MLB.com hits homerun with collaboration and workflows

Four years ago, producers at Major League Baseball's website, MLB.com, picked up the pace of content publishing: Instead of posting player and team statistics at the end of each baseball game, producers began pushing these updates to the website in real-time.

While this new feature was a big win for MLB.com's audience, it caused some major workflow headaches behind the scenes.

"When our pace got faster and faster, there were endless chains of emails and duplication of work. Things were getting lost in translation," says Rob Boysko, manager of multimedia publishing at MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), which publishes news, schedules, standings, statistics, and live audio and video game broadcasts for subscribers.

For example, communication among the publishing, production and floor production divisions was done almost exclusively through email. "If either the floor or production had a clip that was ready to be processed for the site, they'd email publishing and tell them where it was within our system to be processed and how it needed to be processed," Boysko says. "Then publishing would email back saying the clip had been processed."

To alleviate the influx of email and confusion over workflow, Boysko began looking for a platform that would encourage collaboration and simplify the workflow plan they had in place.

Boysko's search turned up Central Desktop's Workgroup Edition, a free collaboration platform for his group of 10 to 15 employees. He and his team used this version to keep track of the links they needed to update the MLB.com club sites-a significant change from the constantly crashing spreadsheets they used before.

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In 2011, several months after adopting the Workgroup Edition, Boysko decided to extend the tool to the publishing, production and floor production divisions that they worked closely with. Upgrading to Central Desktop's Enterprise Edition also gave them access to additional features, such as databases and workflows, he says.

To capitalize on the workflow feature, they set up an intranet as a central location for the departments to access common materials, such as daily content budgets and shared calendars, as well as shared spaces, where members could collaborate on major projects, such as 2011 Gamenight.

The workflow functionality, in particular, helped reduce email overload: When the production group changed the status of a video, for example, it triggered an alert to the publishing department to post the clip on MLB.com, eliminating the need for email back-and-forths.

Boysko says that deploying this platform was seamless, and employees readily adopted the new software. "We have some users that are more hardcore than others, but people were really receptive," he says. "Email is becoming more disposable, but if people still want to receive emails, they can-it's up to them what and how much they receive."

To date, Boysko says there are more than 200 people using the Central Desktop platform to better manage workflows and collaborate. He estimates that internal email has been reduced by 60% to 70%.

"For us this has been a really good addition," he says. "Whatever your workflow is that you need to streamline, you can always do it better through software like this."

Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking and enterprise collaboration for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at kburnham@cio.com

Read more about business process management (bpm) in CIO's Business Process Management (BPM) Drilldown.

This story, "MLB.com hits homerun with collaboration and workflows" was originally published by CIO.

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