As CEO of kidthing, a start-up entertainment technology company, Larry Hitchcock was facing a dilemma.
It was already 8:30 AM, and Larry needed vital information from his team before an 11:00 AM conference call. And, like most days, he was rushing from one meeting to another, with only ten minutes or so free to make it happen. But despite having to reach ten different people working out of five locations to confirm they all had a common understanding of the issues - and secure their recommendations and agreement in order to finalize a plan - Larry wasn't stressed. He had a secret weapon which would enable him to take five minutes now and guarantee that he get the information needed before the call, without having to chase the answers down.
Based in Los Angeles, kidthing is a kids' digital media technology platform. Or as Hitchcock puts it, kidthing is "like iTunes for children's literature, games, video and personal media." Working with some of the world's leading publishers, media companies and content creators, kidthing provides a secure place on the web for kids and their parents to purchase a wide variety of fun and entertaining learning content.
Like most creative, high-tech companies, kidthing is comprised of a number of business groups and diverse disciplines such as engineers, product managers, artists and animators, writers, sales and marketing, and other roles – each with their own "language" and way of working. Complicate this with an array of technologies not specifically designed to go together – such as client servers, streaming media players, encryption and secure web-based transactional e-commerce mechanisms – and it's easy to see how challenging it would be to keep track of all the moving parts.
"Prior to adopting Qtask, we were using the typical tools and methods of collaborating – emails, attached files, FTP accounts – but each subgroup also had their own system of tracking their projects. It wasn't unified and things were very dispersed across the organization," stated Hitchcock.
With no sort of integrated or "communal" way for these groups to interact and work together, Hitchcock found that everyone was doing their own thing, which meant that much of the company's communication processes were dispersed and needed to be more streamlined. "Qtask provided us with a viable and powerful way to integrate all those processes and discussions in one easy-to-track place, and as a result we were getting things done efficiently," he added.
"As CEO, it has been difficult to have visibility across all the dispersed groups using the traditional tools", said Hitchcock. "Qtask provides an invaluable amount of visibility into the ongoing activities and working process of the company. In a very short amount of time I can review the company's working activities and real time discussions about tasks and important company business. I can literally see the company working. That's my favorite aspect of working with Qtask."
Getting started with Qtask is relatively quick and easy. It requires no customization, no implementation time and no resources to maintain. More importantly it requires no installation help from IT, so new users are up and running within minutes after being invited to a project.
Added Hitchcock, "For those who have previously used project management, knowledge database and PPM software applications, getting up to speed in Qtask was a snap. But for some of the team, it was a little bit of a challenge at first. They weren't accustomed to that type of documenting tasks and the overall participatory nature of the environment, so their migration was a bit more gradual. However, Qtask is a great platform for sharing and capturing discussions, so now it is almost fully adopted throughout kidthing."
"As it generally is with most companies, every task feels like a priority. Having an environment such as Qtask, which transparently shows how coworkers are doing with the tasks they've agreed to be accountable on, just streamlines our ability to accomplish the work we need to achieve," he continued.
One significant project where Qtask proved its value was early in the development of the kidthing downloadable client. Before embarking on a phase of development, the team performed a review of every task – creating a list of task descriptions, projected time requirements and priorities encountered in the prior phase. Qtask not only helped to clarify and document each task, it facilitated agreement upon each description and time requirement. More importantly, it captured knowledge of the actual time each task took, providing reality to workflow projections. The whole post-mortem process was completed in two days, highlighting potential bottlenecks, efficiencies and priorities for the next phase through actual, objective information.
"We're able to work through process development, record and publish the process through wikis, and get new people up to speed instantly," said Hitchcock. "Qtask allowed us to accomplish in 90 days what would otherwise have taken six months. That is the most valuable thing that Qtask has done for kidthing."
"There's no way I would go back to the way we did things prior to introducing Qtask, because it meant more than 500 emails a day and no way to filter or parse out what's really important. I wouldn't be able to see all that I can with Qtask – much less from anywhere. With Qtask's browser and mobile phone compatibility, I can access it from anywhere and see what's happening at all times."
For more information about kidthing, please visit www.kidthing.com.