Our world is changing faster than ever before – change that is perhaps most apparent in our youngest generations. From retail to transportation and every industry in between, millennials, and increasingly Generation Z, are changing the game as consumers.
For companies responsible for crafting experiences that resonate with these younger generations, understanding and staying one step ahead of their expectations is an important strategy in connecting with this powerful segment of our society. While it’s easy to see how these expectations play out in consumer scenarios, understanding how to translate those same expectations into the educational world is something that Blackboard, Inc. has mastered.
New Client Solutions Require New Ways to Work
Blackboard has been trusted by educators for over two decades as a partner in exactly this type of change. They work tirelessly with their clients to help learners, educators, institutions, and companies thrive in today’s complex, changing digital environment.
A brilliant example of Blackboard’s innovation is their Transact team. The Blackboard Transact team delivers the company’s cashless campus system for students. They install the technology required for campuses to instantly connect via student cards for access to buildings, payment systems, and off-campus resources and meet the instant gratification expectations of students today.
The Transact team’s services have skyrocketed in demand over the past few years. Today, the team orchestrates over 50 campus implementations each summer. Increased demand brought about new problems to the implementation teams at a greater velocity than ever. “We were sending a lot of email back and forth, and working out of Excel documents that were really complicated and difficult to manage version control,” explains David Minutella, PMP, Senior Manager of Client Services for Blackboard Transact of the old way the team worked. With a growing client base, but the finite summer timeframe for implementations, it was time to reevaluate the Transact team’s approach to work management.
Turning Challenges Into Solutions
The growing number of clients shone a spotlight on challenges that came along with the Transact team’s old approach to managing work, and Minutella and team were able to pick out three specific challenges and opportunities for improvement.
Challenge #1: Varied technical skills. “Our clients range dramatically in their degree of IT abilities and resources,” says Minutella. Adopting a work management solution that was rigid or difficult to use was not an option.
Solution: Rather than adopt a custom solution for each client, or scramble to send updates via email, the Transact team prioritized finding a collaboration solution that would be intuitive to anyone – clients and field staff– that could be customized without writing a single line of code.
Challenge #2: The need for real-time information, all the time. The types of projects the Transact team oversees are the definition of multiple work streams taking place at once. “You need all the critical parties coming together at a very specific moment ‘this day at this time’, and you need to have access to the facilities, network data jacks activated, keys to equipment and device configuration for everything to happen successfully,” says Minutella. Not only do clients need access to this information, but so do internal teams and vendors.
Solution: The Transact team built out a solution that would allow everyone involved access to work at anytime. “Living timelines” give clients instant visibility into their projects, whenever they need it.
Challenge #3: Growing field staff means teams are always in motion. The Transact team’s increasing number of clients required more vendors on different sites, at the same time.
Solution: The Transact team built out their new timelines in a solution that allowed mobile access to the implementation timelines, so work could carry on seamlessly from shift to shift, campus to campus.
Smartsheet has helped the Blackboard Transact team address these challenges and more – while helping the team maintain their edge in their field. The expectations of students will continue to change, and with a flexible foundation to adjust and a framework for taking advantage of challenges, the Transact team will continue to keep one step ahead of the trends as a leader and trusted partner for educational institutions.
Problems Solved – and a Competitive Advantage Emerges
Blackboard Transact is attracting more clients than ever, increasing customer satisfaction, and business is booming. Blackboard Transact now has a new way of building relationships with clients, in addition to an improved approach to work management. The next time a problem feels prohibitive, look for ways to turn them on their heads so you too can not only survive, but thrive in the face of the unknown.
Not only is Blackboard changing the way they work with their clients and deliver technology solutions to the next generation, they are also saving thousands of hours each implementation season. Learn more in their recently published case study.