Insomniac isn’t your typical company—it encompasses live entertainment, a record label, and multiple clothing brands. To say project management and attention to detail are important at Insomniac would be an understatement. Yet, like so many other companies in the world, COVID-19 meant that Insomniac had to quickly shift priorities across almost every aspect of the business—especially their in-person concert series.
Enter David Joe (DJ), Head of Marketing, Anthony Smith, Executive Producer, and Nick Monge, Project Manager of video production and media. This trio of Insomniacs from three disparate parts of the company use Asana to coordinate projects in nearly every facet of the business—including the massive shift from live, in-person events to a robust virtual concert offering. They were part of the selection process to find a new tool that could unify the company and help everyone work together more efficiently.
DJ, who has worked at Insomniac since 2018, and Anthony, who has worked with Insomniac since 2011, both cut their teeth in the entertainment industry while managing a club in Los Angeles, CA. They know the industry inside and out and developed a relationship with Insomniac after the company partnered with their club for an event nearly a decade ago.
When DJ and Anthony first started working with Insomniac, their job was to look at the company—top down—and find inefficiencies they could help fix. One of the first spots they noticed for improvement was project management, particularly how teams coordinated with each other. Managing a club with tens of people—or even a few dozen—for one night is drastically different than managing and planning a multi-day music festival, for instance. There are tons of moving parts and people involved, from picking and preparing the event space to day-of coordination. Since so many people had joined Insomniac from the club world, the entire organization needed to rethink the way they managed projects.
“We hit a point where we needed our tools to mature as much as we had,” said Nick, who has been with Insomniac since 2013. “We needed everybody, all together, in one living, breathing system, and to all start working in unison.”
Although each team had their own processes and ways of managing projects—from docs and spreadsheets to clipboards with paper printouts—such a hodge-podge of solutions was leading to dropped balls, miscommunication across teams, and siloed information. These problems were especially evident the larger projects grew.
“I don't have time to be everywhere and talk to everybody when I'm working on a project with a thousand parts,” said Anthony.
To get everyone across the company working together, Insomniac needed a tool that could handle massive projects—like multi-day festivals—and accommodate the needs of many departments, like production, finance, talent, and marketing.
When Anthony and DJ started to explore project management solutions, they found that many tools had limitations that didn’t allow Insomniac to truly connect all teams cohesively across the company. They needed a tool that could keep everyone organized and in sync, no matter the team and project. Plus, they wanted something that was visually appealing and intuitive to use. That’s when they found Asana.
By allowing people to organize tasks in multiple projects, Asana gave Insomniac a fully cohesive experience between teams. Asana allowed them to keep every project up to date and every stakeholder in the loop without constant pings and email updates. The Timeline feature was also crucial for event planning and execution, ensuring due dates lined up properly. Plus, comments and subtasks were a big hit at Insomniac. Tasks for specific deliverables and items could be assigned to specific team members, while every detail remained organized and easy to find.
They also found Asana to be visually appealing and that it worked well with creatives.
“We’re an entertainment company, a record label, and one of the biggest streaming entities for music worldwide. We have multiple clothing and fashion brands. We are very much a creative company and we need tools that work well with that and are also beautiful to use.”
— Anthony Smith, Executive Producer
When DJ and Anthony were ready to show Asana to Insomniac’s CEO, he loved what they had found and was ready for the company to go all-in on the tool.
“We made our case and specced everything out,” said Anthony of the process. “We did a really deep dive on Asana’s functionality, we knew what we were going to do with the tool, and had full buy-in at the top to make it happen.”
Although Anthony and DJ received the CEO’s blessing with Asana, they wanted to ensure a smooth rollout and company-wide adoption. To do so, they started by going to the head of every department—from marketing to finance and everyone in between—to build support for Asana.
Because Asana would solve a major problem in the organization—inefficient processes and project management—the department heads listened to DJ and Anthony, trusted them, and enthusiastically brought their own teams on board. To ensure people fully integrated Asana into their daily workflows, DJ, Anthony, and Nick had a plan to train everyone on Asana best practices. Then COVID-19 hit the world.
Not only was the first Asana training session done remotely due to the pandemic, but Insomniac was also in the midst of pivoting their business from in-person events to livestreams. Luckily, they’d already started rolling out Asana and people were beginning to use their new tool.
“We flipped our entire company's business model from live, in-person events to live streaming in one month,” said DJ. “Honestly, without Asana's help, we probably wouldn’t have gotten to this point. Asana was critical in the initial phases of that huge pivot.”
In a time when many people feel isolated and alone, Insomniac sees even more meaning in the live streams. Since switching their model, they’ve gotten tons of feedback on how much joy and connection they have brought to their fans.
Now that Asana is in place, the benefits have been enormous—beyond their transition from in-person to live streamed events.
“The shutdown our industry experienced due to COVID forced us to move everything online while finding a way to keep our employees connected and on track from a distance. Asana allowed us to do just that, solving many of our workflow and logistical issues. The timing of our relationship with Asana was key, and after being able to quickly onboard the team, it became the backbone for what we were doing.”
— Pasquale Rotella, Insomniac CEO / Founder.
Thanks to Asana, Anthony immediately knows which projects are on track or off track, and who to talk to if he needs more information. Since the events they host are extremely date dependent, Timeline helps them keep work running smoothly and on time.
Before Asana, Nick had to ask each designer every day for the status of their work, and now he can go find the status of the project himself in Asana. Managers can look at a project and have confidence that they are on track without having to micromanage their team. Plus, Insomniac’s internal email usage has plummeted since most of that communication is now done in Asana.
“What we've done with Asana is bring project management to a higher level at the company, where all the business functions are now happening inside of it,” said Nick. “Having everything centralized has been a key improvement for us.”
When the world opens back up Insomniac plans to shift their business back to live, in-person events and festivals. Although there’s a lot of uncertainty about how the world will look post-COVID, one thing is certain—the team at Insomniac will create Asana templates and frameworks for yet another enormous pivot in their business.
After the transition back to in-person events, the next evolution for the company will be using Asana during live events and festivals. Anthony sees a future where project managers walk around events with tablets checking off Asana tasks as they go through the app, rather than the traditional paper on clipboard. With so much Asana in their future, they see adoption of the tool as a high priority for setting Insomniac up for success.
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