Dan Gockel

Chief of Stuff, MOD Pizza

Supernova Award Category: 

Future of Work - Productivity and Collaboration

The Company: 

Smartsheet is the world’s leading SaaS platform for managing and automating collaborative work. Smartsheet provides users the broadly applicable solutions, rich application integrations (Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, etc), and continuous data visibility to put the power of scale in your hands. Imagine having all notes, comments, files, and information in one centralized location accessible across any browser, device, and operating system. Share your work with other team members, or simply collaborate on a specific task . Invite people anywhere to collaborate on your entire project by sharing the sheet with them, or simply send them a row with attachments to get updates. The result is real-time collaboration that streamlines communication, empowers teams, and drives efficiencies.

The Problem: 

MOD Pizza’s core problem is a good one: scaling a rapidly growing business to keep up with demand.  Before implementing the Smartsheet Control Center (SCC), MOD’s approach to store openings was siloed with too many tools and disjointed processes. Executives lacked visibility into project status, deadlines and budgets. Manual processes and antiquated systems (including a heavy reliance on email and spreadsheets) resulted in version control nightmares.

As the department of construction specialists grew, and MOD’s growth accelerated, a huge bottleneck emerged around scheduling (resources, timelines, budgets) - which was being managed manually in Excel and updated during status meetings and over email. MOD was recreating a new template for how to approach and execute on every new project. For each new store, MOD would manually copy and rename those templates and populate project data into them (to ensure quality project reporting). As a result the MOD store construction team faced many challenges, including:

  • No real-time visibility into project and process milestones, budget, workforce, scheduling, etc.
  • Loss of productivity due to manual entry and reporting,
  • Late project delivery, over budget
  • Muddled collaboration with internal stakeholders and external vendors
  • Tool proliferation and offline version control issues
  • Inaccuracies due to manual entry and antiquated systems and tools
  • Misalignment of goals and outcomes
The Solution: 

A Smartsheet customer since 2015, small teams at MOD were using Smartsheet's work management platform to manage discrete parts of the store construction processes. In 2016, a MOD store construction specialist at (and future Smartsheet internal champion) recognized the need for store development life cycle improvement in order to meet the company’s aggressive growth goals. To successfully scale and preserve the MOD brand and quality, the company needed a better way to optimize their current resources to open stores with greater consistency, control, and efficiency.

As Smartsheet and MOD collaborated on a needs assessment, the scheduling issue was identified as a major bottleneck, and moreover, that this was an issue at scale. Instead of trying to tackle the whole problem of store openings at once, the MOD/Smartsheet team initially set out to solve the scheduling problem around store openings by implementing a solution built with the SCC. 

The Results: 

Before implementing Smartsheet, MOD used many tools and inconsistent processes to manage its store openings.  Store opening teams were stalled by operational silos, manual entry and lack of coordination - resulting in revenue loss. Smartsheet provides more visibility from the beginning to end of the project, allowing MOD to perform real-time tracking of all aspects of the store development.By providing a scalable and repeatable way to manage the store openings process, MOD pizza will open more stores this year with increased speed, consistency, visibility and cost savings.

Smartsheet has helped MOD manage complex projects / processes related to store openings :

  • Seamless collaboration across departments – cross-functional teams include real estate, construction, project management,  and IT – even external vendors. All can use Smartsheet to share information and gain visibility into projects and processes. The SCC allows groups of internal teams at MOD and external vendors to collaborate and break down work group silos.
  • Centralized scheduling tool for all stores - Construction managers can now track their own projects, and provide visibility to others from the executive level down to the field.
  • Real-time portfolio visibility -  Now instead of spending cycles making sure the dates in everyone’s excel schedules are consistent, MOD can focus on the solutions around those dates in Smartsheet.

It is still early days, but MOD has opened 20 stores on time and on budget since implementing the Smartsheet Control center, and 43 others are currently in process.  MOD has seen increased visibility into the projects related to store openings and been able to collaborate across the organization and with external vendors now that they are using Smartsheet. MOD store openings are occurring with greater efficiency as well.

The Technology: 

Smartsheet and the Smartsheet Control Center add-on.

The Smartsheet Control Center (“SCC”), a premium add-on, delivers the perfect balance between user needs for flexibility to get work done and the process consistency, governance, and real-time visibility required for massive programs to succeed at scale. The outcome? Operational control, reduced risk, and accelerated business results across the enterprise.

Disruptive Factor: 

The SCC allows MOD to make retrospective updates at scale to processes and to projects. What started as an implementation to help with scheduling at scale has now spread into other areas as well. MOD uses the SCC to standardize processes among cross functional teams within and outside the company, and in turn, sunset antiquated processes and tools related to:

  • Managing vendor relationships
  • Real estate sourcing
  • Hiring and onboarding of new employees
  • Sourcing new vendors in the area where a new store is planned
  • Materials budgeting
  • Maintaining a delivery schedule


MOD plans to keep up with its pace of change and innovation by using the SCC to assist the opening of its next 200 locations. This does not require a huge change management initiative or year-long consulting engagement. Instead, with the SCC MOD employees can make changes  to all provisioned projects with the click of a button. In addition, MOD can continue to redefine the process at scale by adding in new templates to apply to projects moving forward.

Smartsheet lets users manage work their way. For an employee-centric company like MOD, Smartsheet supports the company’s commitment to intrapreneurship: MOD employees continue to iterate their evolving project and process management best practices.  For MOD, the disruptive and on-going benefit is refinement and retrospective updates to complex project and processes - all with minimal change management.

Shining Moment: 

You can’t serve the pizza of the future with the tools of the past.  MOD’s ultimate goal in encouraging collaboration is to create an environment that fosters intrapreneurship. MOD’s success with Smartsheet can be attributed in part to a great internal champion (Dan Gockel) who was empowered to change the status quo.  Dan has been promoted many times (recently to “Chief of Stuff”to the CEO) b/c of contributions like championing Smartsheet. 

About MOD Pizza

MOD Pizza is a pioneer for the fast casual pizza segment, founded in Seattle in 2008 by Scott and Ally Svenson. MOD’s artisan-style pizzas are made on demand, allowing customers to create their own pizzas and salads. MOD was recently recognized by Fortune as one of the “20 Best Workplaces in Retail” for its progressive hiring practices and career growth opportunities.