Complex Media Scales Digital Operations with Quickbase
Complex Media is a fast-growing digital media company that has converted its influence in youth culture into a valuable network of digital platforms and partners. As it grew, the company struggled to track and manage complicated business processes across its sales, operations, and accounting teams. The solution was to build a highly customized system on Quickbase that keeps work flowing across 170 users from 14 different departments. The results are increased efficiency and improved cash flow.
- Multiple teams supporting complicated business processes
- No single source of truth across sales, marketing, advertising operations, and finance
- Lack of collaboration between teams
- Too much manual data entry into multiple systems
- Quickbase as a platform for integrated CRM, document management, ad operations, and invoicing
- Customized workflows by role
- Automated report generation
- Executive dashboards
- 50% reduction in data entry
- 6-day improvement in invoicing process
- Real-time insights into all client and project data
- Better resource management
- Improved collaboration across multiple teams
Fast growth and the need to break down siloes
Founded in 2002, Complex Media isn't a magazine or website — it's a digital community of content curators and creators committed to making American culture pop. Its a multi-million dollar business that is a trusted source for millennials by creating and sharing content that brings the best of American culture to life.
One of the company's driving forces is selling integrated advertising and marketing campaigns to Fortune 500 brands like Nike, Best Buy and Pepsi. Delivering on these campaigns requires tight coordination between the sales, marketing, advertising operations, and finance departments.
As Complex Media grew from 40 to 350 employees, sharing information across teams became much more difficult. The teams relied primarily on email, Microsoft Excel, and Google Docs, which made it difficult to share data across teams. The result was a process that was too inefficient to support the company's growth trajectory.
For example, the company's accounting department bills clients based on milestones delivered during a given month. Getting accurate data on exactly how much of each campaign was delivered at any point in time was tedious and time-consuming, which in turn delayed billing and had a negative impact on cash flow. Similarly, generating a quarterly financial report took an average of four days, meaning the information in the report was outdated the minute it was produced.
"We have a lot of complicated processes that interact with each other and every department impacts revenue, so we needed real-time, day-to-day insight into the entire workflow from beginning to end," says Leanne Snoeck, Director of Operating Systems at Complex Media.
Getting work to flow
Snoeck was hired by Jeetu Chawla, the company's VP of advertising operations, to help implement a solution. The team knew that employees were spending too much time on manual tasks and searched for a system that would help automate workflows across multiple teams.
Complex Media chose Quickbase because it offered the right mix of versatility and scalability. Within a few months, the team had built a highly-customized Quickbase application that would centralize client and campaign information, while offering role-specific workflows to employees in several different groups.
The application Snoeck and the team built on Quickbase supports several processes, from central customer relationship management (CRM) to project management, document management, budgeting and invoicing. All day-to-day and administrative campaign approvals are handled within the app, with permissions based on roles and responsibilities to control access to the data.
Automated emails, triggers and alerts keep each group up to date and on schedule with their campaign elements. And reports are generated automatically to analyze revenue status, sales progress and show campaign delays that put revenue at risk. Formulas built within the app help to keep shared data accurate between all groups.
Complex Media has also integrated Quickbase with other applications, including QuickBooks, through the Workato platform. The QuickBooks integration enables the finance team to automatically generate invoices based on real-time campaign milestone information.
"What's great about Quickbase is that we can manage many diverse workloads within this one app instead of having separate apps or software for each group," says Snoeck.
The advantage of advanced operations
In just one year, Complex Media has streamlined its processes and gained a real operational advantage. With all key data stored and tracked in a central platform, employees from any department can get real-time insights that drive better decisions. In fact, nearly half of Complex Media's employees manage their workflow through Quickbase, which has led to several benefits, including:
- a 50% reduction in manual data entry, empowering employees to spend more time serving clients
- a 6-day reduction in the time required to generate invoices, speeding up the cash flow cycle
- better resource utilization as management can more accurately staff projects based on available data
- automated generation of quarterly financial reports with accurate data, giving company leaders the insights they need to make better decisions
- improved insights into the sales process, enabling sales leaders to identify and mitigate at-risk opportunities
Overall, the company has been able to drive effective digital operations by not only centralizing key information, but empowering the business to act on that information. More importantly, as needs change, Complex Media can now change its operations just as quickly — giving it a sustainable advantage in a competitive space.
"We're a growing company that needs to be flexible and alter processes as things change. Quickbase is the perfect tool for us to do just that," says Snoeck.