Thursday, January 06, 2005

Groove Virtual Office is here to stay

Groove is a critical business tool, more valuable than email in my case. Thanks to Groove software I can efficiently manage and fullfil my two current jobs: one as an independent Groove consultant and the other running a small services company in Spain.

1) As an external Groove Networks consultant and contractor, Groove allows me to be “connected” and in permanent touch with the professional services team in Boston. Above everything it gives me visibility and awareness. Let me expand this idea: We have a space for managing client engagements, where I see what jobs I’ve been assigned to, what products + services the client has bought and why (i.e. business pain), contact details, etc..but the best thing of all is that I can also see who else is doing what and when, and this fact allows all of us on the pre-sales and consulting front to share insights into our jobs, the client in particular, common support incidents, tips into how to deliver a new course, how to approcah structured interviews, etc..As a consultant I can acknowledge and alert one of my pre-sales colleagues to contact a current account and offer a new product that I envision may be needed. Pre-sales people also alert me about the need to emphasize or focus on X, Y or Z during my engagement due to all the knowledge generated during the sales process.

On a separate space we manage training jobs, both online and on-site courses. Thanks to the “always-synchronised” Groove capability, I know who does what and when; that is, if one of my colleague trainers cannot make a course and it has been assigned to me I would be notified, also everyone knows my availability thanks to our calendar tool, etc. Also there is a Time-cards tool designed in Forms 2.5 where we input all of our hours of work, which are synchronised with Notes in the back-end, which later invoices the customer. All of it happens automatically. Of course all these spaces also host discussion boards where we share our ideas on how to improve the way we work and AOB.

Being part of these spaces allows me to permanently stay in synch with all work mates (i.e. members of same workspaces), who are mostly based in the Boston area. It breaks time-zone barriers (I’m based in Madrid these last few weeks) and organizational barriers (I’m self employed in this case), and provides me awareness without constantly having to check on progress.

2) Groove is also a big part of our small business in Spain. We use Groove as our CRM, our Intranet, our project management tool and as our shared file system. And we use for two main reasons: One is because it’s cost-efficient (it does require any servers, shared drives, etc..), and requires no admin, and two, because it drastically boostes our productivity.

We have 4 main spaces or space areas:
- CRM Space: This is the space where we store and synchronise our current and prospect account. Here we can check contact details of each customer, what our role in each account has been, who the main contact is, whether there are any future opportunities, etc. We use a customised version of the Customer Reference rapid solution. We’ve also added two more tools: a pipeline tool to manage our forecasts more efficiently and to be more reactive to customer demands; and a Time Cards tool where we input the hours spent on each account. This last tool is I would say one of the most crucial ones because it allows us to invoice customers in accordance with time and dev time spent.

- Team Space: This is where we go and check our availability, our incoming jobs, key deadlines, etc.. through a Team Calendar tool. Very easy but terribly valuable. My motto is Think Big, start Small! I like simple things that work. Also we have a discussion board where we share ideas, jokes, etc..this space is our own intranet, where our team dynamics happen.

- This third space I would say is just a collection of spaces, a folder of spaces. We have one for each customer, and this is where we manage deployments, support or relationship matters.

- The fourth space is a big GFS folder where we store most of our files. It’s synchronised and works nicely.

Some of those funny days, where our ISP plays with us and leaves us with drops of connectivity, well….the only (operational) thing that works internally in the office is Groove! We loose connection to our mail server, no Skype,…all it’s left is Groove and the good old phone!

Summing up, Groove is a critical part of my day-2-day jobs. You need figures? Well, as a consultant and working very closely with customers during the early stages of engagements, coming up with hard metrics is a must. I try quantifying how much money a tool like Groove saves to our business, however once the tool becomes a part of your day to day activities you stop thinking about figures, the value is so tangible that you cannot think of living/working without it. If you can figure out the ROI for your email or telephone send me a message.

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Anonymous virtual office said...

You will love to have your own virtual office. It gives you the flexibility that you need, saves you money and provides the benefits of the Internet revolution.

April 10, 2011 at 1:17 AM  

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