Networking in Madrid
Why network? What does it add to your business? Networking in Madrid has brought this into focus and convinced me it's worth the investment.Read More
A coach took one look at the spaghetti of tools we had and laughed. “You should start planning an integrated approach to your software,” she said. “How can you see what you need to in order to run this business? How can your staff see what they need to get things done efficiently?”
And she was right. Here’s the list of the great tools that we were using:
I want to say these tools are great! There’s just too many of them. We needed fewer bits of software, fewer logins, fewer systems to learn… and most of all, better visibility.
We started with a wish list, turned that into feature requirements, and we started to look. It took around two months to sort through a list of around 100 systems that promised to do a lot of what we needed. It took another month to shortlist two solutions: Accelo and Zoho.
Yes, we shortlisted the A to Z of software suites.
Accelo is a specialist tool focusing on maximising billable hours and staff utilisation. They appear to be creating the sexy niche of “Service Operations Automation” and as a productised services business it seemed like a great fit.
A relatively new company, there were not a lot of critical reviews, but many of those focused on the complexity of mapping their business systems to the tools. I was concerned around the lack of chatter, but thought it was worth a go.
I liked their mission, and it seemed perfectly aligned with our core needs.
Zoho is a mishmash of dozens of inter-related tools that have been bootstrapped over the last 10+ years. Their story is one of scratching their own itch, first building a CRM and then slowly but surely building other tools and systems around it.
Their Zoho One package is a one-price “operating system for your business” which pulls almost all of them together. The offering seems quite new, and there is obviously much more work to be done in integrating everything – but the direction seems good.
Zoho has a long history: I found hundreds of negative reviews and some pretty obvious astroturfing along with positive reviews too. However, in recent years, Zoho seems to have taken on a new level of maturity, and Gartner now has them in the challenger segment.
We went through several weeks of testing with both tools. We talked with sales reps and systems folks. We tried mapping our business processes against each tool.
In the end, we all preferred the experience of Accelo, but that came at the price of flexibility. We couldn’t map our different products and services cleanly. The biggest strengths were in understanding the utilisation of team members and capturing ‘lost’ billable hours. As a business owner, I loved that visibility and reporting. But every operational aspect would take a hit.
So back to Zoho. It’s not as pretty. It’s a mix of different interlocking apps that talk to each other and fail to talk to each other in surprising ways. But it did allow us to consolidate a lot more information, and it gave every operational department the tools they needed to move forward in a better way than our current system.
The sticker price was at a much lower price point, but we realised that we needed professional set-up help to get things up and running. The last step before deciding to make the switch was to bring in a Zoho Partner as a consultant and implementation advisor. After a few interviews, we settled on Mladen Svraka to help us out.
The game was afoot!
|Current Tool||Zoho One Tool|
|HubSpot CRM||Zoho CRM|
|HelpScout Support Desk||Zoho Desk|
|HelpScout Knowledge Base||Zoho Desk Knowledge Base|
|HelpScout knowledgeB (internal)||Zoho Learn|
|HelpScout Beacon||Zoho Desk ASAP|
|Metorik||Zoho Campaigns / Zoho Analytics|
|Bitbucket issue tracker||Zoho Bug Tracker|
|Better Proposals||Zoho Sign|
|Surveys Tool||Zoho Surveys|
|DropBox Files||Zoho WorkDrive|
|Dropbox Paper||Zoho Notes|
|Google Apps / GSuite||Zoho Mail / Writer / Sheet / Show|
|Wrike||Zoho Projects / Sprints|
|Zoom / Zoom Call||Zoho Meeting|
That’s a lot of software!
In our decision to evaluate software, we were happy to spend more in order to get what we needed. But our final decision should be something that did not increase the cost of software by more than 20%.
Monthly cost… USD$35 per user, with the caveat that every employee must be a user. (Other price points exist for businesses that don’t want every employee to be a user.) It became even cheaper with current exchange rates since we purchased in Australian dollars, being closer to our headquarters in New Zealand.
We identified that by shutting down just one of our existing services we could hit break-even. If we shut down 50% of these apps we’d be saving over USD$800/month, at our current staff numbers. And if we shut down everything and went all in, we could double those savings.
So how did we plan our move? And how is it going? Find out in our next instalment. You can sign up for updates on this series with the form below: