ESBG Design is the perfect example of a boutique design firm with a big reach and a global reputation. "We're a graphic design company and we work with lots of different clients in a variety of different industries, but the core of our business and what we're known for worldwide is motor sports livery design," said the founder's brother, one of the two partners at ESBG Design. "We design livery programs for race teams and sponsors all around the world."
- No centralized, company-wide view of project status
- Difficulty managing resource allocation, causing under-commitment or over-commitment to projects
- Manually inputting data into QuickBooks for billing
During its busy season in December and January, ESBG has anywhere from seven to 15 ongoing projects, some of which have many sub-projects contained within them. "Going back seven or eight years when our business exploded and we had more work than we could manage by email and Outlook – which is how we managed projects in the beginning – we were surprised at how difficult it was to find a software solution to do what I would consider pretty basic and fundamental things in terms of project tracking, task tracking, tracking time against tasks, and resource allocation. And we used to get a lot of laughs when we asked about resource allocation, because we're only tracking the work of one or two guys," said the partner.
"The thing is that we've got a lot of balls that one person is juggling when we're taking incoming project requests. We are trying to allocate the limited resources that we have, whether it's one person or 2000 people, it really is in many ways the same problem," he explained. "And none of the really small products that were designed for independent freelancers or SOHO-type products provided any kind of solution like that." With ESBG's two partners separated by several states, "Even using something like Microsoft Project and getting all of the projects in a single space where we could manage them and view them together was not possible. You can't even do that with MS Project, a solution that's probably one of the most popular project tools on the planet," said the partner.
"We tried many platforms on a trial basis and none really satisfied the requirements. We did sign up with another provider and worked with them for a couple of years. We were pretty happy in many ways with their offering, but the solution fell short in a couple of specific areas. For instance, all the information that we were capturing in the software, needed to be manually transferred over to QuickBooks for our billing purposes. It was really a nightmare."