3 tips to drive operational excellence from T-Mobile's PMO

6 Februari 2024
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Operations teams face unique challenges when it comes to collaborating cross-functionally. Amanda Howell, the Director, Portfolio Management & PMO, Internet, at T-Mobile, saw this firsthand when managing programs like the launch of T-Mobile’s High Speed Internet.

We recently sat down with Amanda to get her strategies for leveraging Asana’s work management platform to drive operational efficiencies, work smarter, and ultimately, achieve goals.

Driving operational excellence with T-Mobile’s PMO

Hear from Amanda Howell, Director, Portfolio Management & PMO, Internet at T-Mobile, on how her team uses Asana to improve efficiency, increase business agility, and drive value.

Watch the webinar
Banner image featuring T-Mobile's PMO Amanda Howell and the Asana Forward logo

3 key challenges facing operations teams

It’s no secret that operations teams often run into challenges that hinder their efficiency, especially when working across teams. These snags can make it difficult to drive clarity, maximize business impact, and scale work with confidence. 

Let’s dive into Amanda’s journey and take a look at the three top challenges she ran into during T-Mobile’s cross-functional launch:

  1. Lack of consistency and standardization: Different functions often have their own ideas of what “organization” looks like, including their own processes and tools. While this might work within individual teams, it doesn’t scale when working cross-functionally—and often leads to inconsistent work. 

  2. Informational silos: When members of a cross-functional team work independently, they inadvertently form information silos. This disconnect can lead to missed deadlines, delays, and friction between team members.

  3. Difficulty responding to changing business priorities. Company priorities are always shifting. Without a centralized project repository or real-time reporting, it's difficult to get a high-level overview of information across platforms. This makes it challenging to move quickly and adapt to evolving priorities.

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Overall, our challenges impacted our ability to inform leadership on the source of truth around our portfolios. We needed Asana to implement new processes to transform our ability to scale at the level that we needed to support the business. ”
Amanda Howell, Director, Portfolio Mgmt & PMO, Internet at T-Mobile

3 tips to combat cross-functional challenges and drive operational efficiency

As part of T-Mobile’s launch, Amanda and her team were tasked with working cross-functionally to ensure the successful rollout of High Speed Internet to millions of customers nationwide. Here are three ways they leveraged Asana to achieve that goal. 

1. Standardize end-to-end processes with templates

T-Mobile key takeaway 

Standardization is at the heart of operational efficiency. By developing templates for recurring initiatives—like go-to-market and launch day support processes—Amanda’s team was able to ensure key milestones and tasks were consistent across initiatives.

Launching a project without an established process is like setting sail without a compass—you’ll move, but you won’t necessarily go in the right direction. For Amanda’s team at T-Mobile, the answer to ambiguity was Asana’s project templates. Here’s how you can standardize your processes like they did. 

Start with a “skeleton” template

Templates serve as your project’s back bone, creating needed structure that leads to consistent work. Amanda’s team began by identifying common recurring project types, such as their go-to-market initiatives. They then built templates that served as “skeleton workflows” for these types of projects. 

Customize to fit, but keep the core intact

To make sure their templates fit every workflow, Amanda’s team leaned into the flexibility of templates. By customizing the “skeleton” template for each new initiative, they were able to meet their specific project requirements, while keeping core project components—the key milestones and tasks that scale across each project–consistent. 

Dive into work without delays 

With a standardized process in place, Amanda’s team was able to kick off work without delay, reducing duplicative work and effort. Rather than starting from scratch each time they started a new project, they were able to dive straight into the work that mattered. 

2. Spot blockers before they happen with smart tooling 

T-Mobile key takeaway

Amanda’s team took advantage of Asana features like task dependencies, custom fields, and integrations to gain visibility into their tasks—allowing them to proactively address blockers and streamline decision-making across teams.

Operational efficiency isn’t just about streamlining processes to get tasks done—it’s about anticipating and addressing project issues before they become significant problems. For Amanda’s team, this meant using Asana’s features to connect tasks and projects, so they could spot (and squash) blockers before they occurred.

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Priorities are always going to be changing based on the business needs. We used Asana to more quickly pivot teams to the right priorities and reduce the amount of delay on context switching. ”
Amanda Howell, Director, Portfolio Mgmt & PMO, Internet at T-Mobile

Use dependencies to map out your project

Dependencies—tasks that can’t be started until another is completed—are critical for projects that involve multiple teams and moving parts. Amanda’s team used task dependencies to visualize how each task was connected and identify bottlenecks in real time. Doing so enabled them to set expectations, clarify responsibilities, and quickly pinpoint what work was hindering other tasks—before it became a major blocker. 

Go beyond the basics with custom fields

Amanda’s team created custom fields like “priority” and “stage of work” to give them at-a-glance visibility into exactly where each task stood. Then, they took this customization even further by creating a “risk and issues” field that notified managers of at-risk work that needed attention,  making it easier to proactively address blockers—or know when to raise them to senior leadership. 

Take advantage of integrations

During high-stakes moments like product launches, integrations were a game-changer for Amanda’s team. By taking advantage of the Asana + Jira integration, Amanda’s team was able to log real-time issues, prioritize them, and link them to Jira tickets—all without leaving Asana. By eliminating the need to toggle between platforms, Amanda’s team was able to make quicker, more coordinated decisions and resolve issues faster. 

3. Customize your tracking for better impact 

T-Mobile key takeaway

By utilizing Asana’s portfolio views and custom fields, Amanda’s team achieved a new level of visibility into their projects—enabling leadership to make smarter resourcing decisions, adapt to changing priorities, and ensure their team focused on the most impactful work.

How you track and report on tasks can make or break your project’s success. Amanda’s team elevated their tracking and reporting game to ensure visibility and informed decision-making. 

Keep leaders in the loop with real-time views

By taking advantage of Asana’s portfolio view, Amanda’s team was able to give leaders a real-time view of all projects in flight. With a single click, leaders could see project health and status, giving them the visibility needed to make informed decisions around resourcing and prioritization—without getting lost in the weeds of each individual project.  

Stay on the same page with weekly updates

Amanda’s team also leveraged Asana’s high-level portfolio view to send out status updates on a weekly basis. These updates gave leadership the basic information they needed on each initiative—like work status, upcoming milestones, and potential blockers—and gave them the option to dive deeper into each project for more granular insights.

Assign each project a priority for smarter resourcing

For each project in their portfolio, Amanda’s team created a custom field labeled “priorities” in order to help everyone—team members and stakeholders—understand how important each initiative is in comparison to the others. This visibility gave leadership the information needed to make resourcing decisions and account for shifting priorities, especially when roadmapping and adding new projects. 

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I’m a huge fan of Asana, and my team’s job would not be the same without it. ”
Amanda Howell, Director, Portfolio Mgmt & PMO, Internet at T-Mobile

Watch the webinar

Ready for strategies you can put into action? Watch our webinar to see the real-life steps Amanda and her team at T-Mobile took when using Asana to transform their processes and overcome the challenges of cross-functional collaboration.

Driving operational excellence with T-Mobile’s PMO

Hear from Amanda Howell, Director, Portfolio Management & PMO, Internet at T-Mobile, on how her team uses Asana to improve efficiency, increase business agility, and drive value.

Banner image featuring T-Mobile's PMO Amanda Howell and the Asana Forward logo

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Templates for Operations teams