SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

M&A: BoomTime acquires attachedapps

Many readers know that we’ve helped tell the attachedapps story at SMB Nation for the past 2+ years. It’s a start-up that has “layered” on top of Office 365 with a -baby CRM- solution similar to Business Contact Manager (BCM) in the early 2000s. This past week, BoomTime announced the acquisition of attachedapps to integrate it into its Marketing-as-a-Service (MaaS) play. I consider this a case of attachedapps starting over with a new life.

I have used attachedapps in a Big Data venture I’m involved in and I can honestly say I know the product intimately. Its paradigm was -shared contacts- for the GoDaddy-sized S of SMB. I’ve used it for its simplicity in a start-up where Salesforce or Dynamics would be overkill. Somethings I like (the reporting) and some things I don’t (hard to customize). Overall I think it’s a good move that attachedapps was acquired by BoomTime. To me, strategically, it’s a case of a solution that has now found a home.

However, in the spirt of being independent and transparency, the attachedapps acquisition does raise concerns. It is not taking on new customers for now. The roadmap with respect to BoomTime integration is not published. Do existing attachedapps customers need the increased functionality of BoomTime? All valid questions.

attachedapps bootime

With respect to my continued use of attachedapps, I can tell you this. I’m in discovery mode with respect to what alternatives exist to migrate to. So far my research has led to Slingr from Idea2 and the amazing Grace Schroeder whom many SMB Nation community members know well. It’s a fully customized CRM-like solution that is layered on top of Slack. I’ll do a deep dive in a future blog on Slingr as it deserves standalone treatment. But I can tell you this. As I look at the possibilities, Slingr feels like I’d be leap frogging over traditional CRM solutions that have a legacy feel. It’s just frickin cool. Think of it this way. In the early days of Small Business Server (SBS), one of my worldwide tours took me to El Salvador. There were few landlines, and primarily mobile phones. Why? Because after the 12-year Salvadoran Civil War the country rebuilt and leaped frogged right up to mobility. Great in earthquakes and the rebels can’t cut the landlines is how it was explained to me.

BONUS: Attend our MSP M&A (Part 2: Sell-Side) webinar this Thursday at Noon Pacific (GMT-8), August 18, 2016. Sign-up HERE.

Analyst Discolure: I hold stock options and am in investor in attachedapps.

 

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Analysis: Why I’m Qualified to Discuss AttachedApps

Analysis: Why I’m Qualified to Discuss AttachedApps

Over the next couple blogs, I’ll review AttachedApps, a contact management system for small businesses (and I’d assert Start-Ups in particular). I’m qualified to have this conversation with you. I use AttachedApps. And I use it in a start-up. Let me use this blog for the proper context and later I’ll rock the speeds and feeds.

There is a popular philosophy about being a lean start-up.

Just as the name implies, you keep it simple stupid. I’m currently involved in a Big Data start-up in Seattle in addition to my ownership role at SMB Nation. I’ve learn a lot over the past year about what a real investor-backed start-up looks like. It’s been like earning a second MBA. One decision relevant to this conversation with to use AttachedApps as our “baby CRM” system. I can now say that I’ve used nearly every major CRM solution including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 (“Dynamics CRM”) and NetSuite. I still use a couple programs daily supporting the Big Data clients we have.

But internally, the decision was made to roll with AttachedApps from day one. Why? Simplicity! Essentially instead of being consumed with the complexity of Saleforce et al, the prevailing sentiment was to just get stuff done. I get it. When I work with the big boys (Salesforce, Dynamics CRM), you find yourself spending more time just trying to figure out how to do something. You know it can be done, you’re just not sure how to do it. Then there is the notion that most people use a fraction of the power in the big boy CRM packages. With AttachedApps, using it daily, I can honest say I’m using the majority of the horsepower that comes standard! 
Bottom line: Rethink the technology you deploy in a start-up. Complexity is overkill. Consider simplicity like AttachedApps.

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Using Spreadsheets to Track Sales Opportunities

By Jennifer Hallmark, President, SMB Nation - 

A large proportion of small and medium-sized businesses use spreadsheets to track and manage their sales process instead of a dedicated software application, aka customer relationship management (or CRM) software. We’ve noted the following advantages and disadvantages of this choice:

Advantages:

1. Ease of use: Most people already know how to open a spreadsheet and make changes to it. Many old style CRM applications are complex and require significant user training, not to mention IT resources to setup and configure. Newer-style CRM applications are lighter and easier to use, taking away some of the advantage that spreadsheets had in the past.
2. No additional cost: Most employees already have access to a spreadsheet program or can access them for no cost.
3. Highly customizable: Spreadsheets can be customized as you go without a programming language.

Disadvantages:

1. Syncing: Before cloud storage was widely available, keeping spreadsheets synced between users was a major headache. That’s become much easier these days.
2. Integrations: Inside a spreadsheet, it’s not easy to have access to your contacts, your email, social media or other related applications. A properly designed CRM app can provide workflow advantages by bringing these elements together (if done with close attention to the user experience).
3. Mobile: It’s not easy to use a spreadsheet on a mobile phone screen, although using a tablet can work fine. Dedicated mobile apps for CRM are very popular and can increase the likelihood that users embrace the application.
4. Reporting: Getting the right reports and historical information from a spreadsheet can get quite complicated and difficult to manage.attached apps logo login

There really isn’t a right or wrong answer, it comes down to preferences and requirements. For more information about the app that turns Office 365 into a powerful sales tool, click here.

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