How Back Office Service Business Blue Fox Reduced Email Volume By 60% And Upped Productivity With Hive
Blue Fox provides customized financial and back office services for US-based social impact organizations (nonprofits and social enterprises) with both local and global footprints. Services range from standard bookkeeping and payroll services, to coaching and consulting or comprehensive virtual CFO services. Their mission is to disrupt the traditional accounting model through technology, innovation, and a radically client-focused approach that truly empowers nonprofits and social enterprises.
Before using Hive, Blue Fox worked primarily in spreadsheets and on Slack. Slack was a good tool for their team to stay connected, as they were all remote, but often became complicated and projects were difficult to track long-term. After undergoing a period of rapid growth in 2018, their team knew they needed a comprehensive tool to power their organization for the future.
When they started looking for a project management tool, Blue Fox knew that they needed a tool with recurring actions. As an accounting firm, they have dozens of recurring actions across a wide range of clients that need to repeat monthly, specifically between the 10th and 20th of each month. Their project management tool needed to have recurring actions that enabled tracking of these important client action items.
They were also looking for a tool that was reasonably priced — many accounting softwares ranged from $60-80 per user, and that was not cost-effective for their startup team. Additionally, it was important that whatever tool they chose was able to integrate with other tools, especially as a remote team, to allow seamless collaboration across their organization for all levels.
When Blue Fox found Hive, they knew that they had found the central hub that would power progress and excellence. In Hive, all of their projects are broken out by the client — the parent project is the client, under which all other projects and action items are nested. Because their work with each client is totally siloed, it was important that each client had their own unique project ecosystem.
I cannot remember my work life before Hive. This is the first time I’ve used project management software and never want to go back. Hive helps me effectively manage my projects and engage with our team to communicate and meet deadlines. – Chelsea Clementi, Director of Marketing
As soon as Blue Fox starts with a new client, they create a client project and kick off the first month together with a “Synopsis” action card, which they populate through an action template in Hive. This gives their team an overview of the new account and allows any bookkeeper from their team to take a quick glance at the card and understand the client. Additionally, each project has a child project dedicated to their “Client Guide,” which provides information about the core operating principles and details of this specific client. This client guide is also developed within the first four weeks of the client being onboarded into their roster.
At a task level, recurring actions are the bread and butter of Blue Fox’s workflow in Hive. Because they are an accounting firm, they have tons of recurring actions that need to exist for each client every month. This could be something as simple as “Download banking data” or “Adjusting journal entry.” Because these things need to be done every month, the Hive recurring action functionality has become a core part of their workflow, saving their organization over three hours per week.
Even more important is the action card description section, which serves as an audit trail for all changes made throughout the action card’s lifecycle. Every quarter, Blue Fox generates an audit trail to track all progress and provide written confirmation of actions taken and changes made. To do this, they export great volumes of actions in Hive, and the action card description is a critical part of that. By updating the description regularly, they ensure that they have all relevant changes, tweaks, and other updates to each action card saved.
To communicate back and forth in Hive, the Blue Fox team heavily relies on Hive chat as well as comments and tags in action cards. Since they are a fully remote team, Hive chat is imperative, and has replaced Slack, which they used before finding Hive. In Hive chat, the team has various groups for different departments, ranging from “Operations” to “Marketing,” and “All Team,” which includes their external freelancers as well who operate as external users in Hive. There’s even a “Hive University” chat, where their team tracks any new changes made in Hive, and they’re also heavy users of the Hive and Giphy integration, which lets them send fun images back and forth to lighten the mood. Finally, the Hive chat and Zoom integration is also used frequently by their team as a way to stay connected and communicative.
The Hive mail and Zoom integration reduced the back and forth that we have with each other, decreasing the amount of emails we needed to send by 60% and upping overall productivity across the board. – Chantal Sheehan, CEO
Hive Forms are also a critical part of the Blue Fox workflow, as they allow clients to be onboarded seamlessly and information to be collected with a few clicks. Another app, Focus Mode, helps Blue Fox’s CEO Chantal Sheehan take the necessary time to review and address certain action items without external distractions.
Summary views are also used across the organization, especially by managers like Chantal and project managers who monitor the client workflow and deliverables. They can quickly add tasks into a summary view by label and see the big picture quickly. Some of Blue Fox’s labels include “Year End,” “Month End,” and “Onboarding,” which help the leadership team track progress over time. The summary view is crucial for the CEO specifically, as she can get a quick snapshot overview, easily seeing which actions are overdue, on track, or completed, without having to gather too many external inputs.
One of the great things about Hive is that we don’t have to force anyone to use it. Everyone can work their own way in Hive — Hive is the tool we need to do our work well. – Chantal Sheehan
Overall, Hive has helped Blue Fox grow exponentially in team size and continue to expand their business.
Hive has been the rocket fuel that has aided in their growth, and they look forward to continually exploring new and different areas of Hive to help their business.
We wouldn’t be able to serve our clients as seamlessly and as efficiently as we do without Hive. I can’t think of another tool that could propel our growth as well or as easily as Hive does. – Chantal Sheehan