I love Washington, DC and I am proud to call it home. It’s a beautiful city – and much like other cities around the world, it’s undergoing rapid change. This change has everything to do with how we treat one another and whether we choose to involve ourselves in shaping society. That requires people listen to each other, reflect and act. Are you doing enough? Are you aware of others’ perspectives?
For some time, I’ve worked with key business partners to develop ImpactHub.org – an online marketplace for businesses to find and engage with social impact outsourcing firms around the world. I’m pleased to say that we are getting closer to a re-launch of this venture with re-focussed mission.
It often takes a human touch to accurately process business documents, databases and imagery. Companies are increasingly looking for ways to outsource digital tasks in a socially-responsible way. It’s a win-win: businesses get quality work and communities thrive.
The practice of socially-responsible outsourcing, also called Impact Sourcing, recently touched down in Washington, DC.
We connected a local tech company with high-tech workers in Kenya to process architectural drawings. We helped migrate the work to the Nairobi-based team and provided business process improvement.
The Washington Post described Social Tables as “a fast-growing digital business that has raised more than $1.5 million from D.C.-area investors and has more than 500 customers, including hotels.” Their online platform provides dynamic diagramming and guest management solutions for the international hospitality industry. The company’s diverse list of clientele ranges from hotel chains such as the Hyatt Hotel Corporation to academic special events teams from Harvard Business School to corporate meeting teams such as Goldman Sachs.
Social Tables received many architectural drawings from event venues that were converted into floor plan layouts compatible with their software platform. The Kenya team followed stringent rules to trace the architectural diagrams and create new versions. Converting architectural diagrams into more usable, digital floor plans was vital to the planning and support process for their customers.
As a result of our efforts, they reduced the size of their processing queue by over 60%. The customer success team said their “efficiency has never been higher.” Event planners and global hotel brands, such as Hyatt Hotels Corporation (NYSE: H), benefited from the work. Social Tables’ CEO, Dan Berger said “Nick and his team have done an incredible job. The confidence we have in their team is a direct result of the high quality of their efforts.”
Many such businesses have emerged in Nairobi, but our provider partner intentionally employs people from economically disadvantaged communities. The staff receives valuable technology training and a steady paycheck–often their first. Studies show that this practice of socially-responsible outsourcing, or Impact Sourcing, translates into a better quality of life for workers, their families and their communities.
For a number of years, I’ve done digital creative agency work as Team Lead of Social Grinder. We try to spend more time growing our business and less time running it. We reviewed payment and accounting tools in search of a fully automated billing solution. We use FreshBooks to log team time spent on various client projects. It’s one of many web-based accounting system that sends invoices to our clients. They make it easy for us to accept credit card and PayPal payments, but fees can quickly add up. Electronic bank payments are the best low cost alternative, but even the most popular apps for processing such payments (i.e. Dwolla) require manual effort from the customer and vendor with each transaction.
Bill.com was the best solution we found that connects with FreshBooks (through OneSaaS) and enabled us to fully automate accounts receivables for willing clients. Tech startups get it: If there’s trust, just review invoices when there’s time to do so – but let the transactional nature of work continue anabaited.
Watch our video to learn how to do this for yourself.
Community management has come a long way since the first Community Manager Appreciation Day in 2009. We’re interacting with our audiences in new formats and on new platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest. Our online conversations have become more sophisticated with tools that allow us to curate social updates and host live video chats. Success measurement is more streamlined, and we’re shaping our strategies around both organic and paid growth.
But amidst the excitement of these advancements, it seems something has gotten lost. We’ve forgotten why we got into this business and what, at its core, it’s really all about: people.