Last time, we talked about how I moved my business into the cloud by using Podio as my client management database. But the cloud doesn’t just provide flexibility and accessibility: these systems serve as a hub for several specialized services. Connecting these together provides more usability than any one software company can offer. Here’s some of the additional features I’ve added to Podio.
Client email archive
My old client database software was linked to Outlook. I had a record of all email sent to clients, which was convenient. But the downside of saving every email is that client histories would get cluttered with non-critical conversations (e.g., about finding a time to meet).
Now, we still use Outlook, but we mark important emails weekly and save them to Evernote, an online archiving service that allows notes to be linked to the relevant Client App entry inside Podio. And, Evernote allows you to use any email software, including web-based ones.
Further, Podio allows each item you create to have its own unique email address. So, a detailed email conversation can be cc’d to the relevant Podio client or meeting entry, and it would automatically appear in that file.
My non-cloud CRM made drafting mass emails a breeze because I could select a certain group of clients.
Now, we have duplicated and enhanced this feature by linking MailChimp to Podio, which is just as sortable and searchable as my previous database. And those same, specific clients will get better-looking, graphic emails that can be tracked and followed up on.
The weakest function in Podio is its calendar because the layout puts non-timed activities near the top, there’s no search feature, and appointments are hidden under a scroll bar. The calendar is also slow to navigate. So, I use Google Calendar and sync it directly with Podio.
We still use Microsoft Office to create emails, documents, spreadsheets and PDFs.
These are saved on a hard drive and instantly synced to Google Drive, and backed up to CrashPlan. We added CrashPlan to the mix because it allows easy storage of all documents, even those that are deleted. We export Podio files to Excel spreadsheets monthly, and store them on a Google Drive. This takes about 20 minutes a month.
I’ve also set up another online, automated cloud-syncing service called cloudHQ, which takes every new Evernote and syncs it to Google Drive.
This helps reassure me, because if Evernote were to close, it’s unlikely that Google would close on the same day. Also, all documents stored in Google Drive are automatically stored on our hard drive. So, every email archive is, in effect, triplicated.
And, since I use CrashPlan to back up my computer documents, I’ve added a fourth layer of archiving. If you don’t like Google, cloudHQ can also sync files between services like OneDrive and Dropbox.
The end result of the above steps is threefold.
- We no longer need or want an office-based server.
- I can access all my client information and history from my Windows desktop computer, Chromebook, Android smartphone and my iPad.
- The next time a computer breaks, I don’t have to call a technician or worry about my business shutting down. I simply grab another device, sign into Podio and I’m back in business.
by Kevin Cork, CFP, president of TheAbsoluteGroup.com and a best-selling author