Teamwork: not just for team members! Part 1
Last week I wrote about the importance of communication in relation to remote/virtual bookkeeping. I specifically honed in on communicating with clients – the good, the bad and the ugly! The crux of the argument was that if you don’t maintain a certain level of communication with clients, your professional relationships will suffer and may even fail. I provided you with several useful communication strategies for both bookkeeper and client that I use daily. One of those strategies is the use of Teamwork. I use this app as a bookkeeper/client portal or private intranet and this has made a huge improvement to the way I communicate with my clients. As you’ll see, Teamwork is not just for teams and team members. Teamwork is also for service providers and their clients.
In 2010, I changed my business name to e-BAS Accounts, got a great new website built via Click Web Design, started using more cloud accounting apps than before and generally changed the way I did business. The result of these changes was a big spike in client numbers. I went from 5 clients to 22 clients in the space of 9 months! I was stoked of course but I was also terrified! How was I going to manage all of these clients without having a nervous breakdown, or worse, letting my clients down?
Never one to give in to pressure or negativity, I did what I always do when I’m confused and in need of help – consult Google (no, really, I did)! I found loads of productivity hacks and tips and yes, they were useful but not exactly what I needed. They addressed some of the issues but didn’t provide a total solution. I needed something more robust. My research eventually led to project management software. This is what I needed – an app that would assist me in managing my workload.
I tried all of the popular products at the time but found that most of them were convoluted and complex, more suited to larger companies. Put simply, they were just too difficult to use. Eventually I found Teamwork and I gave it a try and within the first 10 minutes I knew I had found the product for me. It was feature-rich but user-friendly. It had everything I was looking for and more.
I began using the product immediately and I still use it today. This software literally gave me back my sanity! I was back in control of my workload. My growing client list no longer scared me because I was finally managing it, or rather, Teamwork (TW) was managing it for me. TW has been like an extra staff member for me, an extra pair of hands if you like, doing the heavy lifting while I just get on with the job. Perfect!
As with any software, it’s true value is only realised when it is used properly. When I first started to use TW, I spent about 2 weeks learning how to use the features and doing some testing. When I was happy, I started to set it up in a way that would best suit my business. Now that’s an important statement – read on!
TW, as with any project management software, is designed to bring your workforce together and work more efficiently as a team on specific projects. The main idea is to bring all of the projects and the personnel who are working on them together in one place so that all relevant information is kept in one central area rather than across several applications. This is great if you have actual projects to work on! I didn’t have projects persae to complete in my business because it is a service business (although I did have some business development projects, and yes, these were added to my TW portal). While I didn’t have projects to work on, I did have clients to service. I decided that my projects in TW would be my clients and vice versa.
So I set about adding all of my clients to TW as my “projects”. This is what that looks like:
As you can see, each project has various features including:
tasks, milestones, messages, files, time, notebooks, links, billing and people. Here’s a brief run-down on what each of these features does:
- Tasks: a list of the jobs to be done including due date and who will do them.
- Milestones: a breakdown of each task by specific sub-tasks
- Messages: the emails between team members or in my case, between me and my clients
- Files: files uploaded that are relevant to the project/client
- Time: time logged against each task
- Notebooks: documents you can create that relate to the project such as client details, meeting notes, brainstorming etc. These are arranged by category and can be downloaded in pdf format.
- Links: a list of clickable links that relate to the project
- Billing: here the time that is logged is transferred to an invoice (optional)
- People: all of the people working on the project
After I had completed the initial set up in TW for each client, it occurred to me that I had something potentially awesome on on my hands! I looked at all of the above features on offer and it struck me that if my clients were given access to each of their “projects” then, using these features together, we could truly collaborate on their bookkeeping tasks in a more effective way. I realised that I had unwittingly created a portal or intranet for each client! This was exciting! Finally all client tasks, files, messages, meeting minutes etc. would be in one place. The potential for the perfect communication system between my clients and I was born!
I needed to invite my clients to connect to their new bookkeeping portals but I didn’t want TW to be the first port of call when they logged in. I wanted clients to log in to their portals via my website so that clients felt that they were connecting to e-BAS Accounts, not an unrelated software platform. I engaged Chris from Click Web Design to build the login feature for me on the website which he did. I then went about inviting clients to their new portals, providing login details and an explanation regarding the new system.
The result was that not all clients wanted to use the new system but some took up the offer and are still using it today. For those who use the login feature, the benefits are huge! I truly believe that my professional relationship with these clients is stronger than that with those clients who have chosen not to use it. We communicate more effectively, we collaborate on all tasks and everything is kept tidily in one place. In short, we work far more efficiently together when using the portal. It’s a shame that some clients have chosen not to use it because again I say, the benefits are huge for both bookkeeper and client!
In my next blog, I will expand on these various benefits and show you how the client portals actually work.
At it’s core, Teamwork is a snappy, easy-to-use (and master) online project management application. As it’s namesake suggests, it aims to bring your workforce together and work more efficiently as a team on specific projects. The result of using Teamwork is greater job efficiency, improved organisation and smarter filing of records and data. It is for all of these reasons and more that I chose it as my project management platform back in 2010. As I discovered, Teamwork is not just for team members – it works for service providers and their clients too. I have been able to take Teamwork and successfully turn it into a effective communication system for me and my clients.