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When I was my only employee, it seemed easy to keep my business processes in my head and to remember where I left off with each client. That, of course, changed when I hired employees, none of whom listed “mind-reading” on their resume. We needed processes! Processes to ensure everybody was on the same page, and no tasks got lost; processes that saved more time than they demanded.It was time to find a task management tool. I thought my criteria were fairly straight forward: intuitive to use, structured but flexible, integration with common systems already in place.  I signed up for half a dozen free trials; I read and watched and clicked and explored and scratched my head, then made a face and deleted my subscription. 7 times. Then I found The back of my computer suddenly began to glow and I may have heard a choir of angels in the background (or maybe that was just the coffee maker). I became a customer, a fan, and an advocate.

Here are 3 of the ways has improved our efficiency:

1.     The Gmail Gadget! This is possibly the very best feature of If you use Google Apps (which we already did, and I think all businesses should), you get this nifty little gadget at the bottom of every email you send or receive.You can do just about everything from this gadget. However you decide to allocate the email, this smart little app will link it all together for you. Create new projects, assign tasks, add contacts, all without leaving your email. It will even create new contacts and automatically link them to companies where they work and people they correspond with. In a single click.

2.     Monday Morning Meetings. Every Monday starts with The whole staff comes together, regardless of where they are in the world (the wonders of a cloud-based business!) to review current projects, open opportunities and pending task lists. It’s so easy to visualize the week ahead, with clear priorities for everyone. Nothing gets lost or buried at the bottom of the email pile.

 3.     Pipelines that automate workflow. Like all great adaptable tools, is most beneficial with some customization. We started by brainstorming all of our repeated procedures (new client: meet with client, fill out intake form, create digital and paper files, draft engagement letter, etc.). Once formatted,’s clever pipelines totally automate this process.  When a new client emails me, I can propel them down the new client pipeline (from the handy Gmail Gadget!). Everyone’s tasks are pre-populated and you can see the project’s status at a glance. It is such a great way to keep track of where we are with each client. Now I always know when the paperwork is done and in the right place, who is responsible for the next step, and when the last correspondence took place.

I figure saves us 5 hours a week. Five hours a week we no longer spend searching for information, duplicating papers, backtracking, and clarifying instructions. That’s 250 hours per year we can spend meeting our clients’ expectations. I’d say that’s well worth the $29 per month

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On May 1, 2013

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