Note: Click here for Part 1 of WORKetc’s two-part series on micro-multinationals and learn what’s in their business DNA.
Now that you know what a micro-multinational is, it’s time to tackle the big issue: how do you keep a business with a dozen employees in a dozen different countries running smoothly?
If you’ve been an entrepreneur for long enough, you’d know there’s no secret recipe to business management success. There are, however, a lot of ways to at least keep things going in the right direction.
One of these is by using WORKetc as an all-in-one micro-multinational business management software. Here are three tips on how to do just that.
Don’t Rely Too Much on Emails
Email is awesome. It has helped revolutionize how we communicate. The speed and ease with which you can send out an email is a double-edged sword, however.
According to the Radicati Group, 2.5 billion email users worldwide sent and received over 205 billion emails in 2015 alone. That comes out to just over 80 emails sent and received per person, per day.
That’s a veritable flood rushing into email inboxes every day, so what’s to keep that email with the super important task you sent five minutes ago from being buried and forgotten in your co-worker’s inbox — especially if they’re in a completely different timezone?
Instead of relying on emails and the chaotic and unwieldy email chains they inevitably devolve into, you can make sure everything you send to a teammate or co-worker gets a reply by using the “Request Reply” feature in WORKetc’s discussions module.
The discussions module’s threaded, forum-style discussions can also be attached to any item in WORKetc, be it a contact, a lead, a project, or a support ticket. This helps keep everybody up to date with any new changes or updates.
For example, let’s say you’re working on a website redesign with two developers. You’re in Perth; they’re both in California. The client calls to tell you to include an animated splash page — something not included in the project brief.
You create a new discussion on the website redesign project page so your team can calculate how much time and money the extra work would take. By requesting replies from both developers, you can be sure that they’ll be alerted of the discussion and be able to get back to you as soon as they log on to WORKetc.
Once the extra costs are properly calculated, you can then quickly redirect the discussion to someone from sales or support so they can inform the client. And since every thread in the discussion is attached to the project, your sales or support person comes in prepared for any additional questions the client may have about the extra costs.
By having all your business communications recorded within WORKetc, employees are able to spend less time sifting through email to find a conversation and more time achieving goals and solving problems.
Keep All Business Data in One Place
When your team is working 2,000 miles away from each other, you can’t just pop over to a co-worker’s cubicle for a quick progress update. Having a central repository of business data becomes very important.
You can keep every piece of data you need to successfully manage your business from end to end in WORKetc. Even better: you can attach anything to anything. You can give all that data much needed context by attaching them to the proper contact, sales lead, project, or support ticket.
They will all then show up in that object’s activity stream, a running record of everything you’ve ever done for a client, lead, project, or support ticket.
Got an email from a client about a few additional changes to the SEO campaign you’re running for them? Attach it to the appropriate project using WORKetc’s Gmail and Outlook add-ins and immediately send an alert to everyone working on the project.
Need to get a few expenses from your last face-to-face sales meeting reimbursed? Snap a picture with your mobile phone and attach those receipt pics to the client’s lead entry.
Finally managed to complete your super-thorough company branding guidelines? Keep all that information in the knowledge base and share it with anybody on the team who needs a refresher.
This central repository becomes nigh-indispensable when your whole team operates in different time zones. Take WORKetc’s own support team, for example.
Let’s say Justine in Manila is working on a support ticket from a UK-based client. If Justine can’t resolve the ticket before the end of his work day, Sarah in New York can pick up right where he left off.
She doesn’t even need to ask Justine about what he has already done for the client since it’s all there in the ticket’s activity stream. Both Justine and his client wake up to a resolved support ticket.
Be As Transparent As Possible
Making sure everyone is on the same page on any given project can be a struggle when the whole team works remotely. Clear project objectives are a must, and making sure everyone knows and understands exactly what they need to do falls on the project manager’s shoulders.
Fortunately for all the haggard project managers out there, WORKetc’s Gantt charts give the entire team a clear visual timeline of everything that needs to be done for a project, which tasks are high priority, how they need to be sequenced, and exactly when each deliverable is due.
This doesn’t just apply to the projects side of the business, either. By creating custom sales and support processes, your employees don’t have to flounder in the dark trying to find out what box to tick or what action to take next.
Transparency also extends to documentation — i.e., chronicling how your company does things. Most big multinationals document all of their processes meticulously, so why shouldn’t your micro-multinational do the same?
WORKetc’s knowledge base lets you collect and compile every step-by-step instruction guide or employee manual that your company needs in one place. If one of your new designers has a question about your design language, they can simply take a peek at the knowledge base without having to wait 8 hours for you to wake up and go online.
Finally, be transparent when it comes to communication. There are few things worse for a remote teammate than to be kept out of a discussion and then discovering that the project has completely changed objectives overnight.
The discussions module discussed above helps in keeping essential information out in the open. If you use online chat tools like Slack to communicate, make sure to discuss projects in a group channel that includes everyone who has to work on that project.
There’s a bit (okay, a lot) of trial and error involved in getting a micro-multinational up and running. Supplement these three tips with our ultimate guide to managing remote teams and you’ll have plenty of tools in your arsenal to keep your micro-multinational running smoothly.
Those are all good ideas, especially the use of the knowledge base. We use that here enough that if we ever have a question, our first response is always “Have you checked the knowledge base?” I think another addition to the “Don’t over rely on email” point is that sometimes ANY text-based explanation might be unclear. Sometime you just need to call/Skype and work something out.
Micro-multinational. Now we have a label 🙂
All great points. Email is one of the most anti-productive tools out there when you’re in a distributed environment. If the only copy is in your inbox, it’s a process fail that will hurt your project. Unless you’re a team of 1 with the goal of wearing every hat in your business!
We use Slack, with dedicated channels for each major project. I’d love a way to send this communication back into Worketc as we’re not really using the discussions module at this stage.
We use notes/notifications a LOT though, which is how email should be used – a notification mechanism, not a discussion tool 🙂
Thanks for the tips – we rely quite heavily on Skype to avoid emails and ensure our distributed teams are on top of their projects through internal management in a Google Doc spreadsheet which is shared with the individual team members.
It would be awesome to be able to spit out a report from WorkETC with top level active projects and their deliverables – but haven’t worked how to do this just yet. Any tips on this?