How Thimbleberry Financial Improved Its Employee Onboarding With Effective Documentation
As president and financial advisor at Thimbleberry Financial, Amy Walls leads a team of financial experts who help clients manage and grow their money for a purpose.
Having standard processes is integral to an organization’s success. So Amy created business processes in Microsoft Word documents to enhance their operations. However, her team had difficulty accessing the information they needed to perform their tasks.
When Amy’s business coach recommended SweetProcess, a workflow documentation software, she was reluctant to use it at first. But her reluctance soon changed to excitement. In this case study, Amy talks about how SweetProcess has helped her grow a more efficient team and streamline the operations at Thimbleberry Financial.
Thimbleberry Financial is a financial planning and wealth management institution in Portland, Oregon. It offers clients valuable advice to help them achieve their financial goals in the most efficient ways.
The team at Thimbleberry Financial prioritizes its relationship with clients to fully understand their needs and provide custom services to meet those needs.
Inspired by the local thimbleberry fruit that appeals to its immediate community, the organization takes pride in servicing its local community for the best results.
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The Pitfalls of Ineffective Documentation
As a financial advisor, Amy had mastered the art of creating effective operations manuals for her business. Her document was shared as a good example in her business training group. With such success, she assumed that the processes she outlined in Microsoft Word documents were clear enough to be used by her team members, but that wasn’t the case. They abandoned the documents and did things their own way.
“It wasn’t clear. When people wrote what they did, they wrote it differently, and then people had a hard time following it. You couldn’t check anything off,” Amy laments.
The realities of ineffective documentation became more glaring when the organization started having turnover. Team members couldn’t keep track of their activities.
“We were having quite a bit of turnover and that turnover had to do with a couple of things. One, our team being so small, was wearing too many hats. I’m keeping track of what I have to do with this work, but then I have a whole other hat over here that has a different body of work. Not having an easy reference for what had to happen made that hard,” she further complains.
Convinced that she had things under control with her documentation, Amy didn’t see the need to adopt a documentation tool. But she had to rethink this when her business started to experience a turnover and her business coach recommended SweetProcess.
“I was looking to solve that and that’s where my business coach said, ‘You need a better documentation system.’ I was reluctant. I didn’t think it was broken, but once I got in there and I started plugging in what we had in our Word document, I was like, okay, this is actually smooth. I can easily reference things,” Amy reveals.
Implementing SweetProcess made Amy realize that her initial processes weren’t as effective as she thought they were and that her team members struggled with using them.
“I truly didn’t think it would make that big of a difference. And I didn’t think that checking off things was hard. I didn’t think remembering all the pieces was that hard for our team,” she adds.
How did Amy move from a place of doubt to acknowledging the effectiveness of SweetProcess? Not even the assurance of her business coach could convince her. Filled with doubt, she didn’t believe that the software had anything good to offer until she saw the evidence.
Let’s look at some of the things that changed her perception of SweetProcess.
The quality of an organization’s employee onboarding and training process can make or break its workforce. When the onboarding and training process is well structured, employees learn better and faster. Moreover, they are confident in performing their tasks efficiently.
“Our new employees say they have never gone through a more organized onboarding. We have one or two SweetProcess procedures that they work through. They start on their first day. When they start, we literally have them get access to three things. One is their email. One is SweetProcess, and one was our Slack channel, but now it’s Teams,” Amy says.
According to Amy, the ability to create a standard training procedure is the biggest game-changer in using SweetProcess.
“We now have a training procedure. As part of that onboarding, they learn about how our training works. Every new hire has a board that lists everything in the company you might need to be trained on, and through that, they are assigned different things that they need to learn. They go through, and they first read and get familiar, and watch videos. Whatever SweetProcess contains, they get familiar with it.”
Documentation meets the mark when it enhances users’ work by giving them all the information they need. Although Amy had documented their processes in Microsoft Word, the documentation wasn’t comprehensive. Team members still needed information to get things done.
Using SweetProcess helped the team to see the inadequacies in the processes they created with Microsoft Word documents.
“Once we started plugging things into SweetProcess, I found the team was finding, ‘Oh, these other documentations are missing so many steps,’ and we found part of the things that makes our processes and procedures more difficult…because we do the comprehensive plan and wealth management, there’s lots of crossover between things,” Amy explains.
SweetProcess allows the team to link connected processes together, giving them the complete information they need to complete tasks with multiple layers. More interestingly, they have various options of documentation besides texts. With the information they need at their disposal in various formats, employees don’t have to ask questions about what they need to do.
“It has made it so that my time is not needed to explain the same things to every team member. We now make a lot of videos around training and those videos get added into SweetProcess and the questions get answered,” Amy says excitedly.
Workplace collaboration thrives when team members can access project files and make contributions with ease. Attaining this level of collaboration wasn’t possible even with the customer relationship management (CRM) software the team at Thimbleberry Financial was using. They were able to collaborate better when they brought SweetProcess into the mix.
“Our team decided that all our tasks had to have a SweetProcess link written into them and we would hyperlink to that SweetProcess. The solution there was great because if I created the SweetProcess then my parent planner couldn’t get into it because of the permission settings but I could get into theirs. So, by hyperlinking it, all our team members were able to access each other’s work,” Amy says.
Team members don’t always have to be available to keep the workflow moving. If anyone was indisposed for any reason, other team members could stand in for them.
“If I was out and there was a next step in one of my tasks that needed to be done, someone else could jump in and see what was next and take care of it. So it made it much easier,” she further points out.
As someone who has recorded huge success in streamlining her business with SweetProcess, Amy recommends that you adopt the software in your business too. But beyond that, she wants you to keep an open mind to understand the challenges that your team is facing in their work and seek ways to resolve those challenges with the right resources and software.
“By having SweetProcess, all of our team members can fix whatever is broken that they touch and they don’t have to come to me and say, ‘Hey, Amy, fix this.’ They actually are right there. ‘Oh, our financial planning procedure on X has an error in it because something changed. I’ll just go over here to the clean copy, and I’m going to edit it and send it through for approval.’”
Giving things the benefit of the doubt is necessary. Amy was reluctant to use SweetProcess because she felt it would make no impact, but a trial changed her perception. She no longer has to answer countless questions from her team members because the software has empowered them with all the resources they need to execute their tasks independently and efficiently.
Are you still unsure about using SweetProcess? Give it the benefit of the doubt by trying it out. SweetProcess offers a 14-day free trial without a credit card. Sign up for it with an open mind, and you’ll be glad you did.