Starburst Business Solutions is a professional services provider in Didsbury, Alberta, founded in 1996 by business expert Tammy Morales. The company’s team of four works remotely to provide a full-cycle bookkeeping service to around 50 small business clients. The service covers all the processes needed to keep a business’s financial statements up-to-date, including logging of income and expenses, payroll management and preparation of yearly financial reports.
Two years back, Starburst Business Solutions was facing a tricky situation. There was nothing wrong with the company’s team, who possessed several decades’ experience and an excellent reputation among their clients. The problem was the company’s approach to communications, which was posing obstacles to its daily operations and future prospects. “At that point, our communication was piecemeal,” says Tammy Morales, the company’s founder.
"As a team, we were staying in touch with each other by a mixture of phone, email and in-person meetings. It was really clunky."
Not only did this state of affairs make communicating cumbersome; it caused real problems with managing workload. The more work the company took on, the harder it became to communicate or find vital information in archived conversations.
According to Tammy, this brought the business to the point where it was going to stop taking new clients, due to the difficulty of managing its current work. Tammy found herself lying awake at night, trying to wrap her head around what needed to be done for which client. She hadn’t taken a holiday in years.
Starburst Business Solutions finally found Teamwork after Tammy had spent the best part of a year researching solutions for communications and task management. The difference has been night and day.
Starburst Business Solutions previously relied on manual methods like calendars and memos to keep track of repeat project work, and there was always a risk of essential dates falling through the cracks. Tammy and her team now set up recurring tasks in Teamwork, and set reminders, for most of their retainer work — setting custom date ranges to configure tasks to repeat on a certain day or date of a month.
"We do things like bank reconciliations and managing a client’s expense report every single month, so we needed the ability to have those tasks recurring and set up reminders."
Not only is this new approach more reliable than printed calendars and notes – it also lifted the burden of monitoring due tasks, as Tammy and her team receive reminders when a deadline is coming up.
The robust task management capabilities of Teamwork have helped the team to create detailed project plans that show exactly what needs to be done, and by who. The flexibility to create sub-tasks has helped accommodate the fine detail of work, while using dependencies means the team knows what order they need to complete tasks in.
The other side to Starburst Business Solutions’ requirements was the need for its project management platform to be equipped with integrated chat channels. This setup would enable its team to stay in touch throughout the day, without needing to navigate away from the task at hand. It was critical for the chat component to enable channels to be set up for each client, as this would provide clarity and ease-of-access on both sides of the B2B relationship. According to Tammy, the integration between Teamwork and Teamwork Chat has provided the key to solving her communications conundrum.
Where other platforms only partially met these criteria, Tammy found that Teamwork fully realized her vision.
“In the past, when we’ve wanted to ask a client a question about a receipt or something similar, we’ve tried using approaches like text messaging, and it has failed miserably,” Tammy explains.
"It’s just not on the client’s radar to pay attention, and their response at that point was this is interrupting what I’m in the middle of, and I don’t want it."
Creating dedicated Teamwork Chat channels for each relationship has solved this issue by giving Tammy and her clients a way to work together in a dedicated place, at a dedicated time, and within a channel that’s securely accessible to all relevant stakeholders.
Starburst Business Solutions hasn’t just adopted a new way to communicate internally and with clients. The cumulative effect of Teamwork and Teamwork Chat on Starburst Business Solutions has been revelatory.
“I now know what I have to do in the day, and I can leave my office at 5pm knowing we have not dropped the ball,” says Tammy.
"I feel like we are on top of it and ahead of the game, letting clients know things are coming up, rather than having them ringing me asking where things are. It has provided a huge relief. Two new team members, 20 new clients and 66% business growth."
Until Starburst Business Solutions started using Teamwork, Tammy and her team relied on face-to-face contact to get jobs done when phone or email wouldn’t suffice.
"We were within 10 minutes of each other, so we could meet in person if we needed to. But we needed to grow, and I was concerned we were limiting ourselves geographically in our growth."
Didsbury is a town of 5,000 people in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, so Tammy knew she’d have a better chance of finding the right people to hire if she could cast a wider net. In order to do that, she would need a communication solution fit for remote working.
That’s where Teamwork came in, and the impact has been significant. With the new platform in place, Starburst Business Solutions was able to add two new team members working from remote locations. The company’s portfolio of clients has since increased from around 30 to 50 – an astonishing gain of 66%. As Tammy puts it, the capability to work together remotely was “the key to allowing us to grow.”
Key to the new platform’s success was the ease of onboarding new team members, as Tammy would need to teach new users how to use it remotely. Teamwork passed this test at the first time of asking, when Tammy onboarded her third and fourth team members.
“I did a little training session on how to set up tasks, and they were up and running,” says Tammy.
The full and successful adoption of Teamwork by the Starburst Business Solutions team gave Tammy the confidence to take a holiday for the first time in years.
“I knew that I could leave, and my team would be able to find what they need and keep on top of the tasks that need to be done. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without Teamwork.” she says.
"We are able to provide our clients an exceptional service because we are on top of our projects – all thanks to Teamwork."