What does your company/business do?
The Frontier Group (based in Perth, Australia) develops web applications and web sites for startups through to big business. A team of 12 (and growing), we develop almost exclusively in Ruby on Rails now and love all things Agile. We run the Ruby On Rails meetup group in Perthand are well integrated into the local Rails community.
Why do you need 37signals products?
At the moment, the two 37signals applications we get the most out of are Highrise and Backpack. We have enough customers to warrant the use of a CRM, but need something with a low barrier to entry (otherwise it’s just another behemoth web application we need to maintain). We run simultaneous projects, so Backpack helps out there with keeping our information in one place.
How do you use the product and why do you like it?
Highrise: With Highrise, it’s all about Deals for us. Every lead goes in as a deal and we monitor the Pending list closely. We can track our Wins vs. Losses, but keeping things moving on Pending Deals is critical. Being able to set Tasks to ensure follow-up means our Deals don’t fall behind schedule. The email dropbox facility means all correspondence and proposals sent can be filed against the Deal, keeping everything central.
Simplicity and ease of use is the reason why we introduced Highrise into our organisation.
Fitzgerald: "It's all about Deals for us."
Backpack: This is critical to keep all project documentation together. We might have four or more people needing access to documents for a project, or just loosely planning some ideas, so it all goes into Backpack.
Another use for Backpack is management meetings. We meet once a week and have a Backpack page where the managers tick off deliverables from the following week and assess the week ahead. It’s not terribly formalised at this level, but it gives us a quick idea of where we’ve been and where we’re headed. Anything that makes a meeting more enjoyable is a plus.
What did you use before and why did you switch?
We were using Google Docs for project file management. That works ok, but is a little bit rudimentary with its interface. For us, it was either develop something in house, or go with Backpack and Backpack worked for us.
Tell us a story about a time when the product(s) helped you out.
Backpack really helped me out when I was heading overseas for my honeymoon. There’s a lot of knowledge that needs to be transferred so I started a “Help me leave the country” page. Initially I used it to just put down all the information that I knew was preventing me from leaving work. I turned that into a Todo list for work items that I wanted completed by the team on my behalf, and a series of notes which would cover off any issues. I don’t remember getting a single phone call the three weeks I was away, so lets chalk part of that up to Backpack :)
Any tips or tricks for other customers?
Despite the simplicity of the 37signals applications, there’s still a lot you can uncover to use them for. We tried introducing Basecamp into our organisation a few years back but it wasn’t quite the right fit at the time. A couple of years later we found a small use for Highrise and Backpack, and it worked for us then. For people unsure of how they will use the applications, just focus on one area that works and then expand from there.
Do you use a 37signals product in an interesting way? Let us know.