When I was in high school I attended a local production of the play Cheaper by the Dozen. I was there to support my younger brother, who played the oldest of twelve children, but I was immediately captivated by the story of the parents—true-life efficiency experts Frank and Lillian Gilbreth—and their household “laboratory.”
While I don’t have twelve children, nor do I time the actions and chores of the children I do have, I have always had a more-than-casual interest in efficiency and finding ways to automate tasks wherever possible. So it should come as no surprise that I went on to study engineering and business in college and have worked as a project manager for more years than I care to think about. With every job I have had, my sideline interest was in finding ways to use technology to automate repetitive (and often mundane) tasks.
When I joined ThirdSide almost a year ago I was excited to come on board as their first official project manager, but I was somewhat leery of stepping out of my comfort zone. All of my professional life had been spent in the construction industry, and specifically on the production and cost side of the business. I never had to worry about sales, marketing, or revenues, and those things are really what websites are all about. At least that’s what I thought, until I got here and learned more about website development and what can be done with the tools available.
So yes, the primary purpose of a business website is to generate interest in your products or services, and hopefully turn that interest into actual customers or clients. However, did you know that you can also use your website to help make your internal processes more efficient? By integrating website forms with the software that you are already using in your business, the potential for improved efficiency is mind-boggling.
Probably the most obvious, and likely the most used, example of website and software integration is direct email marketing. If you use MailChimp, ConstantContact, Mad Mimi, or another of the many email marketing services available, you can easily place a signup form on your website (even with categories if you segment your target audience) and have the information automatically populate your mailing lists. There is no longer a need to have someone enter the information manually.
If you wanted to get really ambitious, you could even do what we did here at ThirdSide and create a client portal where your existing clients can enter their requests for services via a password-protected form on your website. The information on the submitted form could then be mapped to your project management software, where tasks would be created and directed to the correct person or department.
What internal processes do you have that are time-consuming and repetitive? Would your site benefit from an online form or web portal? If so, it may be time to explore the possibility of letting your website help with those processes.