There are multitudes of platforms claiming to be the all-in-one solution. Promising to manage your productivity and your teams’. We’re not on that hype train! But, SmartSuite caught our attention, because they’ve been working on bringing it to market, for almost three years! They have built, customized, and developed their platform with over 100 developers. What also piqued our interest is, that Jon knows that workflows and processes are the building blocks of a successful productivity system.
SmartSuite CEO Jon Darbyshire has a solid understanding of managing workflows in organizations. For the last 30 years, he has specialized in working in business process management. In fact, it was Jon and his team that built one of the first no-code platforms on the market! He founded Archer Technologies in the year 2000, with a vision to create an enterprise software platform that could assist leading organizations in managing governance, risk, and compliance workflows. With the idea that business users, and not developers should be able to adapt the software to their unique business requirements.
In the podcast, Jon sits down with Tom and shares that SmartSuite started three years ago, with a similar idea. To bring that same level of sophistication to the market. He wanted to provide Premium Enterprise Software, Built for StartUps and SMBs, as well as enterprise companies.
But, at a price point that’s never been seen before. Thus, effectively and efficiently bringing high-level software to the masses!
Hit play to listen to the Podcast! Or, take it all in – digest the full blog post below!
What is SmartSuite
SmartSuite is a work management productivity space, that helps organizations manage any workflow process within their organization. To them, a workflow process is considered either a project or a process within your organization. Unlike many project management platforms we use today, they’re not just a task-centric product, that simply manages your tasks. Instead, they help manage the end-to-end processes. Tasks are just one piece of a complex workflow.
Benefits of SmartSuite for Small Businesses
Prebuilt – ‘solutions’ – These SmartSuite solutions allow you to standardize your process right from the get-go. Which in turn, allows for scalability. This is totally different when compared to the likes of ClickUp. At times – especially if you’re a productivity novice – the blank canvas approach can be daunting and can make you feel like you have nothing to start with.
Integrations – Integrations are really important, especially when you’re building a productivity tool stack. It’s a lot easier for a company to adopt a new tool when they’re able to keep their current systems operational. Tools that integrate well with other platforms provide companies with greater value. They allow them to leverage the value of their current tool stack!
SmartSuite provides users with three levels of integration that you can use.
- Use their API
- Through Zapier – they have a connection that gives them access to over 3000 products that they’ve already connected with. You don’t have to be a developer in most cases, to set up that connection. Plus they integrate with make.com (formally known as Integromat)
- Native integration – following customer feedback they are building more and more
Everything is connected!
Tom has long said we need to run our business in a way that our workflows can interconnect with multiple departments and our information doesn’t end up being siloed.
This is the aspect that’s got Tom’s heart pumping! It’s something he’s always wondered why it wasn’t already on the market. He narrows down his reasoning and makes the following point:
“Developers create a solution to a specific problem, but they have no experience when it comes to cross-department work. They come up with a solution for just Sales, just Marketing, or just Customer Success when in reality all of these are connected!”
This is why the premade solutions provided by SmartSuite helps startups so much – it helps get a standard process in there already. But, at the same time, it’s focused on enterprise-level business, where stability and scalability are essential.
In Big Corporate where 10 thousand tasks run at the same time – on a single project. You can’t just destroy your existing systems and endanger your entire business continuity.
Processes and Projects. What’s the difference?
Many of the current project management platforms fall into two categories:
1) Project Management: individual activities that have a defined end date in mind. Project management focuses on defining discrete goals for a particular initiative, creating and assigning tasks, and managing due dates.
2) Process Management: something that’s ongoing. Something happening inside your business that helps run and manage your business. A function or department focused on Process Management, for example, would be HR or Sales. Within them, they have their own workflows. Workflows that facilitate tracking the core elements of those processes – often individual goals with an overall objective.
Two approaches to using SmartSuite
From experience, SmartSuite have organizations that come to them and say:
We already use six or eight other tools to manage our business. What we don’t like about those tools is that our people have to jump around between the different tools. This also means we have many separate license agreements.
They go on to say; when they have a new employee, they have to set them up in six places. Plus when somebody leaves, they’re not sure where all the data is. It could be on their local machine or in any one of the six to eight different platforms they were using. As you can imagine this is a big issue for security as well.
- Use SmartSuite to solve an area like Sales. They have connectors, either directly with their API, or connect through Zapier or,
- If you have current running processes, whether a system internal or external system that you like and works really well, and you just need to sync the data works well too.
Both approaches are Cost-effective.
Changing systems doesn’t happen in a couple of months. Some large legacy systems the companies SmartSuite work with operate can take them a year or two to move off of, so chopping and changing is completely out of the question.
SmartSuite vs Other project management tools
Project managing tools, like Monday, Asana, Wrike, and Trello start at the task level. They are designed to be focused on very specific tasks. Things then get built on top of specific tasks. The architecture of SmartSuite however, is very different. They start from a process perspective. With SmartSuite, you manage processes.
SmartSuite not only want to help you manage projects but also want to help you run your business efficiently which means you should be able to access and optimize every part of your digital business operations on a single platform. They bring together some of the biggest high-end business process automation tools like ServiceNow, Mindex, and mirror them with the project management tools.
SmartSuite encompasses not only the project management side of your business but also focuses on ‘point-solutions’, like bringing in SalesForce for your Sales, HubSpot for your marketing, and high-end process management with Mindex or OpenPages all into a single platform. By now we’re sure you understand why we’re intrigued by SmartSuite. They seem to be extremely intentional about their platform – understandably too – with all the components being brought together. They definitely didn’t want to come to market with something half-baked.
SmartSuite & ICOR®
Often we get lost on our quest to find the next ‘shiny object’ The tool to solve it all! In reality, it doesn’t matter what tool we use or what state our productivity tool stack is in. In reality, it’s a lack of understanding the processes we have in place, and not grasping that what goes in will always dictate what comes out. This is what Tom teaches with ICOR® Mastery.
It’s all about understanding how to leverage the tools we use, not relying on them to solve our fundamental problems.Tom Solid
SmartSuite have developed close to 200 business process templates. So an organization can log in and say, I’m interested in sales and they’ll give them a listing of the 8-10 core processes that any organization needs to start with from a sales perspective. If they say Sales & CRM, SmartSuite say, okay, you need accounts, contacts, opportunities, and leads, maybe contracts. This solution-based approach can solve 90/95% of what SmartSuite users are looking for, but they can easily go in and tailor their setup and change the names of fields, etc.
What Jon sees typically happening, is that SmartSuite customers start with a single process like sales, and then decide to use some of the marketing solutions. But, with the nature of how SmartSuite is set up, everything is connected, and there is no duplication of data in multiple places. So when you add an account to the sales team, it automatically shows up as an account for the marketing team to connect to as well.
Security, KPIs, and Dashboards
Having your people and your teams across all business processes, all in one place gives you a greater feeling of security. It also allows you to understand who has access to your information.
Reliable KPIs is the backbone of every well-oiled business and having a unified system gives you standardized data and in turn, pushes out current, realistic, actionable KPIs.
What’s unique about, SmartSuite to some of the other tools on the market is that they span data across any process in our company. So you can set up a dashboard. That goes across sales and marketing, customer success, and recruiting. And you can have all that data served up to you in one single dashboard.
Why SmartSuite was built
As mentioned in the intro, around 2000, Jon started a company called Archer Technologies helping enterprise organizations manage cybersecurity inside of their companies.
The award-winning Archer solution suite became the mainstay of governance, risk, and compliance teams for some of the world’s largest organizations, including 1 in 3 of the Fortune 100, 29 of the top 30 financial services companies, and leading telecom, healthcare, insurance, and technology companies.
With SmartSuite, they wanted to create something for the masses, something developed and tailored for enterprise-level companies but, targeted at Startups, SMBs, and Businesses looking to scale. A tool that combines process and project management functions in a unified platform. For you to develop the building blocks needed to tailor the business environment you operate in, and service the unique needs of each organization.
You have access to the information you need from across your organization, all in one place – without the need for complex and costly integration projects, multiple logins, and the hassle of constantly changing context.
So is SmartSuite another ClickUp copycat? I think we’ve answered that already.
It’s two tools that have a completely different approach to Task and Knowledge Management.