So you’re looking to use WorkflowMax in your business …?
Good decision, now comes the critical part: Implementation!!
One of the most important things to think about prior to any software migration or implementation is to scope the requirements.
As part of this article I tried to think about the questions you should ask yourself as a business who wants to start using WorkflowMax as a job or project management system. The more I think about this, the more difficult it is to know without asking questions in more detail, and knowing more about your individual business but here’s some starters below …
- How do you bill jobs out (hourly or project based, or some other combination)?
- How many different items (costs, not labour based) do you sell?
- How many tasks do you bill out (i.e. design, development etc.) and how are the rates for these decided?
- How many customers do you have?
- How many invoices do you produce per month?
- How many PO’s do you produce per month?
- How many suppliers do you run PO’s for?
- What is the monthly turnover?
- How many staff do you have in the office?
- How many staff do you have in the field?
- What accounting program are you using now?
- What quoting method do you use now?
These questions above will give you an idea of the size of task in moving your practice or agency onto WorkflowMax, but the next thing to think about is the workflows and methods that you currently have in place, as well as where your data and information is held.
If you have workflow diagrams within your business then this is a brilliant time to dust them off and make sure they are up to scratch. If you don’t have them, I can’t recommend doing them now highly enough. There are sites such as Lucidchart where you can design these up for a very low fee (even free if they are small enough). However, you should consider that you may have to change processes as part of this merger, as information will be handled in different (and often better) ways. Just because you’ve done something a certain way in an old system for 15 years, it doesn’t mean it’s the only, or best, way to do it going forward.
Next, where is your data and information at the moment! This is sometimes the toughest question to answer because all too often it’s “in our directors head” and there are no policies and procedures around what happens in the day to day running of the agency. That said, most people have some kind of master system for each area of information, even if it’s Microsoft Outlook for contacts, your accounting program for items and suppliers, or something else along similar lines.
Next Steps …
So now you should have a map of the current processes within your business, an idea of where the information is going to come from, as well as a scope of how you want your new WorkflowMax job management system to handle your data in the future. This is everything you need to get a good implementation up and running, and now it’s on to the fun stuff – Setup and Admin!
All of the setup discussed in this area is available from the Admin tab in WorkflowMax (right hand side of the top toolbar). We recommend you review the areas below prior to using the system as they can have a profound effect on workflows and how you handle information.
- Users – make sure to invite everybody who needs access within your company. This is done by going to Admin > Staff, and then filling in the information. Name, email address and other personal information is all fairly obvious, but pay close attention to the security settings at the bottom of the page as you can set EXACTLY what each user has access to. For example, an accounts person may need to invoice and run reports in the system, but has no access to leads or quoting. Also ensure you have accurate cost rates and bill rates per employee.
- Preferences – review each and every option here and use this time as a good opportunity to set some ‘business rules’ for how you are going to work going forward. If you don’t currently have a standard answer for some of the items in the Preferences section, PLEASE think about them. I’ve seen too many businesses who have no processes and procedures and therefore everything lies in the directors head, that’s what we are keen to avoid by using a job management system such as WorkflowMax. There is a particularly good video tutorial on the Preferences area in WorkflowMax Support.
- Personalise – there are some useful fields in this section for customising things such as email defaults, email addresses to use for customers and also branding for your system. Although not essential to customise before using WorkflowMax, it’s a good one to check through.
- Notifications – there are lots of ways to use notifications in the system, both for some fairly standard events such as a job finishing right through to advanced things like cost vs budget allocations. Check through the two main tabs here and add notifications as you wish. If you are unsure, I recommend to clients to set up many notifications to see how useful they are, then remove the ones you feel that you don’t need.
As a general rule for the Xero connection you will want to do the following:
- Connect WorkflowMax to Xero (Admin > Connectors > Xero)
- Import your contacts (there is a button in the top left for this)
- Disconnect Xero.
This way you can get all your clients into WorkflowMax to start testing, but without anything that you do having an impact on Xero. Given that Xero contains the one source of truth for your financial accounting, the last thing you want is someone in your business testing things in WorkflowMax and pushing false invoices or other information into Xero.
Once you are ready to run live, you will need to come back to this page and re-connect Xero, and then run through the fields to set it up. I won’t touch specifically on the options here for Chart of Accounts and similar as these are best set up with the advice of your accountant or bookkeeper.
Tasks and Costs
Tasks and Costs are the building blocks of WorkflowMax, and used both for Quotes and Projects. Tasks are predominantly labour based items, whereas a cost is usually a physical item. For example, in a creative agency a task might be ‘concept design work’, however a cost is the printing of brochures, or the booking of a venue.
Both tasks and costs can be imported from an Excel spreadsheet, and for initial setup we certainly recommend you use this option as it can be VERY time consuming to set up potentially hundreds of tasks and costs.
For a task, the key things that you need to know are the name and description, cost price and sell price (both per hour, as they are labour centric), and finally the Xero tracking category and Sales Account, both of which allow detailed reporting.
For a cost, it’s very similar, with a name and description, cost and sell price (this time per unit, rather than hour specific), Xero tracking and Sales account – plus the additional fields for a purchase account and tax code mapping.
Next Steps …
This should give you plenty of ideas on setup of your WorkflowMax system to match your business processes, the next stage will be to run through some sample jobs and test everything for yourselves.
Ok, moving on from the last two sections of implementation advice (Scope and Setup) , we now need to test the system. This is a great time to get out the workflow diagrams which we talked about in the scope section, as these will be particularly useful to help you run information through the system.
Also, I would suggest that you disconnect Xero at this point if you are already using it for your accounts live within your business, as the last thing that you want to do is put false information into your accounting package. An alternative if you still want to test the Xero link is to connect WFM to the ‘Demo Company’ within Xero. You can do this from Settings > Xero > Connect to Xero > Select ‘Demo Company’.
My ‘general’ advice for people in terms of testing, is to use current real company data, but try and pick a selection of jobs/projects to work with. Although it can seem easier to use just one department, or just one project manager, this can sometimes fail to properly test the system as they only operate in one format. Instead, we recommend using a variety of jobs, preferably from the last few months within your company, so that you can run them through WorkflowMax and ensure that everything fits your workflows.
This is also a great opportunity to make sure that the job figures looks accurate, your pricing is set correct, and the margins make sense. There is no such thing as a stupid question at this point, so make sure that plenty of key people within your business are either involved, or at least have the opportunity to look over the data.
Once this is done you will ideally want to remove this information from the system prior to running live, so that your reports and figures aren’t negatively affected by wrong data. In most cases you are able to archive a project/job in WFM, or remove it from the invoice queue. You can also ‘cancel’ the job which will in most cases remove it from reporting (if it doesn’t, you can always build a report to suit your requirements, more on this in part 4).
Costs and Tasks
The other areas to test within jobs are costs and tasks. Try and set up jobs with a range of tasks and costs in them, and ensure that they all run as expected. Although the general settings within WorkflowMax apply to all areas of the system, each task and cost can have individual tax settings, linked accounts from Xero, and pricing, so it’s important to make sure that no single item has anything unusual in it’s setup. Spotting this at the testing stage is much easier to resolve that months down the line when everything has also flowed into Xero and been reconciled.
Keep entering job information and involving staff at your company until you are happy that the system is working as expected. As mentioned above, at this point if you have questions on anything, shout out to WorkflowMax Support or engage a WorkflowMax partner to work with you. It’s important to get everything locked away prior to using the system live.
From here, our next (and final) section will look at reviewing system setup, and improvements you can make after going live.
Hopefully at this point you have been putting live information into the system including such things as timesheets, jobs, quotes and invoicing. This will give you a healthy body of information to report on and use within your business to improve efficiency.
There are a couple of areas where you can modify the system to fit your internal workflows, and I highly recommend you look at these as soon as possible after you implement and go live.
Custom Fields and Templates
Firstly, WorkflowMax has a large set of options for adding ‘custom fields’ to records such as customers, suppliers, jobs and more. A custom field is used where you want to record a piece of information which does not it in the standard areas allowed for in WorkflowMax.
Example: You add a customer in the system and there are fields for name, address, email address and many more – however you want to record their favourite sport. There is nothing in the system by default to help you here, but this is where custom fields come in. Navigate to Admin > Custom Field and then click New Custom Field from the left hand column. You can then pick the ‘type’ of field you want to record, which is particularly useful if you want to limit users ability to type anything into the field (i.e. you might only want to record a number). In this sports case above, I would select ‘dropdown list’ and then in the next page I can list out the choices for the user to pick from (rugby, football, tennis, cricket etc.)
Once this is complete, I can navigate to any customer in the system, or set up a new customer, and there will be a nice shiny new field to record this information. In addition to this (and we will get to this later), I can then report that field back out if I need to at any point. This is particularly useful for recording internal business KPI’s on jobs.
Your second main area of review and improve to look at in WorkflowMax is Custom Templates, which are primarily used to edit and customise forms within the system such as invoices and quotes. There are a huge amount of ways in which you can customise your invoices and quotes, however you will need a good knowledge of Microsoft Word and an understanding of mail merge tags to use these. There is a huge amount more information on this here.
If you are at all unsure, either get a professional to assist you, or at least set a new dummy template up and work with that, I’ve seen far too many customers play about with their default invoice template and then not be able to send invoices until they get it corrected up.
Reporting and Review
Finally, I would recommend all WorkflowMax clients to spend a full half day (at least) performing a system review and reporting after about a month of use. One month is ideal because you’ve had enough time to get good information into the system and perform most tasks, but it’s early enough to make any adjustments or corrections that you need to.
The first set of reports that you want to review are available from Reports > Financial Reports. For a first run our suggestion would be that you run one copy of every single report and familiarise yourself with the information, and what this report refers to, as well as decided whether it’s useful for your business to review each month going forward.
In addition to this, you can also create your own reports from Reports > Report Builder as required. Here you can follow the instructions in order to dynamically create any report that you wish. First, you name the report, then select the fields to record, then filters, and finally who within your business can edit or see the report. Below is a simple example I created to list out current jobs, cost and billable amounts. Again, as with templates if you are at all unsure please create dummy reports first or engage a professional to help.
Hopefully this four part series has been useful to give you a guide to WFM and implementation. As always, if you need any specific advice or hands on support you can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or browse our website and send us a note. You can also follow us @we_are_waypoint for tips and tricks.
As always, if you need any specific advice or hands on support you can contact us below. Implementing a brand new software (and especially one as detailed as WorkflowMax) is never easy but we are recognised by Xero and others as specialists in this field and happy to help with any queries, or manage the entire change for you including training, setup, implementation, support, and more.