Kristin Ewart and Amanda Strickland, solution consultants for Dooap, an AP automation company in Austin, TX describe:
- Their personal work experience with the work from home change
- The change in their customer relationship dynamic
- The change in Dooap's company culture
Brent Hametner (00:00):
This is episode two of the AP Automazing podcast where we talk about all things accounts payable automation. Hi everyone. This is Brent Hametner, your host for the AP Automazing podcast. Today I'm happy to be joined by Amanda Strickland and Kristen Ewart, solution consultants for Dooap, an AP automation company based in Austin, Texas. Amanda, Kristen, thanks for joining us.
Kristin Ewart (00:28):
Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.
Brent Hametner (00:31):
Sure, sure. So the topic of today's conversation is on adapting accounts payable to remote conditions and we've all been in lockdown for about I guess six weeks now and all the national conversation's around the topic of how and when will we reopen for business. I was curious to know how Dooap and its customers are fairing with the new work routines. But before that, Amanda, I'd like to start with you. How have your personal work routines changed?
Amanda Strickland (00:57):
Well, I primarily worked remote before the pandemic. So in many respects, my work routine has not really changed much aside from working longer hours. With the social distancing, I no longer have social league activities in the evenings, which actually makes it easier for me to spread work tasks out throughout the day and have a little bit more time for professional growth and learning.
Brent Hametner (01:20):
Gotcha. Gotcha. And how about yourself Kristen?
Kristin Ewart (01:23):
Well, I've worked about 50% remotely before the stay at home orders were in effect fully. And to be honest, my work routine hasn't really changed. However working from home has allowed me to start earlier and continue later even working into the weekends sometimes depending on what projects I have going on, but other than that, working from home I would say really hasn't changed a whole lot. Seeing as I've been doing it 50% of the time prior to having a stay at home order.
Brent Hametner (01:58):
Gotcha. Has it been something that you've enjoyed with the change? Is it something that you like more or what are your thoughts about it?
Kristin Ewart (02:08):
I really enjoy working from home. I enjoy being able to work earlier and if something comes up in the middle of the day, I can pick work back up and then in the evening hours. On the other hand, I do miss the face to face meetings. Being able to interact with my colleagues and in team meetings. That aspect I do miss, but we've been making due with chat programs like Teams and Slack to keep the communication up.
Brent Hametner (02:34):
Gotcha. Interesting. Cool. Cool. And so I wanted to first turn our attention to the experience of Dooap's customers now and see how that's changed. Kristin, I was hoping you could talk a little bit about what a typical AP staff work set up was pre-Covid and then share how that's changed in the past few weeks.
Kristin Ewart (02:57):
I would say that the biggest change has been client availability. Whether we're talking about AP folks, approvers, or the CFO, the availability is greater. They're available earlier in the day and later in the evening and are on their computer or at least on their phone all the time. So if you send an email, then you're going to get a response within the hour, whereas before people are traveling to and from work, they're running errands, they've got a client meeting down the street, they've got to pick up their child from daycare. And so you would send an email and you may not hear from them for two or three hours. So client availability I think is the biggest change that I've seen.
Brent Hametner (03:41):
Gotcha. And do you think it's helped with the relationship in terms of, for example, if you're on a, if you're able to get ahold of them and they are available, are they usually busy with work stuff err with home stuff? Have you, let's say if they have a family and some children do you get exposure to that, or is that something that...how does that really affect the relationship?
Kristin Ewart (04:10):
Well, I think we're all in this together, right? We're working from home because we have to. And I think that's a common link between all of us. And so the majority of the time when they are available, they won't hesitate to say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I just had to feed my child or let the dog out" and we all can relate because we're all going through the same thing. But at the end of the day they don't hesitate to say, "Hey, I'm available but I'll get back to you because I'm doing X, Y, and Z and it may not be work related."
Brent Hametner (04:41):
Would you say the communication now with the availability, is the preferred method still I guess via just a phone call or now with the increase in these zoom calls and video conferencing, are they open to video conferencing or what have you seen communication wise?
Kristin Ewart (05:01):
To be honest, I haven't done much video conferencing with my clients. It's all been via email. There is one client that I use a chat system with that's working very well. Constant communication between us is really, really helpful, especially since we're in the middle of a project and we've got deadlines. So it's really helped out on both sides. But in terms of video conferencing, although it's available and it's fantastic, we haven't really used it much because email has just been so effective for our relationship and the projects that we're working on.
Brent Hametner (05:36):
And Amanda, is email the main communication method that you've seen with your clients?
Amanda Strickland (05:43):
Sure. Overall I agree with Kristin. My projects actually we do use the phone a lot more. So they feel more comfortable just calling me on a whim if they have a question and I'm typically available. And so that's made it really easy. And like Kristin said, we're kind of all in this together and so it's been a big adjustment for everyone and it brings the conference calls to a more personal level. So the conversation will typically flow from talking about business related topics or questions straight into talking about new experiences like homeschooling children or something funny your pet did that day. And so it's developing better client relationships through those deeper conversations, and the calls are going a lot longer. Another thing we've noticed is that our customer project teams and even potential sales prospects are not traveling. And so in effect, they're actually having more time to dedicate to starting or dedicating their time to the project. So it's a really great time to develop that partnership.
Brent Hametner (06:47):
Sure, sure. And have you noticed at least I have with, it seems now that as a lot of folks are working from home, it also opens up the opportunity for like creative endeavors or thinking in new ways to change processes or do things in different ways. Have you seen or heard from clients that are doing this? For example, I know we all hear about on Instagram live or on Facebook live, some feeds of, concerts that are being played or somebody's working on, let's say knitting and doing it live so other people can see what they're doing it. Have you heard of any customer experiences or even prospect experience that seem to be picking that up?
Kristin Ewart (07:34):
Well, one of my projects we do that's the one that we use the chat program with and they have this really great office environment. It's geared towards videos and movies and like video games. And I do know that they, there's a group of folks on the team that get together and they play the same video game through this video conferencing. And so it's brought their team together or kept them together rather cause that's something that they would do in the office, but now they're doing it remotely. And so I thought that was really neat. People are definitely thinking outside the box and trying to stay in communication with everybody. Although technology nowadays, everybody's on their phone and communication is through technology. It's amazing how much people miss the face to face contact. So I really thought that was a great idea for that team to stay together.
Brent Hametner (08:35):
Oh, interesting. Yeah, I haven't heard of that before. That's, that's really insightful. And so I guess finally I did want to get to, we've talked about, I guess your personal experiences with the changes and then we've talked a little bit about your experiences with the clients. I'm curious to know now about the Dooap company culture in general as well. I guess we'll start with Kristin. What are some of the ways that your culture has shifted over this time period and what are some of the pros and cons of the change do you think?
Kristin Ewart (09:07):
Well Dooap has a very flexible work from home policy where as Amanda mentioned, she was primarily a work from home person simply because she lives so far from the office where I personally enjoyed going into the office at least three to four days a week. I don't live far from the office, so it was easy for me. But one thing that I do miss and I have mentioned before are the face to face meetings, although they've turned into video conferences, there's something about being in the same room with somebody, even though you can say the same thing through a video conference. It's just missing that in person contact. And I would say that I do look forward to the office reopening so that I can at least see all of the people that I work with in person face to face at least on a weekly basis.
Kristin Ewart (09:57):
We try and spice up our weekly calls with I think last week we did a Cribs version of our weekly call where everybody showed they had one minute to show off their house and you can bet that people were scrambling the night before to get it tidy though. And we have a recurring end of the week team meeting that is open to talk about anything, whether it's work related or not. We call it the Friday happy hour Covid style and where we all get together at 3:00 PM and we talk about the week and there's really no structure to the meeting. It's just everybody getting on the video conference and just kind of seeing each other and saying hi and kind of debriefing the week. So I don't really see any cons because our team is very close knit and we have very good communication regardless of where we're working from. So but there have been a lot of pros.
Brent Hametner (10:59):
Gotcha. Is that some of the same things that you're seeing Amanda as well?
Amanda Strickland (11:03):
Yeah, for sure. I've definitely enjoyed the aspect of the Friday happy hours. It's really cool to get together and talk to people about their general lives and experiences. But I would also add that being a primarily remote employee as we've discussed, having the rest of the team individually within a conference call, like a project related or a team related call helps with directing the conversation towards the meeting content itself. So having everybody engaged on screen will remove some of that side conversation that can result in missed information while not being physically in the room with the other attendees. So I feel like that's been a pro on my end, the remote most of the time.
Brent Hametner (11:51):
Gotcha. Yeah, that makes sense and I appreciate the information y'all, and you know, we're running out of time now and I just wanted to thank you all again for joining us. So this concludes episode two of the AP automazing podcast on adapting AP to remote conditions. If you'd like to learn more about Dooap visit www.doop.com. Thanks everyone!
*transcript has been edited to increase accessibility