I got to sit down with a friend this week before I presented at the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP) conference. I listened to him talk about how he was getting ready to strike out on his own and start his own company. As he talked, his excitement was hugely apparent, but he had a few questions about how we at The CP Journal work, set up the underlying processes that we rely on and what technology we use. Since I was getting ready to speak in just a little while, I only gave him some big picture thoughts, but told him I’d follow up with more detailed information. The email that I was planning on sending to him grew to be quite long, so I figured I’d break it up into a series of posts to share it here so that any other entrepreneurs getting ready to make the leap can find it useful as well.
Over the next few weeks, we will be posting new pieces to this series to show how we collect information to stay current, the technology that runs our website, and some of the processes we use to run our company. If you’re looking for the usual weekend reading article we post each Friday, sign up for the Weekly Profile to see the articles we are reading and want to pass on.
The technology and platforms that we use to stay connected are chosen because we work remotely and spend a lot of time travelling, which requires that everything powering our business is synced across our MacBooks, iPhones and iPads. While the software we have chosen to use make life easier for us, they also help us to deliver better service to our clients.
Platforms and Software
Everything we do is stored in and collaborated on through Evernote. With different notebooks set up for the variety of business functions and for ongoing work and collaboration, if it isn’t in Evernote, it doesn’t exist.
We use Evernote because it becomes a second brain for the things you already know. When we get asked a question in class, let’s say about a recent shooting, we might not have all of the facts memorized. By keeping all of the research we have done on current events in Evernote, we can quickly pull up the relevant information and answer the question accurately and fully with facts and be able to explain the source of the information.
The other benefit to using Evernote is that it keeps us from having to use email as a way to coordinate between team members. With less cluttered inboxes, the chances that we miss a message from a client or a student greatly decrease, meaning that we can deliver up-to-date and relevant information to our clients as quickly and responsively as possible.
The only things that are not stored in Evernote for The CP Journal are our presentations and recorded modules. Because the Keynote and PowerPoint presentations that make up the Tactical Analysis program (and their recorded video lessons) are quite large, it is easier to store them in Dropbox than in Evernote.
We use Dropbox because if someone in our company is researching a current attack or assault and is building a new module for a class, as soon as they make the adjustment to the presentation, an instructor in the field is able to immediately tie relevant and timely information into a class that they are teaching. Many of the improvements we have made to our program since 2011 can be tied to the opportunity of being able to customize certain modules, refine them and integrate them back into our standard programs immediately.
Since we work remotely at The CP Journal, daily video chats or quick messages through Google Hangouts are convenient and reliable ways to communicate and further eliminate the need for too many emails between team members. These benefits also help our clients. Instead of having to worry about a server going down or having to keep an IT person on the staff, we let the geniuses over at Google take care of that for us, which is more reliable and helps to keep our costs down.
This is the software that we use to post messages to our social media channels. We will highlight the benefit that Hootsuite provides to our clients next week when we show how we stay current and what our sources of information are.
This is email-marketing software and is what powers our Weekly Profile. With easy-to-use templates, we can help our readers who might not have the time to check our site each week with a weekly summary of the articles we have written and others that we recommend from around the Internet that can benefit them. It also offers the option to one-click unsubscribe, so if you get tired of hearing from us, you can stop receiving those emails in just a single click.
This is our accounting software. We also use PayPal to process payments for our online course, but that syncs with QuickBooks to provide us with multiple benefits. When a client needs a copy of a receipt, wants to check the status of an invoice or wants to close out their bill immediately following a course, the QuickBooks mobile app lets us keep the back office and instructors in the field connected to answer any questions that come up.
All of these tools help us keep all of our company’s vital information stored in the cloud, so when a phone or computer breaks, nothing gets lost. With the downloading of a few apps, we can be back up and running with minimal delays.
We have expanded and contracted this list of resources over the years to determine if other software would make our lives easier. We’ve experimented with Basecamp, Salesforce.com, and Freshdesk, and, not that there was anything wrong with those (in fact they were all great for the problems they individually solved,) but in order to stay small and flexible, we prefer to limit the software options we use and capitalize on our time with those platforms to improve the underlying processes for our customer service, CRM, project management or anything else we are looking to use technology for to improve.
Want to see all of our “How We Work” articles? Click here to see the series.