When we first started Grass Roots Software, Subodh and I found ourselves in the same position as many start-ups. We needed to get the business up and running quickly, so that we could focus our attention on immediate opportunities. We came up with our name, created a logo, and designed a website with little thought to our brand. This is sometimes necessary. In software, we call this a hack. Create a quick, temporary solution to address an immediate need. Ultimately, you need to circle back and spend time devising a solution that can be re-used and built upon; something which will save you countless hours and resources in the long run.
After successful completion of our initial projects, we knew we needed to take another look at our brand. Our existing customers understood us, but we needed to be able to convey who Grass Roots Software is quickly and consistently, in order to expand. We knew we were out of our wheelhouse, so we started looking for a marketing company. After talking to my friend David Dalton, who owns a local branding company, it became apparent that our companies had mutual needs. Grass Roots Software needed to be re-branded; and his company, The Think Shop, needed to replace their job management software.
“When I began looking into database options, I learned there were many pre-packaged systems, many of which were not right for my business. But most importantly, I realized that I did not know exactly what I needed for my business or what we were missing with our existing outdated system. Ultimately, I was lost. In my mind, we simply needed to get our database for projects, clients and vendors online so that my team could work remotely and access information even when we were not in the office, what I did not realize until talking with Shannon and the Grassroots team is how great of an opportunity this was to improve the way that we do business.” – David Dalton, Principal, The Think Shop
The solution was obvious, and a partnership was created.
Subodh and I approached this just like any other customer project. We met with David and his team to understand their requirements, their environment, and their current pain points.
Their major requirements were:
- replace a database tool that had outlived its value
- achieve similar functionality but run on a modern platform
- realize a true field services application which could be accessed by employees from anywhere
- provide a means of team collaboration and job prioritization
- allow the team to focus on what they do best, not on configuring and maintaining an antiquated database
- maintain their customers, 3rd party vendors, jobs, & design details
- generate customer quotes & purchase orders
- add custom job types & statuses on the fly
- automatically send email notifications
- limit access to confidential data via role-based security
After researching several cloud services platforms, we proposed using the Google App Engine running on the Google Cloud Platform. Since The Think Shop is a Google-friendly shop, this seemed like a great fit. Not to mention, we loved the API, scalability, built-in security, and general ease-of-use the platform provides. We designed a robust framework which gave them their current functionality, and easily allowed for modifications, value-adds, and new plug-ins. We built a prototype and modified it based on their input. We deployed new versions as features were added.
“The Grassroots team challenged us take a hard look at our current management system in an analytical way that we would not have begun to think of on our own. They worked with us to understand what we had and how we currently used it and then compared what they could create and pointed out opportunities to make functions better. They offered suggestions, solutions and alternative methods, giving us a new perspective on not only our database but our work process thus changing the way that we handle business more efficiently.” – David Dalton
David’s team consistently used the app while it was being improved. Finally, the process was complete and BizWorks was born.
“Working with the Grassroots team was easy and quite efficient. The follow through and communications were exceptional. Being a creative company we simply did not understand a lot about software development, coding, app development or cloud technology and the Grassroots team communicated all of this information to us in a way that we could understand.” – David Dalton
In return, Grass Roots Software received a new logo, color palette, graphics, supporting materials and help with restructuring our website. We now have a consistent way to market ourselves. We spend less time explaining who we are, what we do, and how we do it. I won’t even try to explain the branding process – that’s what The Think Shop does best. I can tell you this – their overall approach is very similar to our EnCoRe process. Their re-branding solution was the right replacement for our initial hack. It frees us up to do what we do best – create great software solutions. Just like BizWorks.