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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Customer Spotlight: Swimelar CPA Grows Client Base with GQueues



This blog is part of the GQueues 2015 Customer Success series. Every week through May, we will feature a valued customer’s experience to showcase how their organization increases productivity, collaboration and efficiency using GQueues. To view all the success stories, please visit www.gqueues.com/customers.

Swimelar CPA is an accounting and payroll firm in Frisco, Texas. Principal and founding member Michael Swimelar leads their four-person team to provide on-site and remote tax preparation services to clients nationwide.

In 2012, one of Swimelar CPA's key challenges was being able to effectively manage a growing client base with a small team. That year, Michael Swimelar decided to help his team organize state payroll regulations and more easily meet client needs.

After adopting GQueues, Swimelar CPA relied heavily on its tagging feature to organize client information. Team members now tag payroll tasks by each state in which their clients reside. They then process payroll for all the clients under a given tag, and know they have accounted for that state's payroll regulations.

By using GQueues to organize client tasks and payroll deadlines, the team is now able to accomplish larger volumes of work. They also are able to prevent careless mistakes and government fines for missed deposit dates. This reduces stress in the office, and helps the team improve the client experience.

"With GQueues we're able to deliver much higher quality service. The collaboration it enables for our business is huge - I’m really happy with it.” Michael noted.

To learn more, read our full case study with Swimelar CPA.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Follow this Advice to Hold Your Teams Accountable



A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of interviewing Darcy Morgan, CCO of Enerjet, a top-rated Canadian charter airline. Enerjet began using GQueues one year ago to help its teams collaborate better and manage tasks in the cloud.

The most notable benefit Enerjet has gained from using GQueues is greater accountability among its 100+ employees and delivering higher levels of service. Here are the key steps the company took to help teams get there.

Enerjet’s 3 Steps to Better Accountability:


1. Find an easy-to-learn tool. No matter how adept a tool may be, teams need to be able to use it intuitively to reap the benefits. Enerjet teams started working on GQueues shortly after its introduction to the company because, according to Darcy, “It's almost as easy as a sticky note, but much more valuable, since tasks in GQueues are shareable, trackable and manageable.”

2. Build on current systems. To be most effective, a tool must integrate with core existing systems in the workplace. Enerjet has been committed to Google Apps since their launch, a platform many businesses are using to enhance collaboration. Since GQueues integrates with Google, Enerjet easily coordinates teamwork through Drive, Gmail, Chrome, Calendar and Contacts, improving their efficiency without added effort.

3. Make collaboration automatic. When assignments are visible to all team members, there’s no question of who’s responsible for completing work on time. Enerjet teams use GQueues’ shared queues which allow them to create, share and assign tasks all in one place. This helps team members stay organized and accountable for completing their work.

To learn more about Enerjet’s success in holding teams accountable and improving their productivity as a whole, read our case study with them here.

Friday, April 3, 2015

6 GQueues Updates to Spring You Into Action

We’re always working to improve GQueues so you can have the best experience. This spring we launched several updates to the web version and Android app to help you navigate tasks more quickly and easily. Here they are!

New Web Features


Back and Forward - You can now navigate queues using the back and forward browser buttons. For example, if you were in your Projects queue, then went to your To Do queue, you could just click the browser's Back button to go back to Projects. There are keyboard shortcuts for this as well.

Custom Web Addresses - Each queue now has a unique URL for making links and bookmarks. It's another way you can keep track of important pages, save them for later and navigate seamlessly on GQueues. (The URLs are specific to your account and require you to be signed in, so others will NOT be able to see your data just because they have a link).


Open Queues in New Tab / Window - You can now easily open queues in different windows or tabs by holding down the shift-key and clicking the queue name. This allows you to see work side by side and focus on what's important.

New Android Features


Saved Searches for Android - You can now view your saved searches in the Android mobile app. Users have wanted this functionality for a long time, so we’re happy it's now available.

Design Tweaks - While most of the updates were functional, we also made a few design tweaks. A new left-side drawer lets you jump to different types of queues, and Active / Archived buttons are now in the top menu to give more space for your tasks.

Bug Extermination - We squashed a number of outstanding bugs to make the app more robust and an optimized experience for you. Thanks to our great beta testers for helping us verify all the improvements during the last several weeks.

Visit GQueues on the web or your Android device to enjoy these new features!



Monday, March 2, 2015

Here's a Quick Way to Create Tasks On the Fly

Did you know writing down your tasks boosts productivity? Experts also say note taking strengthens the part of your brain that records important information. With the GQueues Chrome Extension, you can record ideas and turn web pages into tasks from your browser, so nothing falls through the cracks.

In January, we updated the Chrome Extension to make it faster and easier to use. Along with the update we recorded a brand new tutorial video which shows you how to install the extension, create tasks with a single click and adjust settings for maximum efficiency.

Watch the video below and install the extension to start working faster and smarter.  Enjoy!




Thursday, February 19, 2015

How Improv Made Me a Better Entrepreneur



Today, employees and teams have access to endless gadgets, tools and tips to increase productivity. Their goals? Accomplish more in less time, “work smarter, not harder” and create a bigger return on investment.

However, focusing too much on how to be more, get more and do more can lead to being busy, instead of productive. On the other hand, learning how to be in the moment and mine all its worth is a strategy that can foster long term happiness and success.

I learned this, funny enough, through improv classes at The Second City. For those who aren’t familiar, improv comedy is a form of theatre where everything is made up on the spot. Doing improv forced me to get out of my head and make strong, confident choices using all the information available at that moment. It helped me see that success depends on my willingness to accept the current circumstances and support my team.

There are three improv rules I learned that have helped me shift my outlook on business and improve relationships with customers.

1. Listen.


To improvise well, everyone on stage needs to hear what each other is saying. You have to listen like your life depends on it and focus your attention on what's going on around you. Simple, though not always easy. My biggest challenge was resisting the urge to plan what I was going to say while other people were talking.

This intense listening skill applied a lot in my business, especially when it came to handling customer feedback - support issues, bug reports and feature requests - on the GQueues' forum. Whenever I jumped to conclusions (ie., "That's not a bug," "You're not doing it right," or "That won't work because of X, Y, Z...") I rejected the input, and missed the opportunity to apply it in a constructive way. When I used improv listening skills instead, reading each message as openly as possible, I understood the underlying issues and could respond appropriately. In practicing this skill, I have been able to create a better product and serve others more effectively by offering real value.

As Richard Branson says, listening in this way is key to success for entrepreneurs.

2. Say Yes.


How many times does your day go exactly as you plan it?

Not often, right?

Anything could happen - from getting a call from a frustrated client, to having a mixup with the conference hotel, to having an awkward conversation with your boss. These things happen. No matter the situation, we have two choices: resist and fight, or accept the circumstances as a way to grow.

You may have heard the core improv rule, “Say Yes.” This can sometimes be misinterpreted as always having to agree with what's happening around you. Really, though, saying yes is about acceptance. Accepting whatever situation you are in, and expanding it with your choices.

For example, if someone runs up to you in an improv scene and says, “The bombs are gonna hit! We’re going to die!” you might respond, “I just stocked my panic room with tuna! Let’s go!” validating her statement and adding to the scene. If you stand there with your arms crossed and say, “Stop. Those aren’t bombs. You look crazy,” you’ve rejected the scene.

Learning how to say yes really hit home with the evolution of the GQueues mobile app. For two years I clung tightly to an HTML5 mobile web app version I'd developed. It was built on technology that was supposed to revolutionize mobile apps, but it never lived up to expectations. Customers were complaining about poor functionality, so I finally accepted this and built new, native Android and iOS apps that would deliver a better experience.

Had I kept denying the circumstances, I would still be stuck, and customers unhappy. Instead, moving forward helped me build an app that people love and can use easily, giving me greater ownership of my work.

Ultimately, I learned saying yes takes courage, helps you develop more positive relationships and gives you power to move forward in your career, no matter what.

3. Roll with it.


One of my favorite things about improv is there are no mistakes. Every word and action taken on stage is fair game for a scene. For example, if someone gets tongue-tied and says, “I just got back from the barket” instead of “I just got back from the market,” they just made up a quirky world where Barkets exist - perhaps a national chain of grocery stores run by dogs.

These “slips” made on stage are gifts opening the players to limitless creativity.

Similarly, great leaders and entrepreneurs understand that mistakes are gifts - opportunities to gain insight and build a better business.

I’ve made a number of blunders working on GQueues - from bugs, to poorly designed features, to being inconsiderate with team members. While I regret the results, improv has helped me immediately start an action plan that can apply the mistake positively in my life. I accept what happened, make amends, then take time to explore what I can learn about myself and the situation. Writing this down helps me commit to growing and hopefully not repeating the mistake again.

The improv practices of intense listening, accepting circumstances and embracing mistakes helped me grow both personally and as a leader of my business. Although I was terrified at first, I learned to really connect with others in a bold and meaningful way that isn't often touched on in the real world. They taught me how to use everyday life to improve my weak spots and turn them into strengths.

If you haven't before, I highly recommend taking an improv class. After all, when you can grow your business in these ways and more and have fun, there's only something to gain.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Just Released: Business Transformation Guide for Google Apps

The Cloud Alliance for Google Apps just published a 40-page, comprehensive Business Transformation Guide for Google Apps.

This document is completely free and can be downloaded here:
http://www.cloudallianceforgoogleapps.com/industry-research/

The guide provides a change management plan for teams and workplaces transitioning to Google Apps. As outlined on the website, it is particularly useful for:
  • An executive looking to guide your organization through the biggest IT shift in decades. 
  • An IT administrator who wants to make a difference and make your own life easier. 
  • A Google Apps reseller seeking insight on helping your customers adopt the platform. 
  • A tech-savvy employee looking to drive change from the bottom up. 
As a proud member of the Cloud Alliance, we couldn't be more thrilled to recommend this powerful new business tool to our community. Please, check it out!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

3 Ways to Optimize Work Flow with GQueues

Since the start of the New Year, I've noticed a lot of new interest in task management applications. Organizations want to make the most of 2015 and with one month already down, an urgency is growing. While many promise productivity and efficiency, task managers do not often make clear how they drive tangible results for business and thus, their importance.

To offer clarity on the subject, I'd like to share GQueues' case study on Krengeltech, a software development and professional services company, known for DocuTransfer.®

A majority of Krengeltech's 15 employees work across the Midwest, and one reason they sought a task manager was to improve central communication within the team, thereby producing higher quality deliverables for clients.

Over the past three years, here's how GQueues helped Krengeltech achieve their goals.

Task One: Integrating with Google Apps


In 2011, Quentin Krengel, founder and President of Krengeltech spotted GQueues for its complete Google Apps integration and ability to create, prioritize and share tasks with his entire team. Having just switched Krengeltech to Google Apps, he chose it as the best fitting task manager for the company.

Two: Managing the Flow of Business


Krengeltech first and foremost needed to improve their communication structure that started in internal strategy and poured into client relations.

GQueues offered a way to optimize the team's process of collecting, translating and implementing data from client intake to high-quality deliverables.

First, Krengeltech employees created queues for each step of the process - Estimators, Statement of Work and Projects - in the company's GQueues account. With the Shared Queues feature, all Krengeltech employees were able to prioritize and assign tasks in these queues with Google Contacts, keeping everyone on track. Krengeltech now had access to a smoother, seamless client-to-staff connection.
"GQueues keeps us on track so nothing falls through the cracks."
- Chris Franz, Professional Services Manager

Task Three: Making Teamwork Simple


Next, Krengeltech wanted to streamline the way teams worked together. This meant clear, consistent communication regardless of location or distance from one employee to another. It also meant giving employees a way to optimize their time individually so they could meet goals and deadlines together.

With GQueues, teams began to create agenda queues that contained tasks and items to be discussed in weekly conference calls. They attached files from Google Drive to these queues, organizing information relevant to the upcoming call and sharing it with all participating team members. When it was time to meet, participants were already informed of the purpose and focus of the call and could utilize their time together effectively.

Employees were also able to optimize their individual work flow with the GQueues for Gmail extension, turning relevant email content into actionable tasks. Being able to sort emails from personal, to group, to “junk” made it easy to focus only on relevant tasks.



In the same vein, teams used the GQueues Chrome Extension to add spur of the moment ideas and web content to their tasks without logging into GQueues. This was more productive than sharing a link and having recipients scan through the entire web page to find the relevant content. It also allowed team members to create tasks instantly, a shortcut to the full GQueues interface.

Over the past three years, we've been thrilled to help Krengeltech improve collaboration and communication and achieve more client-focused results. Chris Franz, CEO of Krengeltech noted the app’s simplicity and integration with Google Apps as, "pretty much a no brainer," so we're glad to hear the process was simple.

If you’d like to learn more about GQueues features, how they can optimize your work flow and drive results, take a moment to view our other case studies across several industries. No matter your line of work, we hope this information helps you make key decisions for a productive, purpose-driven New Year.