Project Implementation and Consultation – for Applications!

Project Implementation and Consultation – for Applications!

When VEA was looking to implement a new time tracking application (read more about that here) initially we picked something that we thought looked amazing and were ready to buy it that day! Lucky for us, one of our System & Operational Process Specialists (SOPS for short) got wind of the project and called me up. She started asking a lot of important questions that I realized we didn’t have the answers to.

 

Had we gone with the application we were originally looking at, we would have discovered very quickly it didn’t do half of the things that our team actually needed it to do. We probably would have ended up abandoning the application and starting over. What a waste of time and money for everyone!

 

A System & Operational Process Specialist (a title within our Online Business Manager (OBM) services) will help you research, select and implement new applications (including change management with your team). There are a lot of questions to consider when you are thinking about implementing a new application. You don’t want to spend time and resources implementing something only to find out 6 months down the road it doesn’t do everything your team needs it to do. Or worse, that your team has a major requirement you didn’t consider and now you have to scrap the whole project.

 

Working with one of our System & Operational Process Specialists will help you discover and answer questions like:

 

Our System & Operational Process Specialists can assist with a wide variety of application requirements – everything from Microsoft set up (such as creating SharePoint sites and OneDrive architecture) to time tracking, project management, and service management applications.

 

Best of all, you get the added benefit at each phase of either continuing with the VEA team or completing the rest of the phases inhouse.

 

Want to learn more? Click the banner below to schedule a call with us to discuss how our SOPS (under the OBM banner) can scale your business.

 

Lanna Thompson
Co-Founder & CEO at VEA

Project Implementation and Consultation – for Processes!

Project Implementation and Consultation – for Processes!

Has a process in your company left you feeling like there must be a better way?! Trust me, we’ve been there! 3 years ago, the billing process at VEA Office Professionals (VEA) took us 16 hours to complete over a 2-day period. Every client we added to our roster, meant the total time for billing would increase. Our Accounting Team dreaded payroll and invoicing at the end of the month – the overall process was painful and time-consuming.

Enter one of our amazing System & Operational Process Specialists (SOPS), Lenneal Howden!

She reviewed our current processes, assessed possible risks, identified areas where we could automate, and implemented the solution that best fit us. The end result? A customized report that was designed with the flexibility to optimize it in the future, could easily maintain the integrity of the data, and most importantly made our work and life easier. Our billing now takes approximately 4 hours per month – a 75% decrease in the time required.

 

Our System & Operational Process Specialists have experience and expertise in reviewing business processes and technology to identify areas for improvement. We have helped many companies streamline their operations and increase efficiency. With a properly documented process, we can analyze what is currently working and what can be done more efficiently. That’s where the magic begins – using that data, we make recommendations to automate and streamline. Sometimes this will involve implementing new applications (read more about that here) and other times we may create connections between your existing applications.

 

Automating processes is like giving yourself a superpower!

  • Saves Time: One of the best things about automation is that it saves you time. Instead of spending hours doing manual tasks, you can set up a system to do them for you in seconds. This means you have more time to focus on important things, such as servicing your clients, growing your business, or spending time with your family.
  • Reduces Human Errors: Let’s face it, we’re all human, and humans make mistakes. But automated functionality not so much. By automating processes, you can significantly reduce the risk of errors caused by human oversight or fatigue. This leads to more accurate results and happier customers.
  • Increases Efficiency: Automation is like turbocharging your productivity. It allows you to get more done in less time, which can have a big impact on your bottom line. Whether you’re a small business trying to keep up with demand or an individual trying to stay organized, automation can help you work smarter, not harder.
  • Improves Consistency: Have you ever noticed how some tasks are done differently depending on who’s doing them? With automation, you can ensure that every task is performed the same way every time. This consistency not only improves quality but also makes it easier to track and measure performance.
  • Enhances Scalability: As your business grows, so do your needs. Automation can scale with you, allowing you to handle increased volume without adding more resources. Whether you’re processing orders, managing inventory, or responding to customer inquiries, automation can help you keep up with demand without breaking a sweat.

 

This all might sound complex, and frankly a little overwhelming, but our System & Operational Process Specialists make it easy by using a 3-step phased approach.

 

Phase 1 - Process Review

We do a deep dive into your process(s) and conclude the phase with a complete strategy for improvement. 

This phase is independent and does not commit you to working with us on implementation. You can implement the recommendations made on your own, or you can work with us to move on to Phase 2.

Phase 2 - Process Implementation

Most of our clients choose to have us implement the recommendations moving forward. After all, we just got up close and personal with your business and team leaders! Additionally, we find that sometimes changes in processes can create resistance in your team. We can smooth that over by ensuring they understand we are the ones recommending the changes. We will also work with them through any challenges they may encounter throughout the phase.

Phase 3 – Process Management

Good process management provides a clear understanding and documentation of the actions required from point A to point B to achieve desired results. Management will also look for ways to continually improve the various actions required from point A to point B. Their goal is to provide the desired results while improving the process and aligning it to the company’s strategic goals.

 

Conclusion

This means at each phase YOU are in complete control of deciding if you wish to continue the implementation with your dedicated VEA team or complete the rest of the phases in-house.

 

Want to learn more? Click the banner below to schedule a call with us to discuss our Online Business Manager services which includes our System & Operational Process Specialists (SOPS).

Lanna Thompson
Co-Founder & CEO at VEA

Automating Routine Tasks in Your Business: Automate, Delegate, Alleviate

Automating Routine Tasks in Your Business: Automate, Delegate, Alleviate

There is an infinite amount of advice on the internet that comes from experts, influencers, and AI. This leads to Business Owners and Entrepreneurs being inundated with ideas and resources on how to grow themselves and their businesses. There is never enough time in a day to implement everything you learn, and a lot of the advice won’t work for you. The easiest way to complete anything is to break it into bite-sized, manageable pieces.
It’s a lot like automating processes and delegating tasks. You are inundated with ideas and advice on how to automate and delegate processes, but you don’t know where to start. If you are looking at the whole picture and the hours it takes to complete something, it is way too overwhelming to grasp. This leads to you continuing to do it the way you always have and continuing to complete the processes that could be automated. If you are ready to bring in experts to free up your time, this is how VEA helps businesses grow by breaking down their processes into these 3 pieces: Automate, Delegate, Alleviate.

 

The first step is to automate that process which takes too much of your time. Whether it is email management, project management, travel booking, bookkeeping, invoicing, or recruiting and onboarding new staff or clients. A Business Manager will build and document each process, find faster ways to complete it and help you decide whether or not it’s worth your time. If it isn’t worth your time, we help you delegate it to a virtual Executive Assistant or Bookkeeper.
If you are stuck in the weeds and not sure how to audit your time or discover which step to automate, simply take a step back. Review what your days have looked like so far and even what you are dreading or putting off doing. Those should be the first tasks you automate. Many of our clients also audit their time. A resource like Clockify is very helpful for this. Sign up for a free account and track how long you are spending on each task. If email management takes you a combined 2 hours a day, that is a perfect opportunity to find better systems like “Inbox Zero”. After a few weeks, you can discover where your time is being spent and ask yourself, “Should I be doing this or automating it.”

 

You will quickly discover that you do not have to do everything. A business owner who tries to complete every task themselves will hit burnout, procrastination, and bottlenecks. The truth is some owners are micromanagers and find it nearly impossible to let go of tasks but usually, the issue is that they don’t have time to discover a faster way. That is where a Business Manager comes in to help them discover how to delegate and who to delegate to. It could be someone on your team or you can hire an Executive Assistant or Bookkeeper to completely take it over from you.

Some of the most common tasks our Online Business Managers improve are:

  • Project planning
  • Project management
  • Recruitment
  • Client onboarding
  • Team onboarding
  • Team mentoring
  • Biz dev research
  • Reporting

Again, these are common tasks but we are consistently receiving and discovering new opportunities to streamline processes.

Once our clients have automated and delegated processes they have saved anywhere from 5 hours to over 14 hours a month! Imagine saving yourself almost 2 full days! The hours you save can have you working fewer or no evenings and weekends, and removing bottlenecks from your organization. Freeing you up so you can run more efficiently and work on higher-level tasks to grow your business further.

If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, automating and delegating always leads to alleviating time, pressure and stress from your business.

 

Then What?

Once you have saved yourself hours a month, repeat the process. Our Online Business Managers can repeat the process for different tasks, processes, or projects in your business. If you’ve cleared up your emails and spent fewer hours in your inbox, move on to the project you have been putting off. If you have removed bottlenecks within your team by hiring a Business Manager to take over projects and mentoring, move on to a new internal system for them to streamline.

VEA has been helping small businesses run efficiently for the past 8 years and even though the term “expert” is thrown around everywhere these days, we are experts at what we do. If it is time to automate, delegate and alleviate, book a call with our team to see if we are the right fit for your business.

 

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Click to Learn More
Grow and Expand Your Business with an Online Business Manager

Grow and Expand Your Business with an Online Business Manager

Think about your favourite restaurant. What makes it so good? From the best menu for a fair price, to the right music and an inviting host, a lot of processes are working together to create a smooth experience. The sum is often greater than its many parts.

While you might not be dreaming up tomorrow’s amuse bouche or plating any five-star desserts, your business still requires overarching policies, order, and rigor to produce products and services that customers want. To make that happen, enter the Online Business Manager (OBM).

An OBM is like a business owner’s right hand who can play a critical role in streamlining internal systems. In this post we’ve put together a list of the Top Five ways an OBM provides the most value that transcends traditional management functions like organizing, planning, and leading within a business framework.

1. Facilitates Seamless Operations

OBMs are the glue that keep a business owner and various teams working together toward the same goals. OBMs have a bird’s-eye view of operations, meaning they can identify bottlenecks, implement strategies that enhance efficiency, and improve cross-functional standard operating procedures.

2. Leverages Technology and Innovation

Choosing the right technologies for your company is important, but it can also be a total time and money suck if you don’t do your research. Worst yet, your team might resist adopting technology that isn’t easy to use or doesn’t serve a clear purpose, creating an uphill battle you are not prepared to fight.

OBMs keep their finger on the pulse of leading tools and platforms to optimize workflows, automate processes, and introduce solutions that harness more of your people’s potential rather than siphon off time, money, and productivity.

3. Oversees Human Resources

If you are scaling a small business, your OBM can serve as a point of contact for employees, addressing HR-related inquiries, concerns, or conflicts.

Hiring the right people, and then managing employee retention requires constant attention. An OBM assists in talent acquisition and management by collaborating with an HR team to develop effective recruitment strategies, ensuring that the organization attracts and hires top talent.

Your OBM may also be involved in the interview process by writing compelling job descriptions and vetting applications. You can still meet with top candidates and make the final hiring call, but hours of prep work have been removed from your plate.

4. Helps with Business Expansion

OBMs contribute to scalability by identifying efficiencies in processes and implementing overarching frameworks that accommodate growth.

They also analyze data, assess market trends, and provide valuable insights to support strategic decisions. An OBM’s expertise allows business owners to make well-informed choices that align with the company’s long-term objectives for expansion.

5. Communicates Effectively and Manages Relationships

Clear communication is the cornerstone of successful business operations. OBMs facilitate communication channels between various stakeholders so that everyone is aligned to the same objectives. Moreover, OBMs often act as a liaison between the business owner and external partners, nurturing relationships crucial for business success.

Real-World Case Story

Nothing brings hypothetical examples to life like a real case study. For example, our professional services client needed to streamline its time tracking system and invoice its customers more efficiently. Under their legacy system, they were still creating all invoices manually. It took two whole days to compile information and send invoices!

A VEA Online Business Manager reviewed the current process and identified areas for improvement. Then they created solid deliverables, researched and found the right digital tools to meet these deliverables, and worked with an Executive Assistant and Bookkeeper to implement the program.

Using a mixture of Clockify, Excel, and business analysis, VEA reduced the billing process from two days to just two hours, saving our client 14 hours per month in labor. Freeing up time by creating better processes enabled our client to grow without a lot of added administrative muscle to make it happen.

Are you Ready to Scale?

OBMs take on a comprehensive and dynamic role that extends far beyond basic managerial tasks. They engage in a broader scope of activities crucial for the success and growth of a modern business in the digital landscape.

The OBM also fosters a culture of continuous improvement and change management within the organization. Of course, culture is something that starts at the very top, but an OBM will promote and evangelize the values that are most important to your company. They can foster transparency, communication, and collaboration across departments, encouraging the sharing of best practices and innovative ideas.

Just like your favorite restaurant, every small business is a complicated, fast-paced enterprise that requires seamless processes for success. Contact VEA anytime to talk about your specific needs. Let’s find the right OBM who understands your business and can help make getting ahead feel easier.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Elevate Your Business: Introducing the Role of a Chief of Staff

Elevate Your Business: Introducing the Role of a Chief of Staff

You are surrounded by a talented team, and your Executive Assistant ensures everything from your calendar to your inbox is under control. Business is good, but you’re still doing tasks your team could handle if you had the time to delegate. You tell yourself, “I’ll get to that tomorrow if I can just finish this work right in front of me today.”

If you lack the right processes or systems to grow your business, and/or your team could benefit from better communication all around, it could be time to consider bringing a Chief of Staff, commonly known as an Executor Chief of Staff, Implementer, Online Business Manager (OBM), or Process Manager, into the mix.

 

What is a Chief of Staff?

While the role of a Chief of Staff, or Online Business Manager (OBM), will vary depending on your unique needs, they are not meant to replace your Executive Assistant. An Executive Assistant provides administrative and clerical support, and your OBM is responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations, including, but not limited to: managing employees, developing and implementing strategies, and monitoring financial performance indicators. 

An OBM typically has decades of experience in a business setting and helps ensure your company is running smoothly and efficiently.

An OBM is your right hand. They bridge operational and administrative functions to get the team working together. An OBM also finds ways to implement your strategies within the operations to keep moving your business forward.

With an OBM overseeing the daily business functions, you will have capacity to refocus on business growth, company culture, and anything else where you feel your contributions are most valuable.

“An Online Business Manager having a remote meeting via Zoom to present reporting, insights and direction”

How an Online Business Manager Can Help?

You and your Executive Assistant have developed a good rhythm, but you need more help at a strategic level. This is where an OBM shines. These professionals are trained to assist in areas such as:

Human Resources:

Hiring the right people, and then managing employee retention, is super important, but it is incredibly time consuming. An OBM assists in talent acquisition and management by collaborating with HR teams to develop effective recruitment strategies, ensuring that the organization attracts and hires top talent. Your OBM may also be involved in the interview process by writing compelling job descriptions and vetting applications. You can still meet with top candidates and make the final hiring call, but hours of prep work have been removed from your plate.

An OBM also contributes to talent development initiatives by identifying skill gaps and facilitating training programs to enhance employees’ capabilities. They help streamline HR processes and policies by assessing existing HR systems and identifying opportunities for improvement, such as implementing HR technology solutions or revising outdated policies. If your company is on the smaller side, your OBM can also serve as a point of contact for employees, addressing HR-related inquiries, concerns, or conflicts.

Project Planning and Management:

You know those people who just love a spreadsheet more than most? An OBM fits that definition. Complicated projects require the attention and rigor only a dedicated team member can give to ensure your vision is carried through to completion.

Your OBM plays a critical role in project planning and management by providing strategic guidance, coordination, and oversight. Everyone approaches project management a bit differently, but generally speaking your OBM will help define project goals and objectives by collaborating with stakeholders, analyzing data, and aligning the project’s vision with the organization’s strategic priorities. Then they can facilitate the creation of a comprehensive project plan and resource requirements, and outline key milestones, timelines, and deliverables.

Your OBM ensures effective project management by establishing clear communication channels, with both the project team and external stakeholders. They initiate regular meetings and check-ins to monitor progress, identify potential roadblocks, and make necessary adjustments to keep the project on track. They also think about resource allocation, ensuring that priorities are ranked in a way so that proper funding can be made available to complete the project within the given time period and team members are not overloaded, working overtime, or faced with complete burnout.

A good OBM can foster collaboration among team members, promote problem-solving, and provide support when conflicts or challenges arise. By overseeing project planning and management, the OBM ensures that initiatives remain aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives, optimize resource utilization, and increase the likelihood of successful project completion. Honestly, would you really have time to do all of this on your own?

Streamlining Internal Systems:

You can’t deliver strategy without systems and processes in place to do so. They create the infrastructure, much like our roads, bridges, and railroad lines do to keep traffic flowing.

An OBM plays a crucial role in streamlining these internal systems. They often begin by assessing existing processes and workflows to identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks. They collaborate with cross-functional teams to develop and implement streamlined procedures, ensuring that resources are utilized effectively and tasks are completed in a timely manner. The OBM may also leverage technology and automation tools to optimize internal systems, reducing manual work and increasing productivity.

The OBM  fosters a culture of continuous improvement and change management within the organization. Of course, culture is something that starts at the very top, but an OBM will promote and evangelize the values that are most important to your company. They can foster transparency, communication, and collaboration across departments, encouraging the sharing of best practices and innovative ideas.

By streamlining internal systems, the OBM helps eliminate waste, enhance operational efficiency, reduce Costs, and improve overall organizational performance. They can define performance metrics, monitor progress and iterate on processes as needed. They play a pivotal role in driving organizational growth and ensuring that the company operates at its highest potential.

Is it Time for a Chief of Staff or Online Business Manager?

You should consider hiring an OBM if:

  • Important commitments get pushed out due to lack of time, energy or resources.
  • You feel the pressure of not having the time to strategize.
  • Integrating new business opportunities feels more energy draining than exciting.
  • Connection within your team is fragmented, and communication gaps are creating roadblocks.
  • Keeping your team morale up seems to be getting more difficult as you grow.
  • Recruitment and hiring are too rushed, or do not get done at all.

Every leader needs help if they want to achieve big goals, not to mention sustain the colossal energy it takes to lead. Hiring the right OBM could be the most important business decision you ever make as you strive for better performance in your organization.

Contact VEA anytime to talk about your specific needs. Let’s find the right OBM who understands your needs and can help make getting ahead feel easier.

 

Tovey Blake
Operations Manager

 

 

Frequently asked Questions about Chiefs of Staff

Q: How do I onboard a Chief of Staff or Online Business Manager?

A: The team at VEA will guide you through a step-by-step onboarding process to ensure you are matched with an OBM who is right for you and your business.

Q: What if I only need help during peak seasons?

A: Our OBMs are available on an ongoing basis as well as for one-off projects to fit your needs.

Q: How can I be sure I will get a Chief of Staff or Online Business Manager who understands what I need?

A: We begin with an in-depth strategy session to better understand where you require support as well as assess for personality and culture fit. You get to meet potential candidates and are part of the decision-making process from the beginning. VEA prides itself on HAND MATCHING every OBM to every client. We will work with you to get it right.

Q: What if I quickly realize I don’t need a Chief of Staff or Online Business Manager?

A: We will discover that for you before we even get started and most likely recommend an Executive Assistant instead.

Q: How does VEA ensure I am getting the most value from my Chief of Staff or Online Business Manager?

A: Open and regular communication with your OBM is the best way to get what you need. By the end of your kickoff call, your OBM should be clear about the project and/or role expectations. 

The kickoff call for a one-off project entails: Review of scope of work. Your OBM will then use the approved scope to create a project plan and work-back schedule to complete deliverables.

The kickoff call for an ongoing role entails: Creation of a 90-day plan that focuses on a combination of “quick win” improvements and short-term goals. 

In either case, your OBM will lead and execute the work needed to result in positive outcomes.

Q: How many years of experience does a Chief of Staff or Online Business Manager have?

A: Our OBMs have at least ten years of experience, and many have more than that.

Q: Where is your team located?

A: We are a Canada-based, remote workforce. Our OBMs are spread across Canada, and we can match you with someone who is within or near your time zone.