July 27, 2020

A new Sortd for Teams (Early Preview)

Soon we'll be launching some team features that will make Sortd the ultimate tool for managing customers, suppliers and teamwork in Gmail.

I’m excited to announce the upcoming release of some game changing team features for Sortd, that are going to make it the ultimate lightweight tool for managing small teams and businesses.

First, some context…

When we started Sortd some years ago, we had a vision to change the way email is used to manage work forever. Today, in many companies instant messaging has widely replaced email for internal communication. But for external communication – email is here to stay!

So, for anyone who needs to engage with both the outside world (customers, suppliers, partners, candidates…) and their internal team – conversations are all over the place – fragmented across Email, Slack, iMessage, Whatsapp etc. It’s an achievement just to keep your day on track without missing something!

This is not always an issue for people like creatives and software developers, who would be happy never to see an email again. But that also means your client facing team need to spend half their day translating customer needs into something the rest of the company can use to deliver the work.

None of this is good for overall productivity, and it leaves team leaders and business owners with a very loose grasp of what’s actually happening on the ground. We’ve spent countless hours grappling with how best to deal with the needs of a rapidly changing world. And… I think we just might have cracked the code!

While Sortd remains one of the most tightly email-integrated solutions on planet Earth, it’s now become far more than a workspace for managing tasks and email. Years of learning and speaking with thousands of customers have led us to what we now believe truly is the future of work.

Think Email | CRM | Team Chat | Task Management & Business Workflows – all in one system, in your Gmail where you are working already, and your entire team is comfortable.

Here’s what’s coming in the next release of Sortd

1. The workspace is getting a major upgrade

Everything related to a deal / job / project can now live much closer together in one place (and linked to a customer record)… attached files, conversations, notes, emails with customers and suppliers, even your own properties (I’ll get to that shortly). No more looking for documents or information in email, chat and folders. Just open it up on your shared board in Gmail, and everything is right there, for anyone in the team to see. With the ability to send a contextual email to a customer or a message to a co-worker right there!

If you want to assign work to a co-worker, you don’t need to forward or capture information in another system. Just drag it to the shared board and everyone on the team can now see the email and any notes. It really just makes getting work done with a team that much easier.

At a later point (a.k.a very very soon) we’ll even be adding alternative views like a table layout and more filtering options so you can quickly see exactly what you need, when you need it.

2. You can now map out workflows for all your business processes

The days of needing multiple specialized systems to manage the various areas of your business are over. With custom properties you can map your business processes to as many workflows as you need, and keep track of work through each stage, in an organized way, right in Gmail.

Types of Custom Properties:
Text – Useful for: Notes, billing addresses, secondary email addresses, short comments, job titles.
Number – Useful for: Order quantity, discount percentage, commission, priority level, estimates.
Number currency – Useful for: Deal values, commission, amounts.
Status – Useful for: Tracking work through different stages and states.
Multi-selection and Tagging – List of predefined options where multiple can be selected. Useful for: Industry, region, competitors, job title, tags.
Dropdown – Useful for: Production stage, invoicing stage, lead type, category, industry, job title.
Date – Useful for: Delivery date, deadlines.
Checklists – Useful for: Tracking completion of operational processes.
Files – Useful for: Attaching order forms, customer documents, proposals.

All of this information is displayed every time one of your team members opens a job / project / task, which makes it very easy for everyone to stick to your operational process consistently.

On the surface, custom properties are simply placeholders for information your team needs in to deliver work for a customer. But the data is actually stored in something that more closely resembles a table, so you can think of a custom property as column that you create on a spreadsheet, where the type (number, text etc) is the cell format. The rows map to the cards on your board, so when you create a custom property it is available to be set on every item.

This makes all kinds of data analysis possible, and we will be implementing more interesting ways to get a handle on everything going on with projects, teams and across the entire business. (watch this space).

So now you can run your entire operation from the very first customer email to the last in one simple team workspace.

For a step by step walkthrough on how to use this properly, read this guide to using custom properties.

3. Chat with your team in context, right alongside customer emails.

Any person on your team who receives an email from a customer or supplier can turn it into a collaborative work item by simply dragging it onto the shared team board. Collaborators on that board can then open the email (whether they were copied or not), and even reply directly to customers and suppliers themselves. This makes hand-offs to coworkers, and team discussion around customer needs & issues easier than ever before!

But things start to get really interesting when have external and internal communication in the same place.

Every email, task, or project can be discussed with your team, in real time, in context of the work it’s about.

The ability to chat in real-time makes customer turnaround times much faster! When a company gets back to you quicker than you expected – it’s like they had you at hello! You can be that company. Sortd makes it possible for everyone in your organization to adhere to a standard of service delivery you’ve never been able to reach before.

Email-based team chat is one of those things that just ‘feels right’. Once you start using email this way, you’ll never want to go back. If it’s hard for you to imagine, just try it for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

4. We’ve added templates for almost any process/workflow you can think of

Whether you’re looking to manage your sales pipeline, or keep track of a complicated production process involving both customers and suppliers – Sortd has got you covered.

And that’s about it for the highlights. Dig in, give it all a try and if you need any help figuring out how best to use it with your team, feel free to reach out to us at team@sortd.com.

What are all these changes in aid of?

To briefly explain some of the thinking behind all of the recent work we’ve done…

In the time that we’ve engaged with teams in various industries, we’ve found one thing consistently – managing ‘work’ is more complicated than it should be. In many cases it’s plainly a mess. There’s too much reliance on a small number of individuals to keep things on track, and a general reluctance from people to follow an arduous process. As a result we consistently see the same problems playing out again and again…

  • No clarity on who’s doing what or what the current status of work is.
  • A reliance on lengthy status meetings to find out what you should already know.
  • Information trapped in peoples’ meeting notes and not accessible to the team.
  • Important things constantly slipping through the cracks.
  • Customer enquiries getting lost in the noise.

Any combination of the above problems cause delayed response times, slow turnaround times, and cost money when there are mistakes. Businesses lose customers over this stuff. So of course companies try to adopt systems to solve these problems…

They utilize specialized software, which is often complex and leads to data silos; spreadsheets, that quickly become ‘big’ and difficult to manage; and Instant Messaging, which is used excessively, distracts people and lacks the context of where things are on the plan.

In addition to all of that, people also have to learn how to use those systems. Team adoption is often the reason that these initiatives in companies fail – and it doesn’t take long for all that time and effort to go gurgling down the drain.

All in all, there’s a lot of time wasted on simple things like the ability to find what you’re looking for / quickly pull up project information for a customer when you need it, and duplication of effort to maintain all the specialized systems.

At Sortd, it’s our mission to solve all of the above problems without the need for people to learn a new system or change much in terms of their daily workflow. i.e. to get operational teamwork tracked and organized with almost no additional effort.

These features have been built to support that mission.

The end (nearly)

If you are an existing Sortd user you will automatically get early access to all of these features and more. If you need to install the Sortd extension again, you can get it from the Sortd web site or Chrome Web Store.

Any questions or comments – please feel free to reach out to us at team@sortd.com, or pop them in the comments below.

Written by
Wayne Silbermann