This is a little off topic from my usual rants, but worth telling.
One of our local clients is a 6-person HR and Recruiting company. Like me, they get a lots of emails each day. But unlike me, this email is spread across multiple staff email boxes. To date, in order to keep everyone informed of what’s happening with various projects and clients, they have to cc many client-related emails to their colleagues as well as re-save correspondence to various server folders. This is a common in most small businesses and after a while it gets very messy.
We helped them setup a new system to track this email traffic called AffinityLive. (They had heard about Affinity on the Xero accounting website, not me). And it only tracks emails that relate to existing or new clients. It’s a very useful tool for services-based businesses to track client activity and correspondence including any attachments or related files. It is naturally accessed and tracked online in a slick, secure visual portal.
all data relating to clients, projects, email and invoicing is tracked and managed
But wait there’s more! It is also a slick CRM and project management system. This means almost everything to do with specific details and transactions relating to clients, projects and their emails is tracked. It also tracks the time taken on projects and their invoicing!
It could double your business worth
Like all these types of systems, it takes a bit of work to setup initially, which scares many people. Stories of stalled CRM and Project Management systems are common as business owners expect a quick fix and instant results. But when done well, the time and frustration saved in a year can be be huge.
But the real hidden value of this technology goes way beyond becoming more efficient and effective. There’s intrinsic business benefits. With this type of system, were for example, this small HR business ever sold, I’m convinced having a business system like this in place that virtually runs the company, would almost double its net worth. I’d seen this happen with a shared quoting & job management system in a small innovative print company I worked for in Christchurch ten years ago.
I’ve looked at other project management and CRM systems over the years but none do it anywhere near as well as Affinity Live and for the modest monthly subscription cost, could save the wages of at least one person by making everyone in a small office more productive.
The other thing my old Christchurch print boss loved with his system was the control it gave. It also meant he could safely go on holiday and ‘the system’ was safely monitoring things on his/her behalf and knowing that tasks were being attended to. It helped both him and his staff to know what was happening with clients and their daily priorities. A login via the net gave instant access to view activity 24/7 which was nice. I expect Affinity are already working on an iPhone/iPad App too, meaning your business can literally be in your pocket…
Certainly the initial trick with client email and task management is the most fascinating and eliminates a lot of frustration and wasted effort common in many service-based small businesses today.
Cloud Computing that works
It’s a classic example of how ‘cloud computing’ can really work for small business to lower costs and become more efficient. I’d already setup a WordPress website and Google Apps for them that has helped bring in more clients and work, since they’re now visible online. But this new system is the real jewel in the crown, allowing them to better manage their business and their growth. We’re now investigating how their website online job applications and enquiries can go directly to Affinity instead of email notifications, which would be really nice, ensuring no new client enquiry or sales lead is ever lost.
In the coming months I intend implementing it in our own business, as a shared resources for the other designers, marketers and coders we collaborate with on various online projects. Oh, and it’s another Auzzie developed system too which seems to be particularly adept at this sort of thing. Watch this space.