We are happy to share a new Community Member Spotlight featuring Devon Marie Valastro. Devon has recently received a Community Black belt for her contributions provided on the Community page as well as helpful tips.
We’re also delighted that she shared her amazing insight about her work processes in this article.
Please comment below if you have any questions for Devon Marie.
Tell us a little about your industry and your role in your company.
Working in marketing for one of The Aliera Companies has given me an amazing opportunity to develop alongside the company. As the company continues to grow, so does my role. I am currently responsible for trafficking and version control of our product content across advertising, marketing, and tradeshow initiatives. I love it because I get to apply my extensive product knowledge and my passion for project management to drive my career growth in marketing and advertising.
What business functions do you/your team use Wrike for?
Wrike is an essential part of how we stay organized as a marketing team. We selected this tool because we were servicing over 10 different internal clients while managing a weekly project load of over 20 projects and 200 tasks. It was extremely apparent that we needed a way to organize our week in a digestible platform and Wrike has proven to be the best tool to do just that.
When it comes to building out projects from start to finish or collaborating with different team members, we use Wrike as our central project location. It has helped us meet our project deadlines and communicate more effectively as a team, which are the two major reasons we use Wrike today! Overall, our productivity has evolved exponentially with our workload. I honestly don’t know what we’d do without Wrike!
Before Wrike, how did you manage your work?
When I started at Aliera, I was the second person hired for the marketing department and shortly thereafter we became a team of three. In the beginning, I kept most of my active and future work in my head. However, as my position and job description grew, I developed a system to keep track of all of my work in order to be successful.
I kept three notebooks with me at all times. My first (and most important) notebook was home to all of my to-do lists which I would update before I left work every night, and re-review in the morning in case any priorities had shifted. The second notebook was my weekly calendar that had all of my deadlines and weekly priorities. Lastly, all of my meeting notes were taken by hand on a legal pad. I would go through about one legal pad every couple of weeks and then file it after, so if I ever had to go back and look at my old notes, they would be available.
Ten months and a couple of new team members later our amazing project manager, introduced the team (and eventually the company) to Wrike.
What is the top thing or process that keeps you super productive?
The top thing that makes me productive is my hyper-organization, both inside and outside of Wrike. My father is very type-A and organized, especially when it comes to his professional life, so I have him to thank for my regimented organizational systems.
I like to think about myself as Devon Valastro, Khaleesi, Breaker of Disorganized Chains and Mother of Content. While my official title is content coordinator, I specifically manage the product content across all departments and corporate initiatives. As Mother of Content, one of the organizational systems I put into place prior to Wrike was a proofing/approval process for product marketing collateral. When I was given an update or feedback to one of our product materials, I would apply the change to the document, and then take the document to the necessary approver. Once in the approver’s hands (literally), we would review the document together and either feedback would be provided or it would be approved. No matter the outcome, I would have the document signed & dated and then I would place it on top of the previous version and file it away. Eventually, I would begin to put any content changes in blue so I would know what changed from version to version. Fast forward a year and a half later, the marketing team still follows this method for proofing/approval of product materials except now we have tweaked the process to include Wrike. I still keep a printed copy of every version with the change in light blue and file it into a binder.
Through this process along with many others that have been put into place, I am able to achieve peak productivity when it comes to managing my projects. If not for the ability to be organized along with the support from Wrike, I would still be looking for what changed on X document six months ago and why. Wrike has taken the majority of organizational chains off of me and allowed me to focus on content instead of spending an hour+ organizing my files daily.
Tell us about the process/setup that you/your team created that you're most proud of?
I am most proud of my product launch process. I could easily talk for hours about how amazing this process is – not only for marketing but also for Aliera. This is one of the newer processes at the company, so there are still many minor adjustments to make to the project blueprint and request form.
Simply, the launch is broken up into three different parts: the request form, the project blueprint, and then the project structure.
The first step in launching a product is the completion of a request form. Right now, we have two people within the company who have the ability to create or launch a product. Those individuals meet with the product team and complete a request form focusing on: general information, plan design, operations design, sales force, product information, internal training, external training, fulfillment and web updates. When building the request form, I took our most comprehensive product and tried to think of every question I would have asked if we were building that product from scratch. This gave me enough content to go to the key stakeholders within every department and get their input to find out what they needed from this form, along with build the product launch template(s).
After the completion of the request form, the executive team, product team, and key stakeholders have a project kick-off meeting to discuss the information that we gathered via the request form and also the proposed product launch project. There are always minor adjustments to dates and timelines based on workloads, sell & effective dates and who the product is being created for, so we have found it is the best plan of action to go over all of the steps with as many people as possible at the beginning.
No matter what blueprint is being used for a product launch there are always the same six folders which will hold all of the tasks:
! Product Information !
[Phase A] Product Materials
[Phase B] Operational Build
[Phase C] Training Materials
[Phase D] Marketing & Web Updates
[Phase E] Product Launch
This structure enables a collaborative launch between the various departments. When building the blueprint, I made sure to give almost every task a predecessor/dependency, because there is so much hand-off. For instance, one of the designers builds the member ID card for print, I then create an electronic ID card, and someone on the operations team updates the member portal with the electronic ID card. To ensure proper hand-off, the tasks that have clear dependencies are all numbered within Phase A & B. Phases C-E do not have structured waterfall dependencies, so they do not have numbered tasks. Just like any other project, every task has the necessary workflow to ensure task success. Creating a print ID card is going to have a different workflow than the electronic ID card because different people are needed to give approval.
There are so many different parts that go into a product launch and Wrike ensures that nothing gets lost in the shuffle and that we are meeting all of our deadlines.
If someone was thinking about using Wrike for their business, and they ask for your advice, what would you say?
I would tell them that if they are looking to grow their business and employee productivity, Wrike is the best place to start. Employees will get as much out of Wrike as they put in. If your team is using Wrike in a lax fashion and that is working for you, then great! However, to reap the maximum benefits out of Wrike, you have to lay the foundation by aligning your company’s needs with Wrike’s capabilities. It really helped us to take the proper amount of time to get our workspace and processes setup properly within Wrike before rolling it out to other departments. While it is time-consuming to build templates (Blueprints) and request forms, it will save so much time once the proper processes are in place.
Learn as much as you can about Wrike! Watch all of the past webinars and register for the upcoming ones, I promise they are all worth it. I got so much inspiration through Wrike’s webinars and was genuinely excited when I saw that there were new webinars available. Major shout-out to Artem Gurnov, Wrike’s Customer Success Manager who presents the majority of webinars. Artem has helped me so much, answered all of the many questions I asked during webinars and was always super helpful. However, Artem is not the only person at Wrike who has made our experience with Wrike amazing.
Our Customer Success Manager, Connor, and Account Manager, Kyle, have been instrumental in our Wrike success. Both Kyle & Connor have been on tons of calls with the marketing team to brainstorm ideas and collaborate with us to work through our challenges and build a cohesive & amazing workspace. To say they have gone above and beyond for us is an understatement. The whole Wrike team has demonstrated nothing but excellence when it comes to customer support and happiness.
Though Wrike was originally intended for only the marketing team, the other corporate departments saw the increase in project success and expressed their need for Wrike as well. Wrike is the most effective for your department when all necessary parties can connect through it. Within a project, the more teams that are onboard and using Wrike, the more seamlessly a project will flow.
What value do you get out of Wrike's Community forums?
I love the fact that Wrike provides a forum for all of its users to connect and collaborate. The value of the Wrike Community is inexplicable. I have asked so many questions within the community and have never failed to receive to find a solution to my problem. I think the more that you put into the community, the more you will get out of it.
I have found so much inspiration via the community, especially when I first started building within Wrike. The community section is really set up to ensure success.
Last (and fun) question: If you had to be a Wrike feature which would you be and why?
Hmm…I think I am the Gantt Chart. Like a Gantt Chart, I am extremely organized and always know what my next task is.