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Customer Story

How JVCA used technology to successfully move to hybrid working

‘If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ was a phrase that rang true for JVCA’s collaboration methods pre-pandemic, as they worked out of their office in Cranfield, Bedfordshire. Their collaboration was centered around whiteboards, colored magnets, and the now old-fashioned colleague desk visit.

But then 2020 happened, and everything needed to change.

That’s why Coral Tolley-Fletcher, Partner and Practice Manager at JVCA, sought a cloud-based collaborative practice management solution, and discovered Karbon. 

From writing on the wall to writing in the cloud

When the team shared an office before COVID, they organized their work offline and in-person, using WhatsApp for general communication firm-wide. Everything worked as it needed to. Finding practice management software, let alone the best practice management software, wasn't top-of-mind.

“It was on our list but it wasn't a high priority. At the time we had a set of processes that were working. We were managing,” explains Coral.

But when the world was sent into lockdown, that old system of whiteboards and spreadsheets had Coral’s dining room table drowning in Excel print-outs, while staff were trying to stay on-task by taking photos of the old whiteboards they used. 

JVCA tried to use WhatsApp in a more holistic way, but it was clear they needed to find a different solution.

Arriving at Karbon

Having used IRIS and XPM in the past, Coral looked at bringing them back into the fold. But now, for various reasons, they weren’t meeting JVCA’s needs. 

Coral recounts her second demo of Karbon with her business partner, Jonathan Vowles, “At the end of the demo, we were asked if there were any questions, to which I remember Jonathan asking, ‘yes, where do we sign up?’”

Getting team buy-in

JVCA kicked off with a methodical transition to Karbon.

With the help of the Karbon Customer Success team and by holding regular in-house meetings, Coral found the slower transition suited her team. “The main obstacle is buy-in from the team, but by doing it slowly, having a slow integration, we could achieve that buy-in.”

While it took time for all the features to be fully adopted, by constantly checking in with the team, Coral was able to identify who needed the most help, and also who was best poised to give it.

Migrating piece by piece

JVCA’s methodical transition meant building out certain aspects of their work with Karbon, one at a time.

“After [tax returns] we released accounts, then we looked at bookkeeping, then payroll, and once all those jobs were done—which we staggered—that took us through until April.” Coral recalls. “Then we closed the old system down and moved the timesheets over. Everybody, from the first of April, was doing everything in Karbon.”

Coral has also become an active member of Karbon Community, where she has found useful tips for making the most of Karbon from other customers who have the same needs she does. 

Being part of Karbon Community means you get good advice from other people, and some of the support is really outside the box thinking.

Coral Tolley-Fletcher, JVCA

Reaping the rewards

Real-time collaboration

When she began with Karbon, Coral was taken by the real-time collaboration for particular tasks, as they replaced the function of several apps at once. “The email collaboration and the internal chats you can have on a particular job—and have it all be in that one place—was something really exciting,” she says.

Using Time & Budgets in Karbon to remain profitable

Once JVCA started using Time & Budgets in Karbon, they were able to identify a client they were making a loss on. 

“When we swapped over to use timesheets in Karbon, we were working for a client and the slider on the top of the work item had gone red, and I said, ‘well that’s gone red because we’ve gone over budget.’”

They kept an eye on the situation. “After three months of monitoring, the time was still the same. So we approached the client and said ‘we are spending more time than your fees are covering’, and they agreed to increase their fee.” 

We were at the stage where even if we lost that client, we knew we would be better off because we were making a loss. And it was highlighted to us sooner in the cycle. Before Karbon, I wouldn't have known that until nine months after the year’s end, and we would have then actually written it off.

Coral Tolley-Fletcher, JVCA

More free time for the important things

Redirecting time savings to staff development

Before Karbon, one of JVCA’s junior employees was spending a significant portion of his time completing administrative work. Now with automated Client Requests and other automation features within Karbon, he is developing his career with more advanced accounting work.

“It’s enabled us to redistribute things within the team and give people things that they’re more interested in,” says Coral.

Getting the day-to-day done to focus on strategy

Before introducing cloud-based workflow management, Coral’s daily tasks stretched well outside work hours, often intruding on family and personal time. Now she can complete her daily tasks within her standard work day. “I now do everything, my client work, my practice management work, mainly within office hours.”

She is finding the extra time useful in planning for the future. Looking at where JVCA should be, weeks, months and years down the track: “Now I’ve got that time to focus on where we want to go in the future.”

Hybrid working for the future

Now that Coral and her team are using Karbon, they’ve decided to remain in a hybrid working structure. The flexibility is appreciated by the team, and because everything is in Karbon, there’s no ambiguity around what people should be working on.

And using Karbon is particularly useful in keeping the outsourced portion of their team aligned with the rest of the business.

We wanted people to have that freedom and flexibility, and for it to be right for the business. Karbon has enabled us to do that because we can collaborate and work together.

Coral Tolley-Fletcher, JVCA

Key results

  • Enabled hybrid work setup without compromised efficiency

  • Automation allowed staff to upskill and provide more value 

  • Collaborate remotely to consistently deliver work ahead of schedule

  • Remote team alignment