Software solutions for small business owners is what we do best here at Diligent Assistant, however, we always run across the same issue. Where can we find a core system that does everything the client wants but doesn’t have the custom design price tag and works in the cloud for easy access?
A custom designed system is always the best way to go for long-term solutions to your business needs, yet it comes riddled with issues at the outset. With such a huge price tag (we are talking tens of thousands in many cases) it is often way out of a small business owners budget. Couple that with the fact that many business owners don’t know what they need their system to do early on as their business model is still in development. These systems are also usually installed on a company’s own internal servers and can only be accessed from set places. Cloud Software provides much more flexibility in when and how you access your business information.
The alternative is a mish-mash of systems that do various different things to give you everything you need, such as a CRM, Accounting System, Email Marketing, Project Management, appointments and e-mail and so on. These systems can add up in cost and if not seamlessly connected can result in errors, lost time through duplication and lost revenue.
I am currently working on a custom system build with a small software company called Less Paper Co, who I believe has created the perfect product for small business owners in the Field Service Segment. A completely customizable core system that doesn’t come with the huge price tag!
The system looks similar from client to client, with some standards such as dashboard and invoicing showing in the menus however the language is completely customizable as is the functionality of each module. The interface is clean and easy to use and it’s cloud-based software so you can access the system from anywhere that has an internet connection.
The process to get started was relatively easy, the only downside is that because the software is customizable there is no demo to try before you buy. Less Paper Co were able to send us some screenshots of what the system might look like and an important part of the process on our end was to create a wish list of our clients’ requirements and understand how they all linked together. This wish list was then sent to Less Paper who were able to advise what they could do (we got everything on our list) and provide us with the costs for the build and the monthly subscription cost.
Upon client approval of the costs, documents were signed in January and a deposit paid, then the project was scheduled for build in mid to late March. The first round of testing was completed late April, so it took about 4 weeks to build out the system to the required specifications.
Communication has been fantastic with Less Paper Co, we started off speaking to their sales team who were able to give us all the information we needed as far as system requirements were concerned and then handled all of the contract paperwork. In March we were handed over to their development team and communication has been via email, mostly with clarify questions as the development team are great at what they do but don’t fully understand every business need of their clients so they require additional clarification. Every step of the way, when one piece has been completed, we’ve been able to test and play around to get a feel for the system before going live. Sometimes playing in the system has lead to additional requests for small items such as re-naming areas to coincide with our clients’ internal language or adding email templates and automation which the Less Paper Team has been able to easily accommodate within the current scope of the project. There are a few items such as our request for an App that fell outside of the original scope and these will be revisited once the original system is up and running effectively.
As for the price – well it is also customized, dependant on your individual needs and wants but we can tell you that the build we just completed came in under $5kUS (way under) and costs $149 US per month for 5 users (field staff that do not access the system do not count towards the users but are still able to be scheduled). The system is going to probably half the time needed for invoicing, it will better enable orders to be kept track of both from a scheduling process and invoicing, it will assist with a very complicated payroll process and cut time down there and keep everything housed neatly in one place to save even more time looking for emailed orders and further correspondence. Overall the time saved on existing processes outweighs not only the monthly cost but also some of the custom build cost too.
We’ve been extremely impressed with the entire process and the end results of what Less Paper Company has been able to produce, and our clients are super happy too. We definitely recommend a look at Less Paper Co if you run any Field Service Based business.