A startup co-founder approached us with a question: would it be possible to take parts of a process their staff were doing on their website and automate them?
"Sure," we told them, "But what are you trying to accomplish?"
They explained to us that the process was a key component of their business success. However, their relationship with the employee that managed the process was a nightmare.
Initially, they had a great relationship with the employee, but he had become romantically interested in another employee who they had to subsequently fire for embezzlement. After this unfortunate setback, he had begun to sandbag and productivity had plummeted. In a passive-aggressive attack, he was punishing the founders by working extremely slowly. This was causing the entire business to stall as this key process became a bottleneck.
Almost as painful, they discovered through an accidentally leaked email that these two employees were communicating privately to disparage the founders.
They confronted the remaining employee, who apologized, but it didn't help to relieve the problem or their strained relationship.
After these two episodes, the founders weren't interested in hiring someone else. The process that they wanted to automate was key to the business's success, but it didn't seem particularly skill intensive to them. They knew it provided value, but figured that a computer could likely do it. They were right – it was perfect for automation.
What We Did:
We executed a series of iterative custom web development projects where each project ended with a part of the process that they could use immediately within the business.
This helped to keep risk low for both of us by ensuring that we were aligned with their needs and our understanding was accurate. It also provided value at each step and kept things moving by focusing on discrete components.
In the end, we developed a tool to connect the website to a commercial database, run a specific set of queries each day, process the raw text results into data points, and stockpile them on a local data store.
The client then would use this filtered set of information to schedule follow-on marketing activity to occur automatically on the website.
Finally, the tool would reach out to email addresses extracted from the raw text with pre-created emails that created sales opportunities.
We completed the projects within two months and the founders fired their sabotaging employee and were free of the toxic environment that employee had created.
- A process that used to take 8 hours was compressed into 40 minutes and another employee easily took it over.
- The client saved $110,000 in salaries annually and $330,000 in the three years since by being able to downsize and expand their process without hiring.
- They saw cost savings within three months of implementing the project.
Best of all, because of the increased efficiency, they were able to scale the process to much more productive levels than they ever had experienced. The improvements have contributed to improving their traffic by 1000% and expanding their business as a result. This has enabled them to grow a healthy team in the time since.