Solution Cell works with Project Plan Services to optimize its clients’ business transformation journeys
Solution Cell uses Smartsheet to save time and effort planning and executing client transformation journeys, replacing fragmented applications with a single source of information.
- Professional Services
- Small (1 - 49 employees)
- Professional Services Management
- Project Visibility
One of the very valuable tools we use is for capturing feedback on the programs we deliver,” says Sue Beasey, operations manager at Solution Cell. “We used to have the people in a room fill in a form and give it to the consultant, who would post it to us. Now we send the participants a link to a Smartsheet form that sends the information straight into a sheet. We can share that with the client whose course it was, or anonymously with others to say that, ‘Of the 2,000 people we’ve trained in the last six months, 1,998 said they wanted to continue with us.’ That would have been days of work to put together before, and now it’s probably 10 minutes to set it up before the course and 10 minutes afterward to put it all together.
Solution Cell has built a thriving consultancy on helping organizations develop, plan, and execute long-term changes to behavior and culture. Sue Beasey, operations manager at Solution Cell, saw that as the company’s growth accelerated, it needed to make its own change by adopting a technology platform to more efficiently manage and track client work. Smartsheet helps Solution Cell save time and effort while supporting cross-team collaboration.
“You name it and we’ve tried it,” Beasey says. “The company had just started to grow massively, and nothing was really managing our projects for us. It’s no good having a project solution where you spend so much time inputting information, and then all you get at the end is, ‘Write the letter on Wednesday,’ whereas Smartsheet isn’t so time-consuming. It’s very visual, which we all like, and it’s very easy to bring other people into a project.”
One of Solution Cell’s points of pride is its ability to create a unique plan for each client, based on their specific needs and goals. Every client journey includes individualized, highly interactive programs designed to drive behavioral change. That used to require creating each client journey from scratch, which made it difficult to establish standardized practices. As the company refined a menu of branded approaches that could be personalized for each client’s transformation process, Beasey grew more confident that they could find a technology platform to lighten the business’s administrative burden. But she wasn’t willing to settle for the first tool she saw.
The right partner for the right platform
Peter Allanach is director of Project Plan Services (PPS), a Smartsheet Platinum Partner in the U.K. He says Smartsheet is the company’s leading product because of its comprehensive capabilities and ease of use. Allanach and his team worked with Solution Cell to tailor a technology platform that would support the company’s clearly defined processes and goals.
“The initial ask was very straightforward,” Allanach says. “Solution Cell had a lot of information — financial information, task coordination information — that needed to be connected into a rolled-up view. There was a very clear set of processes to be optimized. So often, we come across clients that are aware they need something but can’t quite put a finger on it. With Solution Cell, it’s been a great opportunity to come up with a focused solution and demonstrate that it’s not just the larger or more traditional project management companies who can benefit from a planning cloud solution such as Smartsheet.”
PPS and Smartsheet have helped Solution Cell bring together its business processes on a single platform that integrates information while cutting time and effort out of everyone’s day.
“My boss thought I was resistant to change, but I was more resistant to changing to something that would not shorten the amount of time I spent working on it but [would instead] lengthen it,” Beasey says. “And then we met PPS, and it was quite plain to all of us straight away that this would work. They have laughed at me quite a lot at work because I’ve accepted something. I have been promoting it to everyone because, quite simply it works, and it works quite simply.”
A single source of truth saves time and effort
Solution Cell’s process starts with on-site discovery visits with a client to understand its unique situation. The company then customizes a journey that includes online trainings, in-person workshops, small group coaching, and more, all designed to help clients reach their goals. Planning a journey used to require moving information between disconnected documents and applications; incorporating client feedback and schedule changes required multiple layers of updating and cross-checking. Smartsheet eliminates that time and complexity, providing a single source of program information that’s fast and easy to create and update.
“It has stopped us having seven or eight different tools doing different things,” Beasey says. “We would record the finances in one way; we would record the project [and] the tasks in another way. There are still special sheets for some of the projects, but they’re all connected, and they result in a final sheet that shows every detail: how we expect it to roll out, what dates it’ll roll out, what the finances will be as we go through the year, what it’ll look like at the end. For me, that’s probably the most important thing.”
As a client journey proceeds, Smartsheet streamlines the process of sharing updates and progress. Solution Cell uses Smartsheet forms to cut days out of individual workshop evaluations; instead of returning paper feedback forms, participants fill out an online form that sends ratings and comments to a central sheet. Beasey says other aspects of client communication, such as completion status and schedule updates, can be communicated with just a few clicks.
“It’s very easy to share Smartsheet with a client,” Beasey says. “It looks good. It looks consistent and it’s not too daunting. I’ve had clients who have shared their particular project management systems with me, and it needs a key, and it’s just so complicated. Whereas in this case if you share it, they can see exactly what you want them to see and nothing else. It’s a really good way of doing it in one step, not several steps.”
A platform good enough to recommend to rivals
Beasey is such a fan of Smartsheet, she has even recommended it to acquaintances at another business in the same consulting market.
“We were talking with them quite recently, and they were saying that they just cannot find something like Smartsheet that will work with everything else,” Beasey says. “So I gave them PPS’s contact details. We don’t always speak to other training and consultancy providers. They do what they do, we do what we do, and it’s all kept quite separate until we clash, such as when we’re actually vying for a piece of business. But I thought they would really benefit from Smartsheet. You wouldn’t begrudge anyone, rival company or not, using something that really helps; why would you?”
Beasey and her colleagues plan to continue working with PPS to incorporate more Smartsheet features, typically one new major capability per year. The next target for Solution Cell is optimizing the use of automation; Beasey notes there are still a number of project steps that depend on manual reminders and workflows, things that she’s sure Smartsheet can expedite with just a bit of strategic effort. She’s confident that these and future additional capabilities will be as easy to learn as the ones they already use have been — and as easy to rely on.
“It’s not just learning a new tool, it’s trusting a new tool,” Beasey says. “We ran both Smartsheet and our old spreadsheets side by side for a while to make sure it did work. It’s very difficult to trust something new with what in effect is your whole company and all its data. That is quite a significant thing to take on, and I do think the ease of the way it works helped us to trust it implicitly very quickly.”