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The Unconventional Guide to Work

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WorkflowMax is a Platform That Allows Design Agency to Scale [User Story]

User Stories is a regular column on the WorkflowMax blog. Here, we get a company to walk us through their experience implementing and 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 and its integrations could work for you.

Today we talk to Ollie McDermott, director of Blender Design, a product design company based in Auckland.

blender

Tell us a bit about Blender and how WorkflowMax fits into your operations:

We’re a product design consultancy. There’s six of us in the team at the moment. We work with manufacturers and product brand companies to develop new products for them. So, predominantly industrial design and mechanical engineering. We’ve got a couple of core groups of customers for which we do consulting, and we also work with start-ups. The manufacturers we work with are around 20-plus people in size.

We use WorkflowMax to manage projects. It is our core day-to-day job management system.

What was your motivation for implementing a job management system at Blender?

One of the main motivations was having something that integrated with Xero. We needed to track time and costs against projects and make sure that we capture that value and build from it from a consulting point of view. Then from there it was about managing multiple staff and being able to get into performance indicators. Previously we were using Basecamp and spreadsheets to do these things.

We went with WorkflowMax because of the support response we got from the team, because it was a New Zealand company and because of its integration with Xero.

What other software or tools are you using to run your business?

As mentioned, we use Xero for accounts. Because we’re quite visual with what we do, we need a lot of feedback and info on design work as we go. We used to have Basecamp to manage this communication but found we weren’t really using it, so at the moment we do this via email and Dropbox, but we’re looking to reintroduce something similar.

We use Fathom for our monthly financial reporting and absolutely love it. It’s second to none what they’re doing, especially the forecasting element of it. We also use ThankYou Payroll. It’s free for small businesses and community organisations through an arrangement with the IRD. They donate 25 cents per person per pay (up to $5 per organisation) to the Thankyou Charitable Trust which gives out microgrants to community organisations that are working to build community resilience, connection and sustainability.

Do you use a CRM system?

We’re using the lead manager in WorkflowMax. It allows me to manage leads - which in our case are generally over quite a long period. What I like about the lead manager being built in is that you can attach estimates to it and all the information is there. Once you’ve won the work, you can just tick a box and it will turn into a job.

Do you use WorkflowMax for your invoicing?

Yes. As a general rule, we invoice at the end of each month because we need to follow our monthly billing cycle but there are some bigger jobs that we invoice at the end of a project stage or phase. It’s good having that flexibility because if we need to, we can invoice whenever we want, but generally there’s an end of the month process where we make sure all the invoicing is done and approved.

A couple of customers ask to see a breakdown of all the recent timesheeting data and what tasks were done. WorkflowMax makes it easy to recall that information if we need to.

What information is important to you when it comes to reporting?

The key KPIs for our business are hours. So, I’m always looking at productivity reports on a regular basis. And at the end of each month, we get revenue reports to see the spread of the revenue between clients.

We need these business metrics to make sure we’re making money and also to make sure we’re delivering consistent results and putting our time into valuable tasks.

Do you use these reports to make changes to the way you price your services?

We definitely learn from looking at how far over time projects run or how much time tasks take - it’s particularly useful for repeated tasks. I guess the challenge with our business is that no project is ever the same, so it’s a combination of looking back at how long it’s taken and also a little bit of intuition.

What do you love most about WorkflowMax?

I think where WorkflowMax really excels is in its time tracking and invoicing. It’s got all the right information, all the right databases, and really rich reporting.

It’s a platform that’s allowing us to scale, and as we get more people we start seeing some things that we didn’t realise before and we also start seeing some workflow process problems of our own.

Thanks Ollie! If you’re running a company using WorkflowMax and want to talk workflow with us, then drop me an email steff.green@xero.com so we can feature your business here.