Last week, I unveiled the Tech Stack Framework and today we’re going to run the Tech of Business through the framework. I mentioned near the end of last week’s episode that the framework can and likely should be gone through multiple times.
I value your time and thank you for taking the time to listen and share each and every podcast episode. As I looked at the tools I use, it became clear that the most advantageous part of my tech stack for us to dig into is my client on-boarding process. This is the exact set of tools and processes that we go through in the early stages of working together.
Now, let’s get started!
I attract clients to my business through my Thinkific Experts listing – https://experts.thinkific.com/courses/jaime-slutzky , this podcast, my websites, being a guest on podcasts and web shows, organic social media and referrals and recommendations.
Once you think you might want to work with me, we’ll have a conversation so that we can vet one another and discuss the potential relationship.
From there, I put together a proposal and send it off. And once it’s signed, we move into payment and project setup….
Whoa, that’s a lot of steps to go through before getting to our on-boarding!
In fact, because there are so many steps, I am going to sidetrack slightly from the on-boarding tech to drop the tech used in this pre-client phase. Here the goal is to be hired after an initial outreach… that initial outreach may be via social media, email or an intake form on my website.
Once I determine that the initial request is within my expertise and availability, I will send you an Acuity Scheduling calendar scheduling link. I have several scheduling links that I may send. The only difference between them is the title that goes on the appointment to make it perfectly clear to both of us what we are going to be discussing.
I have integrated Acuity Scheduling with my Google Calendar so that I have accurate availability listed. Acuity also sends confirmation and reminder emails to both you and me. Inside those emails is a zoom link for the conversation.
After our conversation, I will create a custom proposal, using one of several templates that I store in Word 365. I use the Adobe Acrobat conversion tool to turn the Word document into a PDF which I then send over for approval and signature using Adobe Documents with Track and Sign.
I’ve used several different signing tools in the past and chose Adobe Acrobat DC a couple of years ago because it offers additional functionality that is relevant in my business. Many business owners I know who do one on one services will use more of an all-in-one system like 17 Hats or Dubsado.
Okay, back to our flow… once you sign the document, Adobe notifies me and I create your invoice in Wave Apps. I use Wave to also send the invoice to you, rather than going back into my primary email system to send it along. On the Wave dashboard I’m able to see the status of your invoice.
Oh, and I anticipate changing my accounting and invoicing system before the end of the year. I’m looking at QuickBooks and looking into reducing the amount of steps involved before we even engage in the client on-boarding.
Right now – there is minimal automation in this process even though I go through it multiple times each week.
To recap, the tools I use are:
- Gravity Forms on my websites
- Facebook messenger
- Outlook 365 (for email)
- Acuity Scheduling
- Google Calendar
- Word 365
- Adobe Acrobat DC
- Wave Apps
Let’s pull out the Tech Stack Framework. The entire pre-client phase sits within the larger tech stack blueprint, but the Tech Stack Framework can certainly be used in isolation on this small section of my business. So you and I are the stakeholders and as I mentioned earlier, the goal is to enter into a client relationship.
Moving into the pyramid, the base layer tools are Acuity Scheduling, Zoom and Adobe Acrobat DC. And moving up a layer, the support layer tools will make those base tools work better. All the other tools fall into the support layer. There is nothing at the growth layer because it is a one-to-one relationship.
Yay… we’re finally at client on-boarding!
The stakeholders here are the same as they were in the early stage, you and me.
The goal is to set us up for a successful working relationship. Note please, that there is nothing about the actual work, just the setup process so that we are poised to work efficiently together.
To work efficiently together, I’ve determined that we need to have a means for asynchronous communication, a way to organize documents, images, videos, brand assets and other collateral, a secure method for sharing passwords or generating unique passwords, task management and milestone tracking. And depending on the duration and complexity of the project, we often also have real time communication needs.
I primarily use Basecamp for project management and if no other preference is supplied by you, then that’s what we will use. I am willing and able to use Trello or Asana. If we elect to use one of those tools, we will also use Slack.
Basecamp is one of our Base tools. It supplies the structure for asynchronous communication, content and asset collection, task management and milestone tracking. I suggest you setup LastPass for password management and sharing. Depending on the project we’re undertaking I will need you to provide some passwords to me and I may be creating passwords for you. Using LastPass allows the sharing of them to be done securely. I’ve got an upcoming episode on LastPass – I haven’t recorded it yet, so if you have any specific questions email me firstname.lastname@example.org or post them in the Tech of Business Community on Facebook.
In Basecamp, the campfire is an ongoing stream of consciousness communication tool. There are not breakpoints. It is ideally suited for banter or conversation that will result in creation of new tasks, action items or milestones. I liken this to text messages, WhatsApp, or direct messages within social media platforms.
Basecamp messages are a great way to contain a topic to an isolated stream. They are used to discuss multiple tasks simultaneously or to discuss a single topic that will become a To Do List or task. Our Basecamp messages are akin to email threads but are kept inside the project and not in the inbox! I do not work with clients via email – it’s just not the best place for us to hang out.
The main feature of Basecamp is the To Do Lists with their associated tasks. This is where work is tracked and marked as complete. Tasks can be assigned to individuals, given start and end dates. Each task and to do list can be commented on and contain a discussion. All tasks with dates on them will also appear on the timeline, so that we have a visual representation of the project.
And, Basecamp also has a repository for file uploads. It has sub-folders and revision history. It’s a great feature… but sometimes, all the built in tools in Basecamp create redundant processes as we overlap our businesses for our new relationship. And this is an ideal time to move into the next layer of the Tech Stack Framework.
As you recall, the next layer is the Support layer. These are the tools that we are going to use to make our goal (to work efficiently together) even more achievable. These will include your primary cloud storage tool, Google Drive (which is my primary cloud storage tool), Acuity Scheduling, and Zoom, depending on the complexity of the project.
Let’s go back to the redundant processes I mentioned a few moments ago. If we were to upload all documents natively to Basecamp, then we would be introducing manual steps of downloading docs and images and such before uploading them. Which is why it’s so awesome that we can post full cloud storage locations inside Basecamp or paste urls from a tool into the relevant place in Basecamp. This is how we augment the functionality while reducing redundant processes.
Most communication between us will be asynchronous. We don’t need to have back and forth real time communication to complete tasks or projects. But sometimes, it makes sense to meet on zoom to make decisions, strategize or otherwise make real time progress. And for this, I open up my schedule via Acuity. I provide you with a unique link exactly for our project, so that it restricts the number of appointments we have and so on. The idea isn’t that I want to limit your access to me, it’s that from my years of working with clients, I find that it’s far better to have text-based communication for the “paper-trail”. Makes it easier to turn action items into tasks and track their progress.
I think we’re done with the support layer. So, let’s move onto the growth layer. Here again, my goal is to continue to make things as easy as possible. And I will use Zapier to keep all our tech tools talking to one another if they don’t talk to each other natively. That means adding things like our Acuity Appointments to the Basecamp schedule or otherwise keeping our disparate tools connected without manual processes. I’d rather set things up right at the outset and know that you and I are both confident that we have the right tools in place for supporting our efforts.
The final step of the on-boarding process is to document how, when and why to use each of the tools. We’ve gone into that in quite a bit of detail here in this episode. In a client on-board process, I’d likely use Zoom to walk you through the process and we would record the session and upload it to Basecamp. Or, if we didn’t feel that a real time walk through was needed, I’d record a walk through for you.
So there we have it. We’ve gone through the Tech Stack Framework for my client on-boarding process. And I hope you can now see how the framework can be applied one segment at a time so that when we complete the work, you’ve got a beautiful and functional tech stack blueprint.
This segment of my blueprint makes it super easy for me to know every step of the on-boarding process… and now, I have to invite you to go through this process with me!
Let’s create your tech stack blueprint and bring clarity to the tech in your business.
A lot of podcasts that I’ve been listening to lately have been talking about the financial health of our businesses. And that’s to be expected at this time of year, when spending in our personal lives increases and we start to set our sights on the new year.
This is also the time to talk about the tech health of our businesses – which is part of the reason I have been focusing on the Tech Stack Framework this week and last. I’m opening up a small number of Virtual CTO client spots in December and if you’re interested in going through the Framework, now is a great time to book a consultation call with me.
Best way to book a call is to click on the Virtual CTO button on https://techofbusiness.com/work-with-me/
Thank you so much for hanging out with me on the Tech of Business podcast today. Let’s connect in the Tech of Business Community on Facebook which you can get to at https://techofbusiness.com/community/. I cannot wait to hear what resonated most with you from today’s episode!