Business Process Platforms for Efficiency

Perri wrote last week about some of the tools we use for project management, so I thought I'd write about some of the online tools we use to run the business side. 

Each year we produce several million dollars in successful client engagements across three global offices with no receptionists, no secretaries, no accounts payable clerks, no accounts receivable clerks – and virtually no paper documents. 

A generation ago, that kind of operational efficiency would have been unimaginable. What makes it possible today is a whole set of online services that give us remarkable efficiency and agility as a company. 

For us, it all starts with a new client inquiry. A prospect goes to the contact us page on our website, which is powered by WuFoo. As soon as the prospective client clicks “submit”, WuFoo automatically fires-off an email to me and Sumit, and one of us responds immediately. 

Alternatively, they might call our phone number, which is actually a web-based service called Grasshopper. The system takes the message, transcribes the voicemail into text, and fires off an email to the three of us. Again, we respond immediately.

Following that, all of the “paperwork” that we might send to a prospective client – Rates, Term Sheet, Mutual NDA, Master Services Agreement, Statement of Work – all are sent via Google Docs, where we can collaborate on the documents together and refine them into final form with the client (no email attachments and no versioning confusion!). 

When final documents ready for signature, we use EchoSign, which integrates seamlessly with Google docs – no printing, scanning, no ink. A few clicks and we’ve got signed docs, ready to rock and roll. 

As we begin the actual client engagement our entire team tracks their hours in Freshbooks, so that when we send the client an invoice (directly from Freshbooks) the client can see detailed time and task records. 

Our Project Managers use Basecamp as a project collaboration platform, and PivotalTracker for assigning tasks to our engineers plus monitoring project development velocity against milestones. And of course we use GitHub for source code collaboration and private repositories. 

Along the way, any outside vendors we engage simply send their invoices to a designated email address where their invoice is automatically entered into our account, ready for direct electronic payment.

Once an engagement is complete, Freshbooks emails an invoice to our client and our bank info is listed right there on the invoice. Most of our clients pay us electronically, via bank wire transfer or via a service like No paper checks. 

Meanwhile, all of the transaction data gets entered into QuickBooks Online, where our outside accountant and our CPA can log in anytime, review statements, and prepare tax returns. 

I run payroll using ADP, and our employees get their paychecks deposited directly into their bank accounts — plus they can manage their 401(k) and Blue Shield health insurance all through web-based dashboards. 

25 employees, three offices, several million dollars worth of amazing client projects a year, all with zero physical paper. 

I love running a company in 2014. 

Business Process Platforms for Efficiency

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