I was a leader at Simantel, a marketing agency known for deep research, award-winning creative campaigns, and thoughtful communication strategies. However, in 2014, clients demanded that the agency expand its capabilities to include digital marketing strategy and technology development. Failing to do so would weaken the company’s competitive advantage and result in revenue loss. On the other hand, embracing this change would open new revenue streams, solidify its competitive advantage, and improve operations and cost-efficiency.
To achieve this, an agency-wide digital transformation was necessary. This required expanding the workforce, retraining existing employees, and reimagining the operations model, processes, technology, and team structure.
This transformation included the following components:
- Developing transformation plan to improve workflow and collaboration across the agency
- Creating a company-wide strategic toolkit to ensure consistent, high-quality work in a cost-effective manner
- Creating a company intranet site to enable knowledge sharing and communication
Developing transformation plan to improve workflow and collaboration across the agency
The agency produced top-notch work, but faced challenges due to the increasingly complex nature of the tasks assigned to teams. This led to workflow, collaboration, and communication issues that impacted efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
- There was no shared understanding of how work should be approached. Each team approached work differently.
- The organizational structure was not well-defined, leading to confusion about who had decision-making authority within project teams
I worked with executive team members and agency leaders to develop and implement a transformation plan across the agency.
- Prepared business case for effort for executive team, outlining the cost of the status quo
- Delivered as-is business process map, which identified waste, redundancy, and challenges
- Conducted fishbone analysis to uncover root causes for challenges
This plan included to-be process map, guidance manual, new templates, team model, and technology plan.
- Conducted readiness assessment
- Delivered and executed internal communication plan
- Delivered and executed learning and training plan
- Completed training across all departments to increase understanding of change and specifics about how to change
- Implemented new technologies to support better collaboration and communication.
- Updated project management and financial management technologies to align with new processes.
This company-wide process improvement initiative had high adoption rates. As a result, the agency experienced:
- Better workflow and collaboration
- Shared understanding of processes
- Greater consideration of downstream impacts
- The ability to refocus time and energy on work output and innovation
- A new framework for project management that included a transparent process for decision-making
Creating a company-wide strategic toolkit to ensure consistent, high-quality work in a cost-effective manner
During this time, corporate digital marketing strategies were becoming increasingly complex as the industry learned how to use new digital technologies, and new technologies emerged constantly. The agency needed to deliver high-quality, customized digital strategies to large organizations with diverse client bases and industries. Using cookie-cutter approaches that did not incorporate new digital technologies would lead to mundane marketing, flat results, and potentially losing clients. However, in the face of this change, the agency experienced challenges with strategy quality, consistency, and translating strategy into action.
- Strategic deliverables were inconsistent from one project to another. Strategic process varied widely.
- Strategies lacked the granularity and detail needed for implementation team members. Consequently, additional time and resources were often needed to bring team members up to speed.
- The inconsistency in approach, process, and deliverables made it difficult to develop and manage time, resources, and budget, which negatively impacted project profitability.
I developed a strategic framework and toolkit that includes an integrated suite of standard tools and templates, as well as guidance on how to use them. This enabled the team to: use a flexible framework that can be adapted to various scenarios, consistently produce high-quality work products, and close the gap between strategy and execution.
Strategy Plan Template
Modular template which provides framework for outlining integrated marketing strategies. Components include:
- Situational Overview
- Business & Marketing Goals
- Audiences & Goals
- Creative Strategy
- Brand Strategy
- Messaging Strategy
- Content Strategy
- Channel Strategy (Media, website, MA, social, etc.)
- Measurement Strategy
Tactical Planning Templates
Set of functional planning templates that decompose strategic ideas into smaller pieces. Especially useful for execution team members that require specific direction.
Examples: Business, functional, technical requirements, use cases, task analysis, content inventory, content audits, event tagging, form strategy, messaging matrix, etc.
Visual Design Templates
Collection of design templates used to visualize strategic and tactical elements. Includes:
- Wireframes (lo-fi, hi-fi)
- Task map
- User flows
- Experience maps
Provides a framework for strategic planning. Includes direction on how to:
- Complete Strategy Plan and other tactical planning templates.
- How to manage the ideation and execution process.
- Uncover and prioritize marketing needs.
- How to select and plan strategic elements that meet business and user needs.
Tools & Techniques
Many tools are used in the strategic process to build presentations and visuals. This folder includes collection of:
- Tutorials for using tools (OmniGraffle, Sketch, Adobe Experience Design, etc.)
- Techniques and best practices for visualizing UX/ UI designs and/or prototyping; established visual vocabulary
Folder which includes collection of previous deliverables to be used for ideas and inspiration.
- Efficiency gains in the development of strategic plans and processes
- Smoother hand-off between strategic teams and execution teams
- Consistency across accounts in approach and work product
- Common understanding of strategic outputs and the time involved
Creating a company intranet site to enable knowledge sharing and communication
Due to rapid growth in the workforce, the company faced several internal communication challenges:
- Lack of a dedicated, secure internal channel for communication and collaboration.
- No platform or formal process for sharing knowledge or dispersing educational and training materials.
- Critical information was informally shared via emails, meetings, and individual conversations, but not always communicated more broadly.
- These challenges negatively impacted the on-boarding of new employees and disadvantaged the remote workforce.
- I established secure, digital knowledgebase to serve as a critical internal channel for communications
- I developed a comprehensive plan to expand the capacity of the knowledgebase and create a more interactive experience
- Improved communication
- Increased collective intelligence
- Reinforce company vision and culture
- Facilitate idea sharing; collect employee feedback
- Brought remote team closer