From Spreadsheets to Workflow Sanity

Podcast

Summary

  • About Terese
  • What is Modern Secretary?
  • Lessons Learned From Integration
  • Improving Team Communication
  • Thursday Ideations
  • Growing Your Team
  • Video Software
  • Hiring in the AGE of COVID-19
  • Conclusion

Resources

About Terese Thomas

Terese is the co-founder of Modern Secretary and the head of their bookkeeping department. She is a full charge bookkeeper and QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor. With over 20 years of experience working with CPAs and managing teams of bookkeepers, she is a QuickBooks professional that is in high demand.

Terese helps her clients get the most out of QuickBooks by creating shortcuts, memorized transactions, and creating customized reports. Terese loves numbers, so in her spare time she likes to play what else but Keno!

What is the Modern Secretary?

Modern Secretary is the result of the combined skill sets and passions of Terese and her partner and co-founder Christiné Marcin. The company is composed of a dedicated team of Intuit Certified ProAdvisors, Retail Business Consultants, and Bookkeeping Professionals working together to bring the best solutions to their clients. They have spent years honing their talents in QuickBooks Online, Desktop, and Intuit Point of Sale. They primarily work with many small and medium sized businesses nationwide, and with the help of Jetpack Workflow, they expect to double their client base in the next year. To tell you a little bit about Terese, when she won a Jetpack Usage award from Jetpack Workflow, her immediate response was asking what her team needed to do to earn that award.

Lessons Learned From Integration

When Terese and Christiné integrated their services into one business model, there was a lot to learn. Looking back on that experience, Terese said if she could go back and change one thing, “I would have started using Jetpack Workflow a year sooner than I did; it took me an entire year to figure out that everything I had been doing with checklists and using Excel spreadsheets and trying to figure out where we were on projects could have been done with Jetpack.” However, prior to using Jetpack, she was using several systems to track project progress. When she started having to rely on others to get the jobs done, she realized that it can be a bit like herding cats… that is to say, a little disorganized.

When she got hooked up with Jetpack Workflow, though, she and her team were better able to understand where they were in the workflow, where their clients’ projects were in the workflow, and whether they were tracking on time or behind.

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Improving Team Communication

Put simply, Jetpack Workflow increased the clarity of her team’s communication. Christiné and Terese were already communicating one-on-one several times per week and had been for years, but Christiné and Terese knew that if they were going to continue growing the company that better communication was needed. So, Terese started meeting with the bookkeepers every Thursday, and once a month, the entire Modern Secretary team gets together at a meeting run by Christiné.

One of the ways Terese has increased communication in her team is through documentation. As she designed the workflow for her team and figured out how she was going to empower her team to do the work, she documented each step. She created videos for her team that explain how to do everything in detail. “They’re all attached inside of the task inside of the job inside of the workflow!’ The added detail allows Modern Secretary to grow their team quickly, and ensure workflow and tasks are being performed to Terese’s stringent standards.

Jetpack Workflow pushed and enabled her to innovate new ways to help her team to do the job. The best part, though? Her enthusiasm for the workflow concept has created a culture of excitement about it, and that excitement shows during their weekly Thursday meetings.

Thursday Ideations

As we mentioned, every Thursday, the bookkeepers get together to discuss what they’ve learned and exchange ideas to improve the efficacy and efficiency of the company’s workflows. “The beautiful thing is they’re coming up with their own ideas that are helpful.” That’s what those Thursday meetings are all about, not only do they serve as a connection and communication point but they also serve as a source of innovation for the company. In the beginning, it was difficult and slow going because the product was so new to them. Now, however, the team looks forward to Thursday meetings because of all of the new ideas that will be generated.

One of the biggest revelations that came up during a Thursday meeting was Terese realizing that as projects worked their way up to her there was a bottleneck, and she needed a way to resolve that. The team collectively came up with a system designed to tell Terese: “You’re up!” It was simple and intuitive: a label that says “Under Review— TT.” And it was and is effective!

Jetpack Workflow CEO and Growing Your Firm host David Cristello explained it this way: “If you look at a Coca-cola bottle, the bottleneck is always at the top. Organizationally, whether it’s a CEO, co-founder, partner, or department head, the bottleneck is always at the top. It’s the natural state of company growth.”

Growing Your Team

So, with a projected growth rate of doubling Modern Secretary’s client base, how are they looking at solving that bottleneck? “We are searching for another ‘me,’” Terese said. That being said, however, it’s difficult to find someone with the appropriate level of experience because they need senior-level experience. So, how are they dealing with that issue? They’re leaning on their network, and asking their connections for personnel recommendations.

Video Software

Ultimately, Terese’s goal is to slow down a bit, hand things off, take vacations, and play Keno. Part of her preparation for handing things off is the creation of the training videos mentioned earlier. She’s trying to make things “so flawlessly easy for the bookkeepers to do their job and do it easily without much hand holding.” In order to create those videos, she has been using SnagIt and then uploading the videos to Dropbox. From there, she links the videos within the task on the workflow.

Hiring in the Age of COVID-19

Lastly, in the era of COVID-19 and remote work, hiring can be extremely difficult. How is Modern Secretary handling trying to hire “another Terese”? “It’s really hard to find anybody… That’s why we’re asking everybody we know if they know someone who’s looking for work.” She admitted it may take hiring multiple people to do what she does in order to cover it all. However, the most interesting part about all of this is Modern Secretary’s approach. They aren’t— and never have— posting their open positions on the internet; rather, they rely on word of mouth and on those vital personal and network connections.

Conclusion

We covered a ton of great information in the podcast, so if you’re after more detailed information, be sure to check out the full episode! If you’d like to get in touch with Terese, you can reach her by email, or if you’re interested in learning more about Modern Secretary, be sure to check out their website.

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