team - and contracted firms in many countries. Managing this process through email? Yes, that's what they did for years.
A simple application based on a tracking form, some placebots for internal notification and external status updates has brought this process some semblance of order while effectively halving the time-to-trademark process for global brands. International attorneys and contract firms can submit and review submitted names and designs, then use internal processes to conduct their investigations and searches.
Case 3: The Extranet(s)
This is really two cases in one - as several of our clients have chosen to deploy Quickr as an extranet for sharing documents, business processes, and even work product with clients. One commonality among companies that have chosen to use Quickr as an extranet is that they almost always need UI work to match corporate standards and provide their own branding. A second is that these companies typically have one "place" per customer - or, in some cases, if the company's work is large project-based, one per project.
Our first extranet is hosted by a global insurance company serving many of the world's largest companies. With nearly 3,000 (and growing) places surfaced through WebSphere Portal, they had a unique set of needs to provide clients with the ability to easily retrieve insurance certificates, submit requests, and maintain relationships with account managers. In addition to the customized theme, we developed five custom forms to manage content with expiration dates, enhance tasks to include multiple assignees and consolidated reminder emails, provide for imported PDF and Flash files, and a multiple-PDF import facility. This combination serves the company's 25,000+ internal and external users, keeping client information readily available to account managers and clients. As a "P.S." to this case, they also migrated away from two other systems.
The second extranet is a little more project-based, and is for one of the world's best known marketing and advertising firms. For each major account they land, they rapidly spin up a Quickr space that includes their branding (of course) with a twist: The ability to easily import their client's logo to co-brand the site and impart the sense of collaboration from the start. Once the design is finished (about 5 minutes), this firm imports project documents to the shared library or discussion - depending on whether the images and documents need feedback. Then, they write a blog entry to introduce the client to the site. In this case, we combined the standard place with the wiki and blog features found in the templates to make one "super-template". Effective and efficient, it allows the host company to land a sale one day and be up and running with a populated site the next.
Case 4: Innovation Feedback and Reporting Dashboard
One of the big four consulting/accounting/auditing firms approached us with a few serious challenges last year. They are in the process of changing their operating software globally, and a massive team of developers works to deliver enhancements, bug fixes, and new versions in a timely and professional fashion. The challenge is that the thousands of users of the systems in question are distributed worldwide in engagement teams of 4-10 people - with an engagement manager, country and region managers, and a central team. Gathering feedback and ideas for improvement is not only highly distributed, but if left to messaging would be completely unmanageable. Enter a collaborative workspace.
For this challenge we built two major pieces of functionality: idea "management" and a reporting "dashboard". Each has a different audience, user base, and purpose. I'll start with the "idea": End users enter ideas into the system, and depending on where the user is in the hierarchy of the organization, it is either self-approved (not meaning that the idea is approved, but rather the posting of it is) or requires an approval step. The workflow is highly dynamic and based on a set of flexible rules. Once an idea is approved for posting, the "second tier" management person assigned to that group in that territory or country provides a ranking using the familiar "1-5 stars" methodology. The criteria for rankings are not based solely on merit, but also on the completeness and clarity of the idea. Once ideas are posted and available for others to view, they are opened up for comments - which are entered blog-style in a simple and intuitive UI.
With several territories and hundreds (perhaps thousands) of ideas in each, bringing this content to leadership can be a daunting task. To simplify, we built a data-driven search facility that, when executed, produces a report of all ideas meeting the criteria in the search parameters. The report includes the idea titles, author, content of the idea, ranking, and even all the gathered comments to date. The report can be "massaged" by the report-writer before distribution; for instance, they can choose to summarize it by not showing comments, single out individual ideas and exclude them from the report (perhaps in the case of redundant concepts), and re-run the original query with tweaks based on the original results. Reports are saved as a snapshot in time and "locked" so they can be revisited later, or archived by an automated process. Finally, the rich text report can be sent to leadership either as a link, or as rich MIME to carry on the road in Notes mail.
As of today, several thousand ideas have worked through this system, creating not only a sense of community and inclusion among the end users, but also informing leadership about the most important concepts to improve their practices. We are actively working with this client on a new project to provide aggregated reporting across all their territories and countries - breaking long-standing perceived technical barriers and performance limitations of Quickr and Domino.
Case 5: Deliverable and Editing Cycle Management
Finally, one we can name. This application was built for us (and shared with other extended team members) to more easily meet our requirements under a consulting contract with the U.S. Navy. Unlike many of our engagements, this project didn't involve implementation or technical work. Contracted as subject matter experts in the field of collaboration, we provided industry, market, government, and comparative perspective and analysis along with a team of experts in other fields. This extended team meshed very well, worked together as a unit, and delivered analysis and reports (our deliverables) on time and in budget.
Early on, we concluded that consistent style, naming conventions, acronym, and language use were going to be a challenge with a distributed team. We also discovered that not everyone on the team was "a writer" - with many making departures from long periods of "doing" what we were experts in to "analyze" it. For this reason we decided that an editing process including a comment period, versioning, and three edit cycles was appropriate. What we designed encompassed 11 "phases" of the document lifecycle, from initial draft to final deliverable with the appropriate cover letter for the ultimate customer at the Pentagon.
With nearly 100 deliverable documents form the various parties, the math is easy. 1,100 combinations of document+phase to be managed. So, we designed an application to manage the whole process. Each document got a placeholder, and assigned a primary author. When the author was ready to submit the first draft, they simply attached it, chose the team members they wanted comments from, and clicked a checkbox "Move to Phase 2". Appropriate emails got sent, team members jumped in and reviewed (or didn't, that was their choice), and the author decided when to move it forward to the editor for a first pass. While preserving all versions of the deliverable document, it passed through several phases with different actions and emails happening at each stage in the process until, the day before the project was due, all of them were at Phase 11. Of course we also built views of the data to make it easier to manage - by author, by phase, and by deliverable number.
When all was finished, we used the Quickr Connectors for Windows Explorer in a Windows VM to copy and paste the well-ordered and named deliverables, their cover pages, and supporting documents to a local drive, and burned the requisite CD to hand off to our client. It was with pride that our team, and the other 10 or so on the core distributed team, presented the final product on the actual due date. Without our deliverable management process - and without the services of an incredible editor - we'd likely still be writing, emailing around drafts, and requesting extensions.
For more information about SNAPPS projects and how we can assist you with strategy, education or development, please contact us!