Case studies.

Organizational change

Saved 35% ongoing operating costs

The task and timeline

I helped a small company untangle an over-complicated organizational structure for their small size. We worked on getting clarity about who reported to whom and why, and what work they delivered. We didn't have a lot of time - a matter of weeks - to figure out the right go-forward structure, roles and staffing levels.

The net result was that job roles and tasks, as well as what each group in the organization was responsible and accountable for, became really clear.

How did it go?

The process of moving work between the groups became much smoother which also made it possible to take out a layer of management, saving over 35% in ongoing staff costs, who had been kept busy managing the previously unnecessary complexity.

Complex integration

Migrated 20m digital assets

Signed 4k contracts

Moved 2 historical archives

During my long career I have led a number of multi-national digital media content business integrations which are over at the most complex end of the operational spectrum – transforming and moving millions of digital assets from one business to another, contracting thousands of content creators, moving, cataloguing and consolidating physical archives in several countries, transitioning workflows, resources and hundreds of staff from one business to the other, and saving millions of dollars in operating costs.

As the Programme Manager for a complex integration, you are one of the key pivot points for a project that is multi-threaded, multi-disciplined, has many interdependencies within and external to both businesses - many components and moving parts – and complex timing, sequencing and deadlines. 

Lots of opportunity for things to go wrong.

The task

Migrate 20 million digital assets, including normalizing all metadata, keywords, and file formats to the new system requirements

Contract 4 thousand photographers and filmmakers in several languages to the new business entity using automation and a comprehensive communication plan

Move and consolidate two historical photographic archives to safe storage with ready access

Seamlessly transition all content creation workflows to the new business and draw-down or integrate staff and systems in sync

The timeline

Six months from acquisition to full integration

The budget 

Reduce ongoing operating costs by 80%

One of the most important things to learn about business integrations is that it’s never just as simple as “move this data over here” and “close that office” because systems and data architecture are never the same, local laws and regulations dictating how staff, contracts and financial information, for example, can transition are unique. All that has to be figured out up front, as much as possible, and the rest is done on the fly.

This project in particular was to fully integrate and draw-down a global company which had previously been a competitor. To make it more complex, we were working on behalf of a third party who had acquired the company and appointed our company as their sole content distributor and responsible to deliver the integration. I played a central leadership role planning, driving, coordinating and delivering every aspect of the integration for all the digital content creation and content management aspects of the core business.

How did it go?

We delivered on time, on task, and on budget. 

Of course we did. We were a great integration team made up of domain experts with strong project management and leadership skills representing each business function. Each of us on the team had been working together for years, getting more and more expert with each new integration project leveraging the strong networks and robust process steps we had built. We all did our part to plan ahead in a tightly coordinated way and triaged issues together so that we were on top of the overall plan and the detail at all times; all the while keeping our Executive Committee and key stakeholders in the loop with progress and key decisions.

Outsourcing at scale

Realigned workflow, resources, skills, and costs to meet deadlines

This project was a complex marketing campaign to stand up a new social media marketing channel. The creative agency briefed to do the concepts and execution found themselves on the back foot unable to cope with the volume of work. This was a totally new kind of brief which needed a different resourcing strategy, timetable and process from creation to delivery than any other project brief they had been given before. I joined the team when it was drowning in work and didn't yet know how they could deliver.

The task

Create a suite of evergreen, flexible, static and animated social media assets (digital files) in ten different sizes, 98 variations of the creative execution for two different platform specs, across six different products, and for three different marketing teams

The timeline

Have all digital files ready for launch in twelve weeks

How did it go?

I started by working out the total number of assets that were being asked to create - 1,326 all together - and built up a massive spreadsheet to audit and keep track of what state every single asset was in. Some of the work was already in flight, but the overall project scope and it's impact had not been understood within the agency or by the end clients until this point.

Then I worked out the internal agency staff WIP to figure out a timing plan for the total ask based on the resources currently available. Monopolizing all internal resources, it would have taken over eight months to deliver all the work, blocking all other projects until this work was done.

Finally, I pulled together all the elements - the tracking spreadsheet, the WIP estimates, and the timing plan - to be transparent with the frustrated end clients. The goal was to give them visibility to the total joint scope, reassure them that we were on top of it now, and to get their help figuring out the best solution for everyone.

The solution

A scalable outsourcing plan

Bringing together the data around resourcing needs, impacts to other work, and a cost comparison of internal costs vs. external outsourcing costs made it really easy to demonstrate why outsourcing was the right solution to hit the deadlines. 

We found suppliers who were able to rapidly scale up skilled people who could take our templated masters and produce all the variations. We worked out a new process to manage the movement of work between internal departments, the agency and the external supplier from origination to final approval. This kept creative control within the agency, freed up internal resource to support all other critical marketing briefs, and we hit the new deadlines agreed with the marketing teams.