How New Media Retailer Closed the Knowledge Gap Among Its Employees
Working in the fast-paced industry of online marketing, General Manager and COO of New Media Retailer, Francesca Halberg, struggled with keeping up with the latest trends and communicating with all her employees. After spending several hours creating business procedures, the information would become obsolete in about a week, making their entire efforts a total waste. Tired of always playing catch up and the communication disconnect between employees, she and her team opted for a workflow management software solution. Read along as she shares her experience of how SweetProcess saved the day. First, let us know more about the organization.
About New Media Retailer
New Media Retailer is an online solutions company catering to small and medium-sized businesses. Using promotional tools for online marketing, they give these businesses exposure to their target audience, especially in the area of local search engine optimization (SEO). They also help businesses to manage their websites, social media, email marketing, and e-commerce stores, giving them a competitive edge.
For over 10 years New Media Retailer has had a grasp of the online business environment. By offering their expert services to businesses in their online marketing activities, these businesses get to focus on what they do best. It currently has an employee capacity of 25.
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The biggest challenges the organization battled with
Digital technology is ever-evolving. Online businesses scramble to keep up with new developments to stay relevant. After spending several hours documenting business processes and tagging them to a binder with print outs for every employee, New Media Retailer would realize that their efforts had become obsolete in a week or thereabouts due to new updates. This was always frustrating, states Halberg:
“It felt defeating, honestly. It took probably about 15 hours for us to get the binder to a point where we felt comfortable even rolling it out. And then, just how quickly things change in our industry, and all of a sudden, one week will go by, and we’d very quickly have several processes that were already out of date.”
There was also a huge knowledge gap between their in-office and remote employees. The employees at the office had access to certain information by virtue of being physically present—a luxury the remote employees did not have.
All these problems became more visible when the organization’s remote base grew bigger. It was clear that the problem needed to be fixed if they wanted to move forward.
How New Media Retailer resolved their business challenges with SweetProcess
Doing business today is highly competitive. Like going to battle without armor, many organizations set out with little or no preparation to beat the competition. There is nothing much you can do when you are up against businesses that are equipped with the latest workflow tools. The battle is lost even before it begins.
“Our biggest challenge was we didn’t necessarily have a system set in place previously,” says Halberg.
In the absence of a strong system, their hard work had very little impact. Fortunately, they realized the need for a system early enough and sought out SweetProcess.
In what ways has SweetProcess impacted the organization? You are about to find out.
1) Simplified documentation process
Documentation was a nightmare for Francesca and her team. If you have ever had to document business processes, you understand that it takes a lot of effort and time. You probably would not mind going through the stress, though, because it is worth it. But when all the work you have done becomes useless in no time due to new updates, forcing you to repeat the same task over and over again, you are bound to get frustrated.
“You’d probably laugh but each employee had a binder. And the binder had printouts in it that had how to do certain things. The issue is, in the industry that we work in, things change so often. Obviously, the binder was getting very out of date. So it was difficult to keep up with,” says Halberg.
With SweetProcess, they went from playing catch up to actually being on top of the game. They no longer had to create paperwork in binders that became outdated in a matter of days or weeks. Documenting their processes in the cloud, the system notifies them about updates and allows them to easily update files instead of starting all over from scratch.
2) Effective communication and knowledge distribution
Communication is at the center of all business processes. Information is passed on from person to person about happenings. A disconnect in communication creates a gap in knowledge distribution.
Some of their employees at the office had the privilege of working directly with the chief technology officer (CTO), so they had access to a lot of information. As they hired new employees who were working remotely, imparting knowledge to them via direct work was not sustainable.
“We didn’t know how good communication could be and how smoothly that could run your business. And I think that the biggest takeaway was, ‘Wow, a solution like this could exist and now just made our business more valuable.'”
By using SweetProcess, the company closed its communication and knowledge gap by having a centralized database.
3) Ensure quality assurance
An organization can be truly efficient when it has the capacity to replicate good performance continuously. This is attainable with a framework across the organization. When employees go about the same tasks with different procedures, the results might be similar but hardly the same. Recounting a typical workday before using SweetProcess, Halberg says:
“Honestly, it was a lot of fly by the seat of your pants. We had a lot of people who were doing maybe very similar types of tasks with a similar end-result but taking very different paths to get there. Some people were able to do things more efficiently on their own while other people were taking a longer route but still ending up at the same place.”
When a business operates by different procedures, it is difficult to figure out what is working and what is not working. A centralized procedure helps to figure out what works best and adopt it across the entire business for the best results.
4) Empower employees with a reference document
An organization that empowers its employees indirectly empowers itself. Employees work for the organization; when they have the resources to do their job well, the results show in their output.
“We didn’t have a guarantee that all of our employees could necessarily guide our customers in a way that we knew that they needed to simply because we didn’t have that information all in one spot.”
Very few organizations have the luxury of babysitting their employees. Getting asked the same questions over and over again can be exhausting, as Halberg can attest to:
“As the general manager, I was definitely spending a significant amount of my time answering a lot of employee questions…. We didn’t have a clear communication or a central communication hub where we could really house a lot of these frequently asked questions from our staff. I personally was spending a lot of my time individually training.”
If employees had a place to get all the information they needed, they would not be asking anyone. New Media Retailer nipped that problem in the bud with SweetProcess by having all their business procedures documented and saved in the system accessible by employees.
The necessity behind signing up for SweetProcess
Solving a problem begins with acknowledging its existence. The organization had always had an inkling that there was a problem with its employee onboarding training but could not pinpoint it until a former employee experienced some pain points during his onboarding training and voiced his concerns. It became an additional reason why they needed to get a system in place to tackle their operational challenges. They embarked on a search for a solution and found SweetProcess.
Rather than allowing everyone in the organization to use the system from the get-go, the organization started with its management officials to get a grasp of it before introducing it to others.
“We started with our management team and really encouraged them to get the priority procedures into place before we really rolled it out to everybody. We started with different departments. We started first with our customer service department, and really had them work through it…. And I feel like even just starting with that small group of people, it was really clear just the level of clarity that we had and how many communication tools could be put into one place,” says Halberg.
However, Halberg had some initial doubts about its effectiveness:
“We had these systems in place where we were doing the binders and doing everything manually that obviously crashed and burned. Then we were trying to use Google Docs, and trying to make the solutions work for us…. For me personally, I had invested such significant amounts of time into the first process, the second process Google Docs. And then introducing the third one…”
Having used manual documentation methods in the past with no tangible results, Halberg was afraid that the same thing might happen.
Did signing up for SweetProcess turn out to be a good or bad decision?
From what Halberg had to say, it was obviously a good decision:
“We had a really clear picture of exactly what was going on and what everybody was doing that we never really had before. Jumping back to a previous solution, with Google Docs, although we were able to lay things out like one, two, three, four, five, we never knew who was utilizing it, where they were in it, and how they could really make it work for themselves. Fast forward to SweetProcess, and you can check off exactly where you are at in creating projects for specific customers. It’s really fine-tuned the process for us in such a large way which has just been super valuable for our organization as a whole.”
A win for one, a win for all
As stated earlier, when employees win at the workplace, the organization wins too. SweetProcess creates an enabling environment for everyone to be great.
“It’s cleared up a lot of frustrations, which has definitely benefited our culture. It also has given our staff the opportunity to take on new projects learning about digital ads, learning more about e-commerce, taking on additional customers…. They are really able to excel now and the sky’s the limit.”
The company now has more time to focus more on its goal of helping small businesses succeed.
“It’s really allowed us the opportunity to get back to the nuts and bolts of why we are here every day. Why we are helping these small businesses succeed and compete against some of these large retailers, and it’s really allowed us to focus on especially our customer service components and just free up a lot of free time to get back to that.”
Scaling onto new territories
With their business processes in great shape, New Media Retailer is expanding its coast, venturing into new areas of business. They recently launched a digital ads division, Socom Media. And with the results they have achieved with SweetProcess, they are adopting it in their new venture.
“We’ve recently launched our digital ads division over the past six months. I’d say that our next biggest challenge is just making sure that all of our staff have the same access to all of the new information that goes along with digital ads…. Figuring out how this new department fits in with our production department and our customer service department and how we can offer this new tool that, again, can really help these small businesses succeed online.”
One thing is clear: if they did it before with a standardized system, they can do it again.
You too can replicate their success in your business, tailoring it to your unique business needs. Sign up for a SweetProcess 14-day free trial, and see how it goes.