Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Smartsheet and Inventure Management

Learn how Inventure Management uses Smartsheet and Google Apps for online project management and to fast-track development of foreign subsidiaries and sales channels for clients who want to break into the Brazilian oil and maritime sectors.

Inventure Management helps clients get to the Brazilian market faster and more efficiently by establishing, building and managing their subsidiaries in Brazil.

The Brazilian oil and maritime sectors are booming, and the government is increasing its pressure on international companies to establish a physical presence in Brazil. A lot of companies are setting up a subsidiaries in Brazil, and they quickly realize that the Brazilian business and legal environments are incredibly complex, with language and cultural barriers that further complicate the market entry.

“We [Inventure Management] are the leading company for the establishment and development of foreign ventures in the Brazilian oil and maritime sectors,” says Janis Majors, Project Manager at Inventure Management. “The bureaucracy is stifling, and foreign expats without the necessary knowledge of legislation and procedures routinely get stuck, spending the bulk of their expensive time on administrative issues instead of core business. It takes a dedicated team of professionals to get a Brazilian subsidiary to market in an operationally efficient manner. We are able to establish and develop subsidiaries a lot faster than most other companies, also because our clients have instant online access to operational and sales data through Google Apps and Smartsheet.”

Establishing a subsidiary involves procedures, multiple parties, and lots of documentation. To ensure things are accurately executed in a timely manner, coordination and central access to status, files, and next steps is vital.

“Opening Brazilian subsidiaries is a long and arduous process which requires an in-depth knowledge of the specific protocols, procedures and players within the Brazilian market,” says Majors. “This is a new business model and we are growing fast so we need the tools to efficiently communicate and serve our clients. Our client portfolio is currently growing faster than our organization and we need tools that can ramp with us as we keep up with the business.”

Inventure also needed a CRM system that was easy to use both with internal staff and external partners and clients. “I was thrilled to discover that we had an alternative to,” says Majors. “They are the 800 pound gorilla in the CRM market, but the learning curve is so steep, it takes a lot of time to learn and it’s very tough to change it once you have it set up. Smartsheet is flexible and requires no training for my clients. If you know how to use a spreadsheet, you know how to use Smartsheet.”

Inventure uses the full Google Apps Premier edition as well as Smartsheet for online project management and CRM. Specifically, Inventure uses Smartsheet to provide clients with an extranet where they can see all specifics of the day to day operations. Clients can review changes to the sales pipeline, meeting notes and make updates on daily tasks. The company’s intranet is built around Smartsheet embedded in Google Sites.

The Inventure Intranet: Smartsheet embedded in Google Sites
“We found Google Sites extremely easy to customize,” says Majors. “And with Smartsheet’s ability to embed directly into Google Sites, we have an impeccable online toolkit for client services, CRM and internal knowledge sharing.”

Inventure uses Smartsheet and Google Sites to manage:

  • Project Management - client-specific workspaces where the entire project team can participate
  • Document management - documents are housed within Smartsheet and accessible via Google Sites
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) - track client information, meetings, notes and offers
  • Task Management - daily action lists reduces the need for teleconferences Event Planning - tradeshow planning with set notifications and alerts Meeting Room Booking - customized, coordinated calendar with Google Sites

“What I like best about Google Apps and Smartsheet is that I don’t have to create an I.T. project to design new web tools,” says Majors. "Google Sites makes the site creation quick, easy and painless and with the ability to embed Smartsheet, I can easily offer clients access to everything they need.”

Inventure is in the business of client service. With Google Apps and Smartsheet, Inventure is able to offer the best online tools to clients both in Brazil and abroad. As Inventure’s job is to streamline the development of subsidiaries, having a cohesive online toolkit to offer operational planning, project management and CRM has a direct impact on new business and client satisfaction.

“We tested more than 20 different tools for project management in the Google Apps Marketplace,” says Majors. “The combination of Smartsheet and Google Apps feels easy and cohesive. Once I started using the two together, I realized the flexibility of the combined tools would directly impact our ability to succeed on behalf of our clients.”