Are CRMs the answer?
There are two of us in our office. We’re married. We’re supposed to be able to finish each others sentences and communicate better than any ‘ordinary’ colleagues would. You could even say we should be able to read each others mind and know instinctively what it is that needs doing. Well this is not the case!
We have very defined roles in the business, we find this works best and is the most productive way of getting customer projects completed on time, on budget and in the best way possible. What we did struggle with though was deciding who does what on any given project and seemed to spend all of our time asking the other one if something had been completed.
Add into this the daily running of the business, you know the boring things like accounts, licences, insurances etc and on top of that the daily life tasks that just don’t stop and we decided that we needed to be more organised. Have a one stop shop where we could instantly see at what point a project was at and what needed to be done.
Fast forward nearly a year and we’ve tried and tested innumerable amounts of time management tools, customer relationship management software and various desktop and phone apps and our conclusion… we’ve ditched the lot of them.
Low Tech Solutions for a Tech Business
The honest truth is they just made us super stressed. Everything had a day or even a time allocated to it and of course some things are time critical, but for goodness sake we work for ourselves and we work from home, if we can’t be flexible with time scales what is the point of being self employed? All the red marks or the bings and bongs basically telling us that we were out of time ALL the time were driving us mad. The last one we used, which to be fair was the best was Trello – we even upgraded and paid for it we were so impressed, to start with.
The weeks went on and I personally found I was spending more and more time making sure that everything was in the correct column – To Do, In Progress, Completed only to find that I had forgotten to move something over a column and it was still sitting there flashing red for overdue. My phone was making noises during the evening basically telling me how badly I had done on the completion of tasks for the day and on a Friday I would get notifications about how little I achieved during the week. It was causing anxiety, I felt constantly like I was chasing my tail and I couldn’t keep up with everything, that feeling of ‘overwhelm’ was washing over me in waves.
I finally said to the otherfenton that I couldn’t do it anymore. Phew, he said the same! We ditched Trello, we uninstalled the apps on our phones, we removed it from favourites and pins on our browsers and within a day, literally 24 hours, the mood had lifted and normality resumed.
We Are Not Dinosaurs
Now I need to stress at this point, this doesn’t mean we don’t keep a track of what’s going on, or have deadlines to meet or project goals to be completed. We’ve gone back to basics. We use our GSuite calendar to block out our time, we go through everything that needs to be completed for the week on a Monday, we talk to each other about what we’re working on, we use one other tool and that’s Wunderlist which is basically a glorified to do list, and we still have a pad and paper on the desk to jot down things so we don’t forget them. It works, it’s relatively stress free and it’s simple and feels like we’re going back to basics and we don’t need to go all high tech again.
This might all sound bonkers coming from a web development company, but honestly, our motto really is KISS (keep it simple stupid) why over complicate things? We’re not that big a company that we need customers to run a ticketing system with us, we’re happier chatting to them on the phone or preferably using email so there is an audit trail of everthing. Our sub contractor workers are left to get on with what we need them to do and as long as they complete their tasks in the timescale required, then who are we to ask them to use some high falluting CRM or TM system?
This doesn’t mean we are not open to new things or ideas that will save us time and energy, in fact we collaborate on all sorts of CRM’s with other companies that we work with, we just found that they are not for us. All we need to know is what needs doing, when does it need doing by and who’s doing it, in between feeding the cats, making the coffee and deciding what’s for dinner!