Thoughts on what businesses actually need from the Cloud, not what vendors wish they needed.

Chris Bliss

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Lessons from the Cloud: Capsule, Xero, and a Happy, Happy Customer

Our experience with Claybourne offers two valuable lessons

A few weeks ago we were called by a frantic young business owner. His problem? His business – a 3 month old roofing company – was winning more deals than the founders and crew could manage. They were hiring sales reps and managers fast, but needed a system for, well, everything. Task management, sales management, invoicing, P & L – they needed it all, and they needed it ASAP. Sound familiar?

Cloud Computing Swat Team, Converge

Our first call together was on a Thursday evening. The company – let’s call them Claybourne Roofing – was hiring 8(!) new sales reps and holding an orientation the following week, so we needed to implement immediately. As always, our approach was to identify how Claybourne worked (workflows, management structure) and what they needed (priorities, objectives). Then it’s a matter of choosing the right software (the fun part!).

After a few initial discussions, we chose Capsule CRM to manage their contacts and sales. Why? More than anything, they needed a dead-simple sales tool for their reps to track deals with. Capsule’s strengths play right into that – straightforward sales, task and contact management. The mobile interface is good for their traveling reps, and cases provided a place for simple project management. Capsule’s drawbacks – no permissions, no real calendar support – weren’t deal breakers, and the price was right. It’s a perfect fit.

As for accounting, we set them up with Xero – it’s an A+ piece of software, it integrates beautifully with Capsule, and, well, it’s the right tool for the job. Using Xero, Claybourne’s reps can invoice their clients, their invoices are recorded in the CRM, and managers get a bird’s eye view of incoming and outgoing money. Simple, efficient, brilliant.

Tuesday the following week we were done. Capsule and Xero were configured for their workflows, the data import was done, and the system was ready to go live. A few training webinars later and the company was off to the races. The job was done.

What does it all mean?

Claybourne Roofing isn’t unique. Thousands of small businesses face similar questions – what needs doing to win these prospects? What stages are my deals in? Which reps are performing well? How do I scale? Our experience with Claybourne offers two valuable lessons.

Lesson #1: It’s all about the cloud. The issues that small businesses face are easily and affordably addressed by cloud computing services. No more servers, no more headaches – there are powerful cloud-based systems for most small business processes, and they’re easy to adopt. The trick is in identifying the appropriate service, configuring it correctly, then training the employees who are using it. We had Claybourne up and running within 4 business days and they’ve never looked back. Boom.

Lesson #2: Consultants shouldn’t be resellers. We chose Capsule & Xero because they fit Claybourne Roofing’s workflows. If we were resellers (as many consultants are), and we sold Claybourne on software based on that reseller agreement (and not Claybourne’s needs), then this would have been a failed project. The customer would have ill-suited software. The vendor would have an unhappy customer. We would have a referral fee but a poor client relationship. Three-way fail.

Luckily, we’re not resellers and the project ended brilliantly. Another happy customer, another growing business, and another cloud win!

VM Associates is a New York City cloud computing consulting firm. We help companies transition into newer, better, smarter software. Contact us to talk about your business, the cloud, and how we might help.

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More Stories By Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.

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