Duxter, a social network for gamers, is an eight-person company with a network of contractors on the west coast of the United States and in the United Kingdom. It runs much of its fast-growing business using Teambox, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) collaboration platform. Duxter's use of Teambox shows that even a small to medium business (SMB) can reap the benefits of SaaS-based collaboration for consolidating project management and collaboration.
Adam Lieb, president and cofounder of Duxter, explains Duxter's history with Teambox: "We've been using Teambox for a while now. It's hard to remember all the way back. We've used a bunch of different collaboration tools. We're a small company and it's easy to adopt a new tool. We had tried a bunch of different tools that didn't work for us for one reason or another."
The big pro Duxter found with Teambox is that they got their entire company on board, including development and marketing. Explains Lieb: "Most of the other tools we found were a split between useful project management tools for development and then useful collaboration tools for planning or projects. With Teambox we found the mix of both that got the entire company on board."
SMBs like Duxter have it easier when it comes to the selection process for a collaboration or project management solution. "It was mostly trial and error. We were smaller back then," Lieb said. "I would usually try it myself first because I was the primary driver behind it and because it was something that would make my life easier."
Another advantage to Duxter was that Teambox was easy to use and easy to understand. Other tools they looked at might have been more powerful and robust, but there would be a huge learning curve, or the product was nonintuitive and not easy to use.
"Teambox is easy to use and approachable by everyone," Lieb said. "So it was me trying things out and then slowly bringing others on to see if they liked it, and then once we figured out it worked for us we just sort of mandated it."
Moving to Teambox also let Duxter save on paying per-seat pricing for multiple collaboration and project management applications it previously had in place.
Migration to Teambox
Many of Duxter's corporate documents were already in the cloud, which made migration to Teambox rather simple. Lieb said, "We've always used Google Docs and Dropbox. Teambox integrates with both, so it didn't require us to onboard our documents. Collaboration became easy."
In fact, the biggest things they had to migrate over were tasks and projects from previous project management tools and previous collaboration tools.
Duxter was also able to use the Teambox API to its advantage. "We had a standalone feedback tool on our site that we'd built ourselves that allowed our users to click a feedback button for reporting bugs or sending us ideas," Lieb said. "So, after we adopted Teambox, we just built a bridge from our site and Teambox using the Teambox API. From there, we were able to onboard all of our problems and bugs from our custom system to the Teambox system. It took a day's worth of work and they all transferred over."
While Lieb says there were no fundamental changes in Duxter's business when they moved to Teambox, there were process changes. Now when someone reports a bug on the site, a task is created in Teambox, which is assigned to a PM to triage. The task ends up getting resolved and communicated to the user or gets turned into a dev bug fix issue. That changed their workflow a bit.
"I think it was an improvement in communications and workflow and definitely in documentation about what people are doing when and how a project is progressing. I definitely feel it was an improvement," Lieb said.
Collaboration with third parties
SMBs collaborate a lot with partners and other third parties, and Duxter uses Teambox to collaborate with third parties quite cost effectively. For contractors and outside advisors, Teambox has been a much better solution for keeping everybody in the same world.
"A lot of the tools we'd been using were internal, and pricing models were constructed so that adding another person was $15.00 a month, or something like that. So you have a contractor or freelancer who comes on for a project and you don't necessarily want them on your internal tools, so you end up spending more money," Lieb said.
"Teambox is easy enough to throw on one person and have them involved in just one project or one task and have them work with the team. It makes it easier to work with somebody outside the company as if that person were inside the company. It's a little more familiar and a little less awkward than communicating via email, which is typical with external people."
Similarly, with advisors and other people related to the company in a tangential way, Duxter has been able to bring them onto the system but not have them involved in every single project. They have an area sectioned off where it's easy to keep them updated.
Productivity and transparency improvements
"Adding that extra layer of process in has been helpful as the company has grown. We didn't do it when there were four of us in a garage," Lieb said. "It was a little bit easier with everybody in charge of their own staff. But as the team has grown, that level of process has made us more efficient as a team because there's less time spent communicating."
For companies of Duxter's size, having one tool that everybody can be on is very valuable. It's a better workflow, and better synergy, for the entire company now that everybody is on one system.
"I had it partitioned in my head," Lieb said. "Here's the technical work. Here's the fluffy other stuff. Now seeing entire projects from start to finish, from idea to customer surveys, to spec to design to coding and QA happen in one place has been a big advantage for us."
Key to adoption
The key to Duxter adopting Teambox was that the leaders "had the conviction beforehand that it was the right decision for the company," Lieb said. "You also have to make it part of the workflow where it's not optional."
Teambox is even helping Duxter better onboard new employees. Lieb sees new employees using Teambox more quickly now than in the past. "It's easier to interact with people you've never really worked with before via Teambox versus email. It's a lower 'barrier' to put up a Teambox task or to be able to comment on a Teambox issue. Commenting on a Teambox issue is easier to communicate and less scary for new employees."
Task reporting in Teambox
Teambox benefited Duxter in terms of transparency and improved communications. It improved their project workflow, internal communications, partner (contractor) collaboration, and even the onboarding of new employees by consolidating the company on one collaboration and project management platform.