Border States, a wholesale distributor providing supply chain solutions for construction, industrial, and utility markets, and one of the largest 100% employee-owned companies in the United States, focuses on delivering total satisfaction to both customers and employee-owners. The Creative Services team plays a critical role in driving toward that mission. As Emily Karkoska, Creative Services Traffic Coordinator, explained, “Our mission statement is to provide value to our customers through innovative products and supply chain solutions. Creative Services works to maintain the integrity of Border State’s brand through the management of our visual identity and by ensuring consistency across the whole company, including our corporate office and all of our branch locations throughout the country.”
To effectively drive the mission forward, the Creative Services team at Border States realized they needed a better platform for managing content production. Specifically, they were looking for a cloud-based platform that would provide:
- Transparency and easier collaboration with stakeholders and employee-owners
- Reporting to demonstrate the impact the creative team has on organizational objectives
- Seamless communication among team members
Making the Switch to ignite
When Border States chose inMotion ignite, they were excited to switch to a cloud-based platform that was easy to implement and intuitive to use. ignite has made the biggest impact on their process in two key areas:
inMotion ignite made the biggest impact on the team’s proofing process. First, proof routing with tiers, groups, multiple file types, and optional reviewers increased the precision of the proofing process and easily ensured the right people provided feedback. As Emily pointed out, having more capacity and organization is critical, “We were so excited about the ability to proof multiple assets on a single proof. The system is built to accommodate our reality, which is that many projects don’t have a single deliverable.”
This more precise proofing process has delivered measurable results. Now the team completes each proof in an average of 1.4 versions, over the course of 1.1 business days. Carla Isom, Writer, summed it all up, “Things move fast around here.”
The Border States team has been able to achieve these outcomes by increasing the visibility of the proofing process for their stakeholders. Mandi Wahl, Digital Designer, described how they obtained more stakeholder engagement, “A lot of reviewers that would never have given feedback in the old system are now jumping in and leaving a comment because it is so easy for them. It also means we get better feedback that is clear and actionable.” Carla added that this has also translated to a better partnership with stakeholders, “Having our stakeholders more involved has, in a way, made our team bigger. It changes the dynamic and gives stakeholders a sense of ownership over their projects, so they want to be proactively involved.”
More Effective Resource Management
As is the case with many creative teams, the Border States team supports a relatively large group of stakeholders compared to their team size. This means they need their processes to be efficient and their creative resources managed effectively. “The resource management features in ignite help us maintain a balance between short-term deadlines and long-term scalability. We can accomplish short-term goals with an eye to achieving long-term desired outcomes for the business,” Emily explained.
By utilizing the resource management features in ignite, the Border States team has been able to focus on answering three important questions:
- How long should a project take?
- Who should be assigned to the project?
- How do we set expectations with stakeholders?
When it comes to knowing how long a given project or campaign should take, the Border States team can now review the data and refine their estimates on future work based on similar past work. Emily described how features like Scheduling and Level of Effort (LOE) have helped her better understand how to distribute work, “Scheduling and LOE have helped with traffic coordination. They’ve helped me realize where my estimations have been off on how long things should take, so now I can be more mindful about how many tasks or proofs I’m putting on each person’s plate, and if that is a realistic amount of work to assign in that amount of time.”
Knowing how much work to assign is important, but even more critical is knowing who that work should be assigned to. By managing all their projects in ignite, Emily has been able to recognize areas that each team member specializes in and assign work more intelligently. “I’m also able to be strategic in who I assign work to. This adds another layer of efficiency and keeps everyone excited about what they are working on.”
Helping stakeholders understand what to expect from the team is critical to building partnerships. By using ignite, the Border States team has been able to identify how much lead time they need on requests based on project type, enforce that lead time, and set stakeholder expectations. As Emily explained “In a typical month, up to 18% of our projects will be rush projects. In order to break our lead time requirements and be a rush project, the requesting stakeholder has to explain why they need a rush project. This opens up a dialogue, and helps the creative team seem like less of an enigma. Stakeholders better understand our process and needs and why we have certain requirements in place. This has allowed us to shift our relationship towards a strategic partnership.”
Driving Value Across the Company
For Emily, Carla, and Mandi, the goal of delivering value to Border States’ customers is always top of mind. They know that the work their creative team produces directly impacts stakeholders across the organization, including employee-owners. Now, with the help of inMotion ignite, they are able to consistently deliver the best possible content outcomes. Carla summed it up, “The creative team has an especially large ripple effect outward to the whole company. We bring the focus on brand excellence, design, and style that promotes and supports positive brand recognition. Our creative content reinforces the authenticity of our brand and the excellent customer service employee-owners expect from us.”