Affirming Innovation at Scale

Dell Technologies saves administrators and reviewers hundreds of hours by using Submittable for its Proven Professional Knowledge Sharing program.

Dell Technologies offers award-winning technical training focused on new and emerging technologies. The Proven Professional program covers an extensive suite of education services including over 60 certification paths. 

Begun in 2006, the Knowledge Sharing program invites Dell-certified Proven Professionals to submit articles that demonstrate their technical knowledge, expertise, and thought leadership. Selected authors are acknowledged at an annual awards ceremony during Dell Technologies World.

Before Submittable, Dell Technologies ran their Proven Professional Knowledge Sharing program using three distinct tools (one for submissions, one for judging, and one for capturing judges’ feedback) as well as multiple tracking spreadsheets. Submittable centralized all these tools and processes, helping to automate anonymous review. The author details are hidden from all participants until after the end of the competition and winners have been selected. Submittable was also the ideal solution for accepting abstract applications and providing a platform for capturing panel feedback as part of the Enterprise Architect certification path.

When we accepted submissions over email, each entry had to be reviewed to ensure demographic information was not included. All our judging is done blindly, so anonymous review is a key feature with Submittable that we absolutely love. It’s a huge win for us. We are now able to invite judges to use this same platform to provide feedback while ensuring they see only the data they should. 

Deb Graci

Senior Advisor, Dell Technologies

A smooth transition

In 2016, the Dell team began to look at ways to automate many of the manual processes related to this annual Knowledge Sharing competition. 

Specifically, the team was looking for a centralized solution that would streamline the process for authors, judges, and the program team.  “We needed one tool for all the various people involved with the program that could meet all our needs,” says Deb Graci, Senior Advisor at Dell Technologies. 

Through research, the team landed on Submittable.

“Submittable put everything in one place,” says Graci. 

What could have been a challenging transition after nearly ten years using other systems proved seamless.

“This is where the software was such a huge value add,” Graci says. "Most of the tracking for our program was handled through secure spreadsheets before Submittable. In the first year, we had the ability to very easily replicate what had been done in previous years manually.” 

Submittable was able to address multiple needs, including those team members who wanted new functionality and those who liked seeing data in spreadsheets.

“We were running our process through Submittable, but we could still export data into spreadsheets,” says Graci. “In that way it was familiar, but we were still taking advantage of the improvements from the tool. This made for an exceptionally smooth transition.”

Partnering for success

From the get-go, Dell Technologies was impressed by Submittable’s customer dedication.

According to Graci, “Our experience with Submittable has been nothing but positive. You guys have been so responsive and one of the most customer-focused organizations I've come across in a really long time. I truly enjoy working with the Submittable team and can't speak highly enough about how much this tool has improved the entire program.”

“The support that we have found with Submittable has been exceptional,” Graci says. “When we were looking for solutions for a soon to be launched certification path, this was one of the reasons why it was almost a no brainer to use Submittable. We've had such an incredible experience with the team.” 

High-value results

Across the knowledge sharing and certification programs, Dell Technologies has been pleased with how reliable, efficient and intuitive Submittable is. 

“The software helped us consolidate tools,” Graci says, “and make our data results more reliable. When the data's all in one place, you're not going to miss updating it in one spot or another.”

Graci is a big fan of email templates for efficiency, as well as the flexibility of the form-builder.

“I really appreciate the flexibility,” she says, “to customize and add forms, as well as to define a custom process flow.” 

The platform simplified program administration and was also easier for judges to use. Since implementation, judges consistently express how easy it is to review assignments and provide their feedback. Many of the program authors participate year after year, and the feedback from them has also been overwhelmingly positive. They love the ability to view their submission and status whenever they choose.

According to Graci, “Our judges have been nothing but huge proponents of Submittable. They talk about how much easier and intuitive it is.” 

Making the best decisions, without bias

Arguably the most game-changing functionality for Dell Technologies was the ability to hide submission fields and facilitate anonymous review using permission levels. 

“Before Submittable,” says Graci, “it was very resource intensive to ensure we were adhering to the strict bias guidelines we have always had in place. With Submittable, the process is much easier to manage. Using the software not only helps automate the process—Submittable also helps ensure we are complying with the latest data privacy regulations.

“The Knowledge Sharing program is governed by copyright rules and competition guidelines,” she continues, “that are produced by our legal team, that we are obligated to follow. This secure automation allows us to stand behind our decisions, knowing that the selection of winners was not influenced by anything other than the content of their submission.”

Time (and tech) saved

Submittable isn’t just easier to use—it also helps Dell Technologies save lots of time. According to Graci, the software helps administrators save ten hours a week per competition cycle. This savings from October to April results in approximately 280 hours of conserved time. 

“With extra time,” Graci says, “we're able to make better, more proactive improvements to the program.”

The platform also saves reviewers an average of 30 minutes per review. In a process that employs over 50 external reviewers assessing up to seven submissions a piece, Dell Technologies saves judges up to 175 hours per year. 

In addition to time-savings, Graci appreciates that Submittable can meet the scale and intricacy of her program’s needs.

“Our certification program is actually really huge,” says Graci. “Other certification programs might have 10 or 15 exams, and even those would be considered large programs. We have 65 exams, so our program tends to ‘break’ tools. Most tools are built, generally speaking, for the average user, right? So we're always going to hit the threshold of most tools.” 

Graci was pleased not only that Submittable didn’t “break,” but that the team at Submittable was always looking to improve. 

“We find ourselves working with vendors,” she says, “to implement improvements to tools that end up benefiting other clients because our needs are so complex. Submittable has been absolutely responsive. I can't think of anything I've asked for that has not been reviewed and, usually, implemented.”

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