When Sharrin Fuller started an accounting and office management consulting service in 2006, she couldn’t have imagined what the next 15 years had in store. After overseeing financial operations for multi-million dollar companies and providing other financial services for an impressive array of clients, she’d end up selling that company before moving onto her biggest challenge yet.
Now, as CEO of Glass Wallet Ventures, a consulting and advisory organization, she’s taken on a new adventure as she helps clients grow and optimize their financial operations, particularly in a remote-first world.
But juggling multiple clients—in addition to running a team of her own—has brought with it a host of unique challenges, especially when it comes to communication and project management.
Finding the right solution
For Sharrin, the road to choosing Teamwork to handle her team’s day-to-day work wasn’t always a smooth one. Even though Sharrin had a general idea of what she was looking for in a platform that could manage her complex client work, finding one that fit exactly what she and her team needed was a different matter. Discovering the happy medium between a platform that was affordable, but also not difficult to get up and running with, was easier said than done.
As an avid list-maker, Sharrin initially started using the task management app Todoist, but quickly realized her team’s needs required a more robust solution. From there, she switched to Asana, which did the job for a time. “Except there were too many plug-ins and too many different outsourced things that I had to add in to get what I needed,” she explained. “Asana wasn’t cutting it. It was too much, and we weren’t happy using it.”
More than anything, Sharrin was looking for a platform that offered maximum efficiency by keeping all of her team’s work in one place. With Asana, the multiple plug-ins and integrations she was forced to use made tasks more time-consuming and decreased her team’s productivity. Plus, it made onboarding and offboarding new team members increasingly challenging.
“Instead of having to remember, ‘Where did we put these things?’ we just want to be able to go to one place,” she said. “When you have 100 clients, you have to know this is where everything lives. It isn't efficient when you're scaling like that.”
Luckily, Sharrin’s operations manager came across Teamwork in her research. “We did a demo and realized, ‘This has all of the features that we’re looking for,’” she said. “We gave it a 30-day demo, and the team loved it.”
Building repeatable processes within Teamwork
Of particular importance for Sharrin and her team were the time tracking and templates features. “Every time we log tasks, we need to be able to track those times,” she said. “That was the biggest thing that drew us to Teamwork in the first place.”
As for templates, Sharrin called them a game-changer because they can automate repetitive work. “I try not to be a micromanager, but I'm very involved with templates in particular, because the only way we do things is by finding what works and doing it over and over again.”
Sharrin has a series of templates that she uses depending on the type of client she’s working with, whether it’s a tax-only client or a bookkeeping-only client. This helps her cut down on the time it would otherwise take to onboard each client individually. “The templates really allow us to add in the client, know exactly what we're doing right away, and then make any minor adjustments,” she said. “It's easier to do that than to reinvent the wheel every time and add everything back in.”
Creating repeatable processes—like adding templates for every new client—within Teamwork has freed up Sharrin to focus on other aspects of her businesses, allowing Teamwork to do the bulk of the more granular tasks for onboarding new clients.
“We have processes for pretty much everything [within Teamwork],” she said. “The minute our business development manager comes to me and says, ‘Hey, this person wants to sign on, here's the terms of the agreement,’ I immediately create a project in Teamwork, select my template, add in the client name, and that project pops up”.
Even though some of those repeatable tasks can be detail-oriented, Sharrin wouldn’t have it any other way. “I tell people that's what you need, especially in a company where we're doing 100 things across the board,” she said. “You have to be able to see if you left anything off.”
For recurring projects, Sharrin sets up filters to be able to see how her team is progressing, especially when it comes to impending deadlines. “It helps me be able to see which tasks are past due and reach out to see if [my team] needs help reprioritizing,” she explained.
Tags based on certain deadlines (like payroll or tax dates) help her get an overarching view of what tasks might need to be shuffled around. “I automate like crazy, so if somebody changes a date that I have a hard deadline tag on, I’ll get an email immediately.” From there, she can check back in with her team to get a clearer picture of why changes were made and see how they can still hit the deadline.
A better way to communicate with clients
Anyone who does client work knows that clear, timely communication is paramount. But it can be challenging to stay on top of the incoming and outgoing messages, notifications, and everything in between. That’s why Sharrin has found Teamwork Desk to be such an invaluable tool.
“Have you ever had 50 clients in 50 different Gmails to manage with eight people in the inbox?” she laughs. “It’s not possible!” She knew she needed a solution that would allow each member of her team to get visibility into their inbox: a place where everyone could collaborate at the same time on client-facing messages. That way, whenever a client emails in, everybody assigned to their specific inbox can respond.
“Having information living in different places is always the biggest challenge [of doing client work],” she adds. “Teamwork Desk puts all of the information in one location so that we don’t have to hunt anything down.”
Her team also takes advantage of Teamwork Chat, where they have a different channel for every client to better organize their work. “Whenever someone joins our team, I’m like, ‘Download that to your phone and get it moving, because this is how we communicate,’” Sharrin said. “It really gives us that open communication and visibility for our entire team.”
And thanks to Teamwork’s mobile apps, Sharrin can manage her company and respond as needed right from her phone, which she says is essential for communicating both with her team and clients.
At the end of the day, Sharrin’s goal for herself and her team is to do as much work within Teamwork as possible. In fact, she says the only software she uses outside of Teamwork are Google Drive, OnePassword, and Zoom. “For us, it’s really all about using Teamwork Projects, Desk, and Chat,” she said. “It’s all in one place and it just makes everything so much easier.”