Knowledge is power, and when you’re an entrepreneur and running a small business, it’s a challenge to get sufficient people-power to catch all the information and news out there that's relevant to your business. Michelle Frome started her company C2I Intel to solve that problem by delivering that knowledge directly over the web, providing competitor and industry intelligence to help small businesses gain a leg up.
Keeping a non-technical founder and a software development team working in sync
Michelle’s path to starting a software company was indirect and not something she'd planned on. Brought on by a company to help build an electronic medical record product, she found that she needed a way to keep track of confusing and evolving regulations, as well as keep up with competitors. She worked with programmers in Vietnam to create the technology that would automate much of that work. She found that the product that she'd created wasn't just useful for electronic medical records, it was useful to any small business. Her and her team set out to build out her business intelligence software for every company.
With iDoneThis, it’s so much easier because I’m able to find out exactly where they are with projects, any issues that they’ve had with it, any software glitches, and what they’ve done to fix it.
But Michelle faced a major challenge that demoralizes many non-technical founders--she needed a way to deal with her own knowledge and skills gap with respect to her software team. “I’m not a software person," Michelle told us, "so I was constantly having to bug them all the time to find out what’s going on." The problem with that is that her need for information can often devolve into micromanagement.
Michelle found her solution in iDoneThis. Using iDoneThis, Michelle doesn't need to pull information out of her team--her team pushes information to her. "With iDoneThis, it’s so much easier because I’m able to find out exactly where they are with projects, any issues that they’ve had with it, any software glitches, and what they’ve done to fix it." All she has to do is check her email or sign on to the web, and all of the team's project updates are there in iDoneThis.
It goes both ways, too. Developer teams often struggle with lack of context on what they're building when they don't know what's happening on the customer development side of the business.
iDoneThis provides a single, comprehensive source of reference for the business side and the development side to work off of. The team can see from her own entries that she’s meeting and bringing on new clients, and everyone can hit the ground running. “Bringing on a lot of new clients can get really overwhelming, but now we have one platform that collects all the information," Michelle told us. "We’re not having to go hunt for it. It’s right there every morning!”
That easy communication also works when dealing with current and future investors. “It’s been nice because we’ve actually been able to chronicle our daily activities," Michelle comments. “We can forward the daily summaries over to our investors so they know where we are with projects, and we can show people how far we’ve come."
Making meetings for the distributed team less painful
From the outset, C2I Intel's team was distributed, with its domestic team dispersed throughout the U.S. and the overseas development team based in Vietnam. Working remotely often makes meetings painful, especially when they need to be synced across multiple timezones. Michelle needed a way to deal with her knowledge gap, between herself, the domestic team spread throughout the U.S., and the overseas team. Michelle found it especially challenging to be kept abreast of the Vietnam team’s accomplishments, given the twelve-hour time difference and language gap.
In addition, the company had ambitious growth plans. They were aiming to grow to one hundred within the next few months. Inefficient meetings are even more painful for companies that are trying to grow quickly and doubly so for distributed teams.
Using iDoneThis has translated to more efficient meetings and handling of information. As Michelle recalls, “there was so much time wasted going over the status of our project that we weren’t making any progress. This way, we don’t have to spend time recapping."
There was so much time wasted going over the status of our project that we weren’t making any progress. [With iDoneThis], we don’t have to spend time recapping.
Getting everyone on board with using a new tool is always a challenge, and the C2I Intel teams also felt some bumps in implementation. The ability to tailor the email delivery times became key for such a widely distributed team that spanned multiple international timezones. Michelle also emphasizes the importance of setting clear expectations not just for her team but herself. Like every great leader, Michelle lead by example in using iDoneThis, and her team followed suit.