When Rhonda Harling joined 4Solutions as its new marketing manager, it was an exciting time for the company – business was booming, the company was expanding, and sales were on the rise.
4Solutions, an IT company that specializes in electronic data interchange (EDI), runs the largest B2B pharmaceutical exchange gateway in Australia, with additional customers in the Philippines and New Zealand. The company originally had a team of six employees in Australia and three in the Philippines, but after landing a large contract to be an exclusive service provider of EDI services, the company has grown to include 10 full-time employees in Australia with five additional contractors, and 12 full-time employees in the Philippines.
But with the expansion of the business and the addition of new staff, 4Solutions was also running into some potential problems.
“We’d grown so fast, and had added a lot of new staff, so people didn’t know the status of projects, and they would have to call someone or Skype someone or email someone,” said Rhonda. “The team was using lots of different methods to try to get information and things were getting lost in the system.”
The company was already using WORK[etc] to input customer contacts and leads, and jot down project notes. Rhonda knew they could be using WORK[etc] to do much more.
Where it all began: the staff challenge
“I said to Cliff, ‘If only we had some central thing of being able to find out where we’re up to with projects,’” said Rhonda. “And Cliff said, ‘I think we can use WORK[etc]. I think it’s got everything we’re looking for. We just need someone to spend a bit of time and have a look at it, what it can do.’”
Clifford Bunten, the 4Solutions CEO, agreed with Rhonda that they could come up with a better system, and so they took it to the team. They created a staff challenge for the Commercial team to take a day and come up with new ways to use WORK[etc] and utilize the features they weren’t already using.
On a Thursday morning, Rhonda and 4Solutions’ relationship manager, Verity McLaughlin, went up to the boardroom to create a foolproof system. “Our goals were to create a system that didn’t let anything slip through the cracks and didn’t add to anyone’s workload,” said Rhonda. “We also wanted to ensure that everyone has access to the same and most current information about a customer.”
The team gathered, and over many, many cups of coffee, spent the day hashing out their new system.
“We all kicked ideas around,” said Rhonda. “Cliff was writing on the whiteboard, to give us an overview of requirements. Verity used her laptop, so we had a visual overview of the steps. I was using paper to record my thoughts. So, lots of brainstorming, paper, laptops, whiteboard and everything plus many coffee cups! Apart from listening to the boss, when he set the parameters, it was lots of talking over each other, and quite fun!”
The staff challenge was a fantastic success – by the end of it, Rhonda, Verity, and the Commercial team had come up with a whole new system for using WORK[etc]: the Project Lifecycle. The Project Lifecycle is now the backbone for how 4Solutions handles client projects.
“We want to use WORK[etc] as much as possible because it’s just so centralized. Nothing gets lost and everybody knows where everything is.”
– Rhonda Harling, Marketing Manager, 4Solutions
Challenge results: The Project Lifecycle
After the team had hashed out the steps, Rhonda spent a weekend training herself on WORK[etc] by watching videos that explained the features 4Solutions wanted to use. She then developed training materials for the rest of the company that explained exactly how the Project Lifecycle worked and how it is implemented in WORK[etc].
Each individual step of the Project Lifecycle is laid out for everyone to see in WORK[etc]. Steps are color-coded as well, to show which department is responsible for which step of the Project Lifecycle. Red represents the Commercial/Sales team, blue is for Accounting, and green is for Operations.
The result is that now every 4Solutions team member knows the status of every project, and how far along the project lifecycle each project is. Each team member knows what they are supposed to do for each project, and when they need to do it. Project tasks are no longer getting lost in the shuffle. And the best part is that it’s not putting any extra burden on team members to do it – it’s making everyone’s jobs easier.
“We’re finding that using the Project Lifecycle is not really any extra work for us because it’s just centralizing what we do,” said Rhonda, “and down the line it’s actually a lot less work because we’re not searching through old emails to find that information or looking through our notes to find out who spoke to whom, and it’s all just there in one place. It really has helped us a lot.”
After implementing the new Project Lifecycle, 4Solutions was able to increase staff numbers at its Philippines office from four employees to 12. Project revenue also increased by 300% for the year to date compared to last year due to a combination of the new Project Lifecycle, as well as “more focused activity in account management,” according to her.
And now that they’ve got the Project Lifecycle running smoothly, Rhonda wants to incorporate even more features of WORK[etc] into the company’s daily workflow.
“We’d like to take a good look at WORK[etc]’s invoicing feature soon,” she said. “We’ve got a new finance manager, so it’ll be one of the things she’ll be looking at. We want to use WORK[etc] as much as possible because it’s just so centralized. Nothing gets lost and everybody knows where everything is.”
Rhonda’s Top Tip for Managing a Growing Business
“Having a centralized place for your information is key. When you expand it’s really easy for things to get lost, unintentionally, as different people take calls and people are out of the office.
“You might forget to ring someone, or email them late at night, but if you have everything centralized, like we do using WORK[etc]’s Discussion feature, you don’t have to go out of your way to contact everyone because it’s sort of done automatically really. It’s a good way to help handle your expansion because it can really help you to be organized.”
– Rhonda Harling, Marketing Manager, 4Solutions