Before I start working with someone I always want to know exactly what tools and systems my clients are using. This is tools and systems that cover finance, marketing, organisation and administration and client delivery. What I need to know is how all of these interact so that I can make sure that tasks are not being duplicated. When tasks are duplicated it wastes time, but it also creates errors.
Software and systems should work for you so that you reduce errors, reduce wasted time and improve your business for yourself and your clients.
I wanted to talk through some ideas for how to go about making sure that your systems are working for you. And if you are an established business with a range of tools and systems, how to look at combining those into a smaller number of tools.
1. List it all out
Get a big bit of paper, a wall and some sticky notes or use a Trello board. Whatever makes sense for you, and list out everything you are using (or maybe have and are not using!) Think of everything that you use, have a subscription for, free or paid and put it up there. Here are some prompts:
Quickbooks, Xero, Wave, Word doc (yes, if you are using offline systems that is important as well!)
Instagram, Facebook (group, page, profile, message), Mailchimp, Wix, Wordpress, SquareSpace, Google business, google ads.
Organisation and Administration
Time-logging i.e. Toggl, Google Drive, GSuite, Outlook, Trello, HelloSign, CRM system, Zapier, Calendly, Acuity, Iphone user, Android User, Apple Mac, Microsoft suite.
WeTransfer, Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, anything industry specific.
2. Map it out
Map your needs by putting them into your customer journey. Think about the following areas of your journey, how you use those different systems and what you NEED from the system at that stage. So this could look like:
Lead Generated - Instagram, Facebook message
Need phone number, name, business name, requirement.
Contact Made - Google, calendly, wix forms
Need prerequisite questionnaire, payment.
Follow up - Google, Quickbooks
Need to send quote.
Onboard - Google, wix, Quickbooks
Need to send a reoccuring invoice, onboarding pack, new client questionnaire.
Ongoing - Google Drive, Trello, Calendly, Toggl
Need to regularly update Trello with progress report, need regular check in call, need to track time.
Offboard - Google, Quickbooks, Facebook
Need to invoice, ask for review.
Reengagement - Google, calendly
Need to send call link for catch up.
3. Time logging and prioritising
Identify which tasks you do over and over. Using Toggl to track your time is a really valuable exercise to see how you can save time. If you don’t know what you are doing, it is hard to know where to save it! Here is a blog all about that.
For example, you may wish to automate the sending of your invoices as it takes a lot of your headspace but you may find that initial call booking is actually where you are burning through the hours. Armed with this data you can start to prioritise what are the important features of a new system.
By looking at the information you have collated, identify which tasks are replicated across systems, or what systems have the functionality to replicate i.e. call booking software is on both Wix and on Calendly. So if you have a Wix website, using Calendly is one more thing to think about, possibly pay for and update.
This one may require a bit of research!
4. Long term goals
Where are you hoping to go with your business? I always speak to my clients about this. You do not have to have it fully laid out but if you are aiming for a membership, for example, your tools and systems need to be set up for simple administration of:
a) Reoccuring payments b) Regular and repeat messaging c) A membership area d) Regular calls e) Video viewing f) Uploading of documents
This will dictate what software you look at now. Also, you can justify a more expensive piece of software now if you know it will serve you in the future but be sure to log that cash...then you can work out when it will start to pay back in the future!
Ask your networks, do some research and get a list together for software options that suit your needs. Let’s face it, you’re not going to get one piece of software that will manage everything but you can consider Zapier as a way to bridge the gap between some parts of your customer journey, so consider software that works together.
6. Process of elimination
Start to drill down into exactly what the software does and consider the following:
a) Your list of needs above b) How you like to work (lists, visual, laptop, app etc.) c) Integrations - how do things work together that are essential and reduce duplication. d) Price point. Always look free first, a price point does not equate to better software. It should always be based on your needs.
All software will have a long list of credentials, but you may not actually need all of those elements. Don’t be tempted by the selling points!
If you have to eliminate options based on price, keep them on a list. Just because they are not appropriate now does not mean that some time in the future they may suit your business as it grows.
Make sure that you have enough time to trial the software. Most have a free trial so make the most of it to be sure that it fits your purpose. If it does not fit your purpose, move onto the next option. You need to make sure that you have enough time to trial the software and how it fits into your journey and plans or your software will collect dust and this exercise will be wasted.
I know it can seem overwhelming, but once your customer journey is mapped out, it starts to become easier to plug the gaps.
I hope you’ve found this overview useful. Any questions, please drop me a message and let me know. Good Luck and happy cost saving!