MS SQL Server Membership (CRM) Database Conversion
National Database Solution for a Non-profit Trade Association
Student and Class Scheduling Application for a School
Event Management Application
Loan Management Solution for a Micro-finance Non-profit
Strategy Execution Management
Corporate Workgroup Productivity Solutions
Equipment Rental Fleet Maintenance The Problem: A major overseas heavy equipment rental company maintained its vehicle fleet usage and maintenance records on a series of Excel spreadsheets. The process of updating them had become cumbersome and required increasingly difficult coordination among the various departments during a busy work day. Information arrived late to headquarters which was located many miles away. Data entry resulted in numerous errors due to the large number of people entering the same information in multiple places.
The Solution: After a number of hours consulting on their management requirements and information flow processes we designed a new solution that could be implemented in QuickBase to replace the Excel workbooks with a single, integrated workgroup productivity software application with automated reminders and simple data entry. The company also wanted the solution to support administrative people who do not speak English - so we showed the how it could be implemented in languages other than English.
Advertising Sales Support The Problem: The advertising sales division of a major global company was looking for a simpler approach to share information internally about the services offered and revenue expectations for their multiple radio and TV station customers. The current information tracking system consisted of a series of spreadsheets that were updated by one admin person who then shared the updated versions with the appropriate managers.
The Solution: We were able to take their existing spreadsheets and import current data to QuickBase directly from the spreadsheets. After linking the tables in the new application we were able to show them a comprehensive yet easy-to-maintain workgroup productivity software application that would provide far more robust reporting that they were able to obtain and easily share with their existing approach to information tracking. Hotel Conference Booking and Scheduling The Problem: An international company “buys” blocks of hotel rooms for resale to conferences. The company is rapidly growing and is planning to add a large number of staff members in India to manage the company’s booking process for clients. The current booking and reservation tracking system relies on spreadsheets that are centrally updated. In order to expand the company, management must have the ability to see real-time information about the status of bookings and be able to access the information globally.
The Solution: We spent time with management reviewing their current spreadsheet processes and helped them translate their needs into a design for a new QuickBase workgroup productivity software application that would have simple data entry screens, carefully targeted reporting and global, real-time information retrieval. Practice Management for a Regional Accounting Firm The Problem: A very successful regional accounting firm had a very complex spreadsheet “application” for assigning employees to customer projects and for tracking workgroup progress. They wanted to include the process of qualifying client engagements, maintaining employee lists, tracking hours worked on projects and managing the overall progress of multiple projects. The company was familiar with QuickBase but wanted to have an outside group handle the first stage of application design and development.
The Solution: We spent time with management to understand their needs and translated their requirements and existing processes into a workgroup productivity software application that they could use to have access to real-time information about the status of projects as well as assigned and unassigned personnel. During the early phase of consulting around requirements we also helped them look down the road at how they might later want to use the same system for tracking new business development – creating a seamless process from lead tracking to project completion and reporting. Practice Management for an Outplacement Firm The Problem: A regional outplacement firm had a cyclical business that relied on outside consultants to provide the majority of consulting services delivered to client companies that wanted the firm to provide outplacement services to terminated employees and eventually a searchable database of resume summaries for recruiters who would access the information through the firm’s website. The firm used spreadsheets to track information about clients and outplacement candidates as well as to track the services that were delivered. Resumes provided by candidates were maintained in a central server without database-style categorization.
The Solution: We spent time with management reviewing their internal processes and converting their requirements into a central workgroup productivity software application that could be accessed by all of the consultants affiliated with the firm. The system facilitated setup of information about each candidate and designation of which consulting services each would use. The services were assigned to various consultants who would then receive automated notifications of their assignments with a link directly into the database records for them to fill in the results of their work. QuickBase reporting enabled management to track all service delivery and ensure proper coordination. The system also provided a facility for scheduling of office workspace and conference rooms to minimize appointment overlaps.
Private Equity Fund Project Tracking The Problem: A private equity fund had made an investment in a company that was remote from the offices of any of the “partners” involved in managing the investment. The investment required that various partners have an active role in various aspects of ongoing operations and coordination was attempted with the use of periodic conference calls. During the calls the partners were assigned projects for follow-up but there was no central solution for project tracking.
The Solution: We were able to provide the company with a simple workgroup productivity software application that enabled the lead project manager to record assignments during the course of conference calls with the team and use the system’s reporting as the basis for agendas for future calls.
Installer Scheduling for IT Outsourcing Company The Problem: A major division of a global IT outsourcing company used a complex series of spreadsheets to determine current availability of installers by date, time and location. The existing system required that project managers log the date, time, location and duration of service calls and match that to availability of permanent employees and contract installers. The system required daily emailing of spreadsheets among various supervisors and compilation of data into a single schedule for action.
The Solution: Using a relatively complex series of formulas and calculations available in QuickBase we created a single workgroup productivity software application that enabled one-time entry of customer projects and employee availability by supervisors in different locations. The system showed the number of available permanent employees in each region and easily enabled one designated supervisor to oversee transfer of personnel and hiring of part-time contract installers to meet daily shifting demands. The system provided a single site for optimizing installer availability with the goal of reducing wasted man-hours throughout the system. Workforce Scheduling Optimization for a PR/Marketing Firm The Problem: A leading PR/Marketing firm used a complex series of spreadsheets to optimize scheduling of team members to client projects. The system required a six-month forecast that was refined monthly and weekly. The process required managers to schedule meetings with everyone in attendance to ensure that personnel allocations were handled effectively. Managers had no view into the system in real-time as requirements changed. The scheduling caution required by the current system resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted time each year.
The Solution: We designed a comprehensive workgroup productivity software application for the firm that would enable managers to log into the system to change assignments in real time and view color-coded reports that showed over and under-scheduling of personnel during any month. Managers would be able to make entries without having combined meetings and they anticipated significant manpower scheduling efficiency to result from implementation.
Investment Opportunity Tracking for a Venture/Equity Firm The Problem: A growing venture fund had personnel in multiple locations and required a simple workgroup productivity software application that would give managers real time access to comprehensive data on prospective and pending investment opportunities. The firm wanted a single solution that would enable easy tracking of opportunities from the time they are identified through qualification, due diligence, syndication and closing.
The Solution: We combined CRM and Project Management functionality into a single solution with document management, a discussion forum, issue tracking, client and investment criteria and project stage tracking. The solution positioned the new firm to improve their competitive positioning with respect to prospective investments as well as syndication partners.
Advertising Campaign Management Solution The Problem: The advertising group within a major corporation used spreadsheets to handle project management and team assignments for many different types of major marketing campaigns. Senior management wanted to ensure that resources were being allocated in the most efficient possible manner and line managers wanted to have a solution that would enable better team collaboration and timely project execution.
The Solution: We designed a simple workgroup productivity software application that the marketing teams could use to setup the parameters and templates for project tracking. The system included preset standard lists of project tasks with “standard” task durations. Managers could change the duration of specific tasks which would reset the expected completion dates of future tasks and capture the variation against standard so that management could determine where recurring bottlenecks and delays occurred. The standard reporting capabilities of QuickBase would permit the teams to receive color-coded reports of project status to enable true exception-based management along with reminders of due dates.
Vehicle Maintenance Tracking Solution The Problem: A major corporation maintained a fleet of vehicles equipped with numerous sensitive hi-tech monitoring and tracking devices. Unexpected equipment malfunctions required closely-tracked repairs in order to optimize fleet utilization and ensure that service levels were maintained. Current systems depended on spreadsheet entry of details from repair work orders and development of periodic reports so that management could identify recurring systemic problems. The current system did not provide any automated reminders or notifications for people in the chain of repairs and the system required manual creation of project tracking assignments in a separate application for project follow-up.
The Solution: We designed a simple workgroup productivity software application that combined a number of critical functions into a single integrated solution that enabled timely entry of key data, automated notifications and reminders, specialized standard reporting and easy assignment of personnel for repair follow-up projects. 1031 Real Estate Exchange Software The Problem: A firm that specialized in handling 1031 property exchange transactions tracked all of their project information and activities on a combination of contact and calendar management software and spreadsheets as well as saving documents in an unrelated folder on a central server. The company wanted a single, integrated, affordable workgroup productivity software application to manage the entire process.
The Solution: Combining functionality from CRM and project management systems as well as custom-developed tables for tracking and reporting, we designed a single solution that would afford them the ability to track all transaction-related data as well as to ensure that regulatory compliance requirements were tracked and reported in the system for each transaction. CRM and Partner Relationship Management Customization The Problem: An early-stage product and services company on a limited budget was developing a new customer base that included a wide variety of types of customers – some being direct and others being “partners”. A traditional CRM solution wouldn’t fill the bill, as they wanted to be able to track a variety of categories and relationships, and they wanted to be able to have a single record that could be used for tracking a customer lead from inception all the way through closure and ongoing maintenance of the product/service purchased. The company was running with a lean staff located in various parts of the country. They wanted everyone to be kept apprised of customer status with remote access to the system, and they also wanted to be able to generate mass emails to customers and partners.
The Solution: We started with an “off-the-shelf” free application from the QuickBase library in order to minimize the client’s total project cost. Based on a series of conversations with the client we developed proposed modifications to incorporate the new categories and to incorporate the complete “lifecycle” tracking of a product/service from initial lead through ongoing maintenance, service and renewal. The system supports a variety of types of “client” and “partner” companies and contacts and will enable complete client “lifecycle” reporting.
Non-Profit Management Workgroup Productivity Solutions MS Access Membership (CRM) Database Conversion The Problem: A national plant society and public garden had a membership database originally developed using Microsoft Access. The organization maintained its records on a combination of the Access database and a variety of spreadsheets maintained on different computers. The Access database resided on a single computer so the person assigned to the computer was required to stop her daily work whenever someone else required database access. The database reporting was cumbersome and required regular investment to pay for a consultant who developed new reports and performed maintenance functions. The organization wanted to add new functionality to track new types of information as the organization grew and changed and wanted a single application with more robust reporting that was remotely accessible from various locations.
The Solution: In order to minimize disruption to the organization we designed a simple workgroup productivity software application based on the data contained in the original database. We started by exporting data from the existing Access database into spreadsheets and used the “import” function in QuickBase to create new tables with the original data and data fields. We then added new fields and linked the tables together using the system’s point-and-click table relationship builder. The advantage of this approach was that the system automatically generated a number of pre-built reports that provided management with a comprehensive view of membership information. As the final step in the project we created new tables for tracking information that was contained on a number of separate spreadsheets and imported the data from those sheets into the new integrated solution. The result is a system that can be accessed by staff from any computer and by members of the board of directors from anywhere in the country.
MS SQL Server Membership (CRM) Database Conversion The Problem: A membership-based non-profit organization was using a SQL Server-based application for tracking members and related information. The solution was one of a typical type “off-the-shelf” solution available to non-profits. The solution could not be customized so, as often happens, the organization was left trying to use various fields for things they were not intended for and was unable to obtain the type of reporting they desired. Further, the system ran on an older PC-based operating system on a single computer. The organization had migrated to become an “all Apple” environment and wanted a solution that could be accessed from any computer in the office. Further, they wanted to minimize system maintenance costs.
The Solution: We started by exporting their current data from the original system in spreadsheet format. We then imported it into a new, simple workgroup productivity software application based on the data contained in the original database. After adding and changing various fields we incorporated a number of new functions easily from modules in pre-built non-profit software from Crystal Bay that we had licensed to the organization. The last step was to add new reporting to focus on exactly the type of information they required from the system. A core advantage of the system was that members of the board of directors could be given access to the system for searching and updating contact information for members for which they had relationship management responsibility. Following implementation the organization was able to develop a companion solution for managing certain fundraising events during the year. National Database Solution for a Non-profit Trade Association The Problem: A national, early-stage non-profit trade association needed an online database of member organizations as part of the process of attracting new members. The database would be accessible by a variety of constituents who would use it to compile national service statistics as well as to access the services of the member organizations. The association had a preliminary list of members with a core set of data but had not been able to agree on the platform or cost for developing a database. The organization was operating on a very tight budget during the early growth stage and wanted to have a system that new members could access over the internet for automated signup
The Solution: Using the data import functionality in QuickBase we were able to import the association’s existing data and create a new application with the standardized reporting built into QuickBase. Over time we were able to add additional tables and functionality in order to expand the system to cover all anticipated information that the member organizations might submit. Using the initial database, the association was able to approach prospective members more easily to obtain the additional data to increase the utility of the system. A critical advantage in attracting new members will be the capability in QuickBase to develop different types of reports to accommodate each agency’s information requests. Student and Class Scheduling Application for a School The Problem: A small school was using a MS Access database for tracking students, scheduling classes and managing donations. The database had become badly corrupted over the years as various consultants and internal users tried to modify it and develop new reporting. They also wanted to have the capability of expanding the system to manage volunteer activities and enable volunteer time tracking.
The Solution: We were able to design a simple workgroup productivity software application based on the fields in the existing application so that data could be migrated easily from the MS Access application. The estimated cost of the project was one third of the cost of implementing their original MS Access application and offered the school with the additional benefit of significantly lower maintenance cost using the QuickBase online platform.
Event Management Application The Problem: A small non-profit with a small staff required a simple workgroup productivity software application that they could use to track the activities associated with their annual gala and live auction. They wanted to be able to have automated notification of changes and updates and color-coded reporting to help management focus easily on the activities that were off track. The organization was operating on a very tight budget.
The Solution: We were able to create a very simple, lean project and task tracking solution with just the fields that they would need for managing the various activities. The project manager was able to access the system from her home-office and the Executive Director was able to receive automated notification of changes and updates and could track progress by logging into the system remotely without having lengthy staff meetings to review and communicate information that could be conveyed in a much more efficient manner.
Loan Management Solution for a “Micro-finance” Non-profit The Problem: A startup non-profit focused on providing various types of loans to low income clients required a simple solution to enable clients and “partners” to post loan applications over the Internet, to enable the agency to add additional information related to loan approvals, to enable tracking of loan payments and to enable automated notifications. The managers of the non-profit all worked in different locations, and it was essential that they have an online solution to permit remote access as well as to minimize the cost of hardware and system maintenance. Their original system consisted of an emailed posting of a static web-based application form and a number of spreadsheets used to track client, loan and payment information.
The Solution: Based on the required data incorporated in the spreadsheets we were able to design a simple workgroup productivity software application that afforded internet access to remote users and provided the ability to have the relevant portions of the application form publicly available on the organization’s website when they reached that stage of growth. The solution integrated all the functions that were previously maintained separately and provided robust reporting, tracking and summarization of payment information. It also provided the organization with the ability to develop anonymous reporting based on demographic data provided by the loan applicants. This form of reporting will provide the organization with a more powerful case statement to attract future grant funding. Strategy Execution Management The Problem: A number of our client corporations and non-profit organizations that have used our affiliated consulting services for strategy execution have found that they want to have a simple process for embedding disciplined execution tracking processes into their organizational culture. Generally, only the largest organizations have been able to afford the sophisticated, and often customized, performance management software necessary to embed effective project and strategy execution management. For years managers have been looking for ways to implement effective exception-based management techniques across the organization. Doing so has not been affordable. Furthermore, most organizations, especially non-profit organizations, all too frequently create strategic plans that languish for lack of efficient and effective ways to track implementation.
The Solution: Using QuickBase, we have developed a simple workgroup productivity software application that can be customized very easily for use by organizations of varying level of sophistication. The application enables tracking of strategy from strategic goals through programs, projects and related tasks. Managers assign responsibilities, budgets, timelines and outcomes measures and are able to generate a wide variety of color-coded reports to show project status, timelines and variances from budget and due dates. Managers can easily extend the solution to include automated performance management processes and can then have their employee’s assigned tasks related directly to prioritized strategic goals. The result is better alignment and a clear understanding of project status and priorities across the organization and vertically up to the board level.