Posted by: superduperadmin on Jan 3, 2009
I often kid with my wife, friends and family about our/my business being like a second wife that is much needier than my “
;first” wife. Not that my wife is needy, she is actually very independent. However, the point I make is that owning and managing a small business can be very demanding on your time and mental bandwidth. One of the other challenging things with many small businesses is the required office space and software and hardware resources required typically to get everyone working to serve your customers in a common direction. So this is where the idea of a Virtual Office became so appealing to me. We started our business we spent a lot on building out office space and investing in assets that today actually collect dust since we have shifted everything to a virtual space. I once thought I would have a team of busy beavers working on our little office space and we would have long winded conversations around the water cooler as in most traditional offices. I was wrong though, since meetings on site became much less frequent and as our workforce grew with independent consultants located across the United States and abroad. So this has actually saved us a lot of money since we have lower facility maintenance costs and overhead. It also provided our workforce to have more freedom and independence, thus improving their productivity and increasing loyalty.
The other key component of a Virtual Office is that the tools typically have a variety of business automations that can, if you configure them correctly, actually let your business talk to you, your workforce and your customer in real-time. With event triggered workflows and collaboration tools you can interact and respond faster and much more efficient than ever before. I am a bit of a geek so I like web based tools and have spent the better part of the last 10 years researching and experimenting and even building from the ground up tools to fulfill this dream of a Virtual Office that could connect a geographically dispersed workforce and offer the real time collaboration that made doing business fun.
Allas… all the pieces have come together. A few years back I set out to start a new business model to support small businesses with the web based tools that can hopefully make their lives easier, reduce costs and give them more freedom and independence and control from their businesses. I wanted to learn from many mistakes either I had made in the past 20 years of being an entrepreneur or that I had seen others make. So… on this road I found some great technology tools, some smart people to help us integrate them and build a platform for delivering such a powerful capability.
We use the info@hand Customer Relationship Business Management system with a Joomla Customer portal and sync it with Quick Books. This not only gives us complete ecommerce transaction management but an effective marketing and communication interface with our customers, stakeholders and workforce. We have leveraged several workflows to communicate and respond quickly to the needs of our customers and stay informed as project life cycles progress. It is a well proven fact that this kind of customer relationship management significantly reduces costs and builds customer loyalty when applied correctly.
The closer for me was the new Glueble Suite . This is like merging Skype, Yahoo, linked in, facebook, myspace, youtube and Go-to-meeting all in one. In addition to the great desktop collaboration client there is a robust social community for interacting with real live people. This offers us and our customers private collaboration workspaces for communicating in real-time with video, audio, chat while sharing desktops, documents or delivering presentations. It also allows us to build personal relationships and keep the process of doing business interactive and enjoyable.
Oh yea and by the way this "Virtual Office" concept is all very "Green" friendly so you can feel good about the investment required to get set-up. In the end it will save you a ton of cash if you are smart about how you do it.
All-n-all it has been a lot of work to get this all implemented in a way that impacts our bottom line as intended but now that we are over the hump I have more quality time with my “first” wife, friends and family, our workforce is much less stressed since our business communicates with them, our customers are much happier since they get faster and more responsive attention and we are all having a lot more fun doing business together from all corners of the world.
Now with that said, I am off to Brazil for a month… but you will hardly notice.
For more information about how you can get your business integrated with a Virtual Office Suite visit the following web sites: www.cnpintegrations.com
written by Patrick Luczak, December 14, 2010