Written By
Jason Ward
July 31, 2013
Posted In

Organizing an organization

July 31, 2013

Small businesses are great.

When I say "small businesses," I mean business that are actually small. I'm talking about the gritty, nimble, innovative, risk-taking ventures that are out there doing whatever it takes. Small businesses are great!

On the other hand, small businesses can be an absolute mess.

As my friend and colleague, Colin Ulin (our intern), recently said, sometimes it feels like herding chickens around here. (Turns out he meant cats, but mistakenly said chickens, probably because he has both chickens and cats at home, but secretly prefers the chickens. I think it has something to do with the fact that chickens always keep their heads level, even when their bodies are set off kilter, while cats require that humans clean up their poop. Now, back on track.) At SmallBox, we've been hacking together systems and processes for the first few years, trying to get organized while staying highly nimble and responsive. Here is a slice of what it looks like when I try to organize teams and projects.

Jason's project management nightmare

This Factory Week, a small team of boxers was tasked with identifying a software solution that would replace our jumble of hacked-together half measures.

So what was our first step? We made a spreadsheet, of course! The answer to having too many spreadsheets is always to make more spreadsheets. We are currently in the process of evaluating a handful of account/project/team management software suites, rating each one on several metrics including budget management, time tracking, managing tasks and deadlines, and cost, among others. We want something that allows us to track everything, but that isn't in the way. We don't want to spend too much time tracking information. We'd rather spend it creating great experiences for our partners. At the same time we need the data.

So far what we've decided is that buying software before using it is hard. We'd love to hear about what you all are using, and what is and is not working. Drop us a line with your ideas!