I run a printing and advertising shop. As a 2 person shop 10 years ago, we needed a way to keep track of all jobs in our shop. We needed to know what it was we were doing, and who it was for, just that simple. We quickly became overloaded with the work we were doing, and keeping track of jobs in a spreadsheet just wasn’t working anymore. We built a Microsoft Access database and about a year in ran into trouble when we had more than one person in the database at a time. When we looked at upgrading Access, it made more sense, cost wise, to move to the cloud. Our first solution was o.k, but they soon got purchased by a larger company. We moved to TeamDesk.
We used to track: Customer name, Quantity, Stock/Part number, Work Description, Date entered, workflow status and an ID. The status is the key to our database. It isn’t simply enough to know we have a job in shop; we have to know where that job is and what we are doing with it. I need to print out a sheet with all of our copy jobs on it. I have to hand a sheet to the designer with all the work that needs layouts. I want to be able to look at a report of all proofs that are out for approval and then call those customers to follow up and get the work moving to production. All this is possible with TeamDesk and it is refined and presented in a way that is useable by even my newest employees. I can check, update and edit it on my kindle or android smartphone.
Today, with TeamDesk, we have separate tables for Customers, their orders, their file uploads and history tracking. We capture more information about each order including the value, due date and job notes. Jobs that are due are highlighted. We have a calendar that shows what jobs are due on what days. We take a job all the way through the order, proofing, and production processes up to billing.
We track customer history, customer value, our mailing list for our physical newsletter, performance of our sales by month and year showing previous year or month data. We can see our average job value historically or by month. We can track our best sales days, months or years. We can search and duplicate our orders for fast, easy, error free data entry.
Last year we took our hand written forms and put them in the database too, so now when we enter a job, we aren’t re-handwriting all the job information in the physical word, we click a button and it fills out a job ticket in a Microsoft Word document for us.
It is a full CRM and job tracking software rolled into one. It combines both our printing, and our advertising products into one workflow that uses the same designers and billing process with a different path between one and another based on what the project is.
The learning curve wasn’t too bad. It’s a little more complicated than setting up a WordPress website, but it is infinitely more powerful for handling data. We’ve been able to implement several new improvements over our old systems.
The hardest part for me is was the conversion of our data and recognizing what it is I wanted to do with it. I had stretched our previous databases to the limit of their abilities. With TeamDesk I’m nowhere close yet. I have ideas for adding in online proofing, archives of customer work, capturing input from customers feedback and adding a purchase order program to tie into our order system. My options are only limited by the time I have available to me to work on it. The service staff responds to questions with helpful thought out answers and solutions.
It isn’t just a database; it is a custom written piece of software that manages my entire business that I wrote. I’m not dependent on some outside source telling me what I need or what I don’t. No one is charging me for extra modules or number of customer projects that are live.
Here is a big one for me: They are constantly improving the product. They take suggestions, ALL suggestions from the community and put them out where people can discuss them and show why they want what they want. They don’t develop in secret. I get to give input on what I think might benefit me an my company.