MMP has a small team of three staff who provide marketing services to businesses that don’t have an internal marketing resource, or who require assistance either day-to-day or on a project basis. The internal team often work from different places at different times, including clients' premises or at home. Its primary office is in a shared space with a shared reception and meeting rooms.
The company required a software system that better supported the day-to-day operations of the business which largely revolves around accounting, project collaboration, time tracking and customer management.
The new system also needed to accommodate MMP’s growing internal team, client base, and third party suppliers, all of whom work from different locations.
The list of requirements prompted the company to move its entire business processes and systems to the cloud.
The company deployed Google Apps for email, calendar, and document collaboration, Insightly as the CRM, Xero for Accounting, and Harvest for time tracking.
Company Director, Anne Guethoff, says the ability to access these services from a mixture of mobile devices such as tablets, smartphones and notebooks has been a real boon for employees, clients and other MMP stakeholders.
“Project management, collaboration, tracking finances and managing customer data in the cloud means we are independent of locations, devices, and time zones, which is essential for a business that is built on speed to implementation, communication, and multi-stakeholder projects,” she said.
“With our cloud-based business system and employees being device independent, it means that technology and systems are not holding us back anymore. We don’t have old versions of project documents floating around or financial reports that are waiting for the next update,” she added.
One of the MMP's consultants, Erica Calea, cited a recent example of how they used mobility to bridge the geographical divide on a project deadline.
“I was in Europe for business meetings, whilst another member of my team was also travelling locally. We had a strategy project deadline to meet for a new client. Our technology solutions allowed us to work collaboratively on one version of this presentation from our different locations, and then present to our client via Google Hangout, effectively presenting in much the same way we would have had we been in the same room.”
Guethoff says the use of cloud-based services coupled with a multi-device workflow has also made it much easier for her to have insight into any system or document in real-time and whenever needed.
“Having financial data and project performance available at all times means I can make informed decisions fast, which has been critical for us as I am not involved in all projects anymore.”
But Guethoff admits there is no single perfect ‘off the shelf' cloud service that will meet the needs of every business, and suggests a pragmatic approach to adoption.
“A good start is to document all your business functions and processes you need covered. You can then look into options that might address all of your needs with one integrated system. Or you may have to build your own by cherry picking individual services that integrate well with each other,” she said.
“Regardless of the solution, ensure that you allocate enough time training your team on how to use the new system and what rules and frameworks apply. You want your systems to support your work – not make it rocket science!”