Getting beyond the chaos with Teamwork

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Beyond the Chaos helps small professional services businesses owners (up to 25 employees) simplify their operations and manage projects to help them grow their business and get their lives back. The business operates much like an in-house chief operating officer but scaled down to small business needs.

Beyond the Chaos, a Teamwork Partner, has implemented Teamwork within small businesses for several years because they can rely on the thorough product to be the perfect space for its customers. This story shares the results of how Teamwork has helped to improve clients’ businesses.

At Beyond the Chaos, one of our go-to solutions in our tool belt for our internal work and our clients is Teamwork. We find the before and after of using Teamwork is like night and day.

The funny part is that some of our clients have come to us saying “Teamwork doesn’t work for us.” What we quickly discover is that nothing is usually working for those clients. It’s not a flaw in Teamwork; it’s a flaw in the way they approach Teamwork.

So many small businesses think they can acquire a tool and their problems are just auto-magically solved. That’s just not the case. I liken it to a hammer and nail being left close to a picture and hoping that it gets hung on the correct wall and height.

That doesn’t even consider whether the picture has been equipped with a hanging kit or that you’re in the correct room to start with.

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Using such a powerful tool like Teamwork requires putting some structure around it. This is what we help clients do. It also requires training and consistency of use to be successful.

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For example, is one team using boards and another task lists, while a third uses the Gantt chart? All of the methods might solve the project management challenge, but without consistency of use, it is hard to get a big picture view of what’s going on. And, it is equally as hard to train a new team member.

Our clients spread across many industries and they all can use Teamwork, whether it’s accounting boutiques, real estate agents, software developers, or marketing agencies. In some cases, they arrived at Beyond the Chaos without a project management tool at all.

And like we mentioned earlier,  some businesses were already using Teamwork but had hundreds of late tasks and no idea where any project stood. There are some cases where they were using Teamwork pretty well but didn’t know how to take the next step.

A real estate agent gets his family time

Let’s start with a real estate agent who used Google Sheets and a written process to run his business. These all sound like good things, but he had written so many processes throughout the years that they were confusing and overwhelming.

He was frustrated that he couldn’t follow his process. (And even as a process-oriented person, I was overwhelmed!) 

To find out what he needed to do on a specific day, he had to review several different Google Docs and Google Sheets to create a new Google Sheet to follow for that day. The steps for a real estate agent to work with a buyer or seller are pretty consistent.

So, we created a template for buyers and a template for sellers and opened projects with task lists and milestones (like earnest checks received and due diligence complete) that corresponded to those types of clients. 

All of the processes were consolidated into the template, so all of those other reference documents became obsolete. We also created a template for events he hosted and established an admin project to house tasks that were related to the overall business and not to a specific buyer/seller. 

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An even bigger win was that his admin/operations manager is now able to help so much more because she has a complete overview of where everything stands. She is able to act as a project manager to facilitate tasks on the real estate agent’s behalf with his clients and vendors.

The process is clear to her and she now has control of things to ensure everything happens on time. 

One of the other benefits was being able to import all the information from Trello and Basecamp to keep his past information combined in one place – in case he ever needs to reference it in the future. Very few products allow such simple imports.

Teamwork’s consolidation was a great asset as many bits and pieces over time were in many different tools. Teamwork created the structure the real estate agent wanted in order to reach his goal of spending more time with his family.

With his business running smoothly, he reached that goal and took a full month off to be with his family – something that had not happened in a long time.

A digital marketing agency creates a happier team

When a digital marketing agency approached Beyond the Chaos to help them better use Teamwork, we had no idea of the challenges they were dealing with. As a small company, the team was scraping and scratching to achieve their clients’ needs – essentially duct-taping things together to make it work. 

They hadn’t taken time to create a process. The business partners weren’t on the same page of what was needed to go to the next level. One partner thought it should be around structure, another favored adding more people, and the third was only privy to part of the work, which seemed to be going OK.

The rest of the team members were using Teamwork inconsistently and had no single source of truth for their projects and their clients. The agency wanted to scale as a business and the current setup wasn’t scalable.

We started by assessing the agency overall. We landed on Teamwork being the tool that would be the single source of truth. We spent a short time (less than 2 weeks) getting a handle on the existing projects. 

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With a fractional and temporary Beyond the Chaos project manager in place, we got their web developer some much-needed support and organization. By structuring his project tasks in Teamwork, all of a sudden, he was capable of accomplishing more work.

Plus, management stopped looking at him as a problem child and instead had a better grasp of everything he was handling. Meanwhile, we worked on templates and processes to make the agency run more effectively.

We housed the process docs in Teamwork in Notebooks and categorized them so that people could find the reference they needed. The agency hired a part-time project manager and our fractional project manager was able to hand off the work to her. 

There’s still plenty to do, but for now, the agency is developing routines after embracing so much change. They can take on more projects, which means more billable hours and revenue for them.

And the biggest outcome? The team is happy.

They better understand what is needed from them and they can manage those needs in an organized and structured way. It’s safe to say, Teamwork creates happy teams!

A small digital marketing agency takes it u a notch

Users of Teamwork since 2014, this digital marketing agency could show us a thing or two as we worked with them. But, they were ready to look at the processes to take the work off the partners’ shoulders so the company could scale. 

One partner was the project manager and the salesperson. The other worked on the creative. They also worked with overseas team members. Time zones and team communication were challenges, as was the lack of life outside of work for the partners. They had embraced free and low-cost tools and relied on Teamwork to help them track their projects.

We talked through quite a few challenges, including bureaucracy, but a lack of process. They also had processes, but they were overly complicated. Inconsistent SOPs existed and there was no place to store them.

Plus, the handoffs were messy between team members. The team often spent excess time repeatedly going over the same ground. Teamwork was the single source of truth, but the team wasn’t on the same page.

We encouraged the use of a project manager and demonstrated the benefit by inserting ourselves as fractional and temporary in that spot. With dedicated eyes on Teamwork, the partners were able to easily concentrate on other parts of the business.

This demonstration encouraged them to hire a project manager. We helped write the job description and interviewed the final candidates to help make their decision and handed off the day-to-day to the new project manager.

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Meanwhile, we wrote some processes and modeled how they should be stored in Teamwork. The full-time project manager was able to take those over and complete them.

With a project manager running Teamwork, the business settled into the structure and ran more smoothly.

Teamwork saves a software company

A software development company came to Beyond the Chaos on the brink of disaster. It had put all its eggs in one basket with one huge client, but the project hadn’t gone well.

The team was behind and the company was out of money. No one was sure what still had to be done to complete the project.

We jumped in as firefighters and helped reset the relationship. The company was using Smartsheet to run the project and Basecamp to manage others. To create a single source of truth across the business and its clients, we implemented Teamwork. 

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We set up ways to manage all the projects and track the contractors’ time more closely. We also created some SOPs around delivering code, which required the developer to create a video on how each deliverable was used, to check his work, and to demo how to use the new piece of software.

Fast forward four years through a pandemic and an economic crisis, the same company is running systemized projects. It bills by banks of hours - in advance now - to prevent running out of money.

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It's all managed through Teamwork’s fabulous budget tool. The types of work it takes on are now simplified and repeatable and Teamwork’s templates are used to set up all the tasks (including quality control) from the get-go.

And guess what, that original fire creator client? Still a client!

The company maintains a fully delivered project, using Teamwork to keep track of new edits and requests. It is also back in the black and is better at tracking scope, time, and budget on all its clients.

Overall, Teamwork can be incredibly powerful. But with great power comes great responsibility. And that’s where Teamwork’s partners can help businesses get set up for success.

If you need help hanging that picture, let Beyond the Chaos show you how to use the hammer and nail. Contact us today.

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