User Stories is a regular column on the WorkflowMax blog where we get a company to walk us through their experience using WorkflowMax. Every company is different, and every firm has different methods and processes for managing their projects. Our hope is that by taking a look at what others do, it may help you gain an understanding of how WorkflowMax could work for you.
Today we talk to Lisa East, director of Auckland-based marketing agency, East Marketing Communications.
Tell us about what you do at East Marketing Communications?
I am a marketer and a writer, so I help businesses improve their profile, particularly in the online space, with really professional, carefully considered content that meets the organisation’s optimisation needs and presents them as experts in their field. The kind of businesses that I work with are predominantly professional services - for example, architects, people in IT, or people in the property and construction industries.
What kind of challenges were you facing in your business prior to implementing WorkflowMax?
Probably two things - the first thing was keeping track of time. I was literally just best-guessing, so looking at the clock and then entering my time on an Excel spreadsheet, which wasn’t ideal.
The other thing was scale. I wanted to grow my business. I wanted to bring in other people who could help me with some of the work. Obviously, if you add people to your business, then you need to be able to track their time and their hours too, so I needed a professional way of doing that.
Walk me through a typical project using WorkflowMax:
When I go and see a client, instead of taking my notepad and scratching down what they’re telling me, I’ll actually have WorkflowMax open to the quote screen on my laptop. I enter all the information from the meeting into the notes, so I can come back to the office and review them. I can then tidy up the notes, show one of the contractors if they’re going to be involved and then use the notes to formulate a more precise quote. Then, all going well, the quote is accepted and turns into a job, I schedule it through from there and then we track time against each project that we do.
The other thing I’ve been using is the templates which have been really helpful where I have repeating jobs - for example, a client might need two blogs and a newsletter each month. So I’ll just template that. The client knows how much time we’re going to spend. Everyone’s on the same page, and there’s no surprises at the end of the day.
How do you find the integration between WorkflowMax and Xero?
It’s easy. I don’t even have to think about it. It just does what it needs to. It’s really satisfying when you go into Xero and your draft invoices are sitting there and all you have to do is just go through and check them.
What would you say have been the biggest benefits of using WorkflowMax?
It makes it much easier to estimate projects. We’re so much more accurate because we can actually look back at other jobs and go, ‘how long did that take?’
It’s added a level of professionalism. I’ve brought in contractors and I’m expecting them to also be the face of the business. I expect them to track time in a certain way and meet our budgets and deadlines. It’s just given that level of professionalism; whereas if I’d said to them “OK, so we just keep an Excel spreadsheet in Dropbox’, that just wouldn’t be professional.
It also means that at any one time, I can go in and I can have a look at how many projects we’ve got on, where we’re up to with all the projects, who’s doing what with the hours. For me, it’s about managing time at both ends. At the client’s end, that we’re delivering value to the budget that we said we wound, and at the contractor’s end, that we’re working efficiently.
Why would you recommend WorkflowMax to other marketing agencies?
There’s no comparison between trying to do it off some manual format compared to doing it through WorkflowMax. There’s just no way you could do it in as much detail, as accurately, and as quickly.
You’ve got to have your eye on lots of different balls and WorkflowMax lets me do that. I can look at a glance and see what everyone’s doing. It gives your business a level of professionalism and transparency around billing and accumulating time that if you are serious about offering a good service, you can’t afford not to have.
Thanks Lisa! If you’re running a company using WorkflowMax and want to talk workflow with us, then drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can interview you for User Stories.