Go ahead and jump

If you are an elite parachutist, 4000 is the number at which you open your reserve parachute if the main one fails to deploy. It goes a bit like this:

Jump thousand, two-thousand, pull-thousand, check-thousand 

At Cyberbia, 4000 was the day we cut loose one business management system and opened another.

Everyone loves a good filing system, and Cyberbia is no different. Back in the day, we used oversized paper envelopes to file client work. Everyone did, printers especially. Metal plates, sheets of film and press proofs take up a lot of room. From Cyberbia job number (CJN) 001 to 986, everything was manual and paper-based (with the odd email printed and thrown in for good measure). We even printed copies of our digital work to keep for examples.

As the world went digital we responded by building our own online job tracking system. It allowed better task allocation and time tracking, and thereby simpler invoicing. And it started at CJN 987.

If there is one thing that the web development and graphic design communities have in common, it is that change never stops. And so in April 2012 we migrated to a WorkflowMax system, starting with CJN 4001.

Like many tools today, WorkflowMAX is subscription-based. The size of the user base works in our favour because it gives the developer resources to keep improving the tool. So far we enjoy more dimensioned control, cloud-based quote and invoice generation, task specification and cost-reporting, planning resources and deadline scheduling.

In business as in life, one size rarely fits all. A fully-featured supply chain management tool would offer more than we would use. At the same time, while individual studio members use a plethora of personal productivity apps (such as Notes, Stickies, Clear, Reminders, Things, Wunderlist, Asana and even Excel!), none of them have all the features we need as a business-wide tool.

Last year we celebrated the opening of CJN 5000. This number reflects both the volume of work we have completed over the years and the way the work has changed. Whereas once we would have lumped all aspects of a job into one job number, now we separate the registration form backend build from the eDM Photoshop layout, and give print and manufacturing a different number again. We have found that by doing so tasks are better clarified, confusion is reduced, costs are better tracked and on it goes.

It will be interesting to see what the next tool looks like. But for now (and we are on job 5536), we are pretty happy with this one.

And we are not sad to see the end of the envelopes either.