Interview with Brandi Johnson from CloudCoach (Productivity Fox – Productivity Suite)


Danny:                  Hello and welcome to the AppExchange podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan and today I have Brandi Johnson from Cloud Coach and her product’s name is Productivity Fox. Welcome Brandi.

Brandi:                  Thank you Danny. Happy to join you.

Danny:                  Awesome. I look forward to learning more about Productivity Fox. So, as we had a little bit of a conversation about what Productivity Fox is, do you mind just sort of maybe hitting it at a high level and just introducing what the product is?

Brandi:                  Sure. So Productivity Fox is really an all-in-one productivity solution that helps users manage their daily work. We really focus on the meeting management aspect because it’s such a painful part of business for so many people, but we also include things like Kanban style productivity boards …

Danny:                  Nice.

Brandi:                  … Notepads and action items as well, so really all of the work you do in your business not matter what business that you’re in, really helping to streamline that and make it easy to keep track of everything.

Danny:                  That’s great. So this really is a productivity tool for folks.

Brandi:                  Yeah. We really strive to bring together, like I said, all of those components of your daily work, the meetings that you’re having as part of your sales cycle, the work that your IT team is doing on implementation … Really, any department can benefit from something like Productivity Fox because it’s the things that we all do everyday.

Danny:                  That’s great. Tell me a little bit more about the back story on the product. Was this something that you created for your own use at first or where did the product come from?

Brandi:                  Yeah. Really I identified kind of a need in the market from a couple of different angles. The first one is really, of course, meetings where we were sitting in all these meetings and we realized, there’s a lot of tools on the market that help you schedule meetings, but we actually did a calculation and only about 1 percent of meeting time is actually spent in scheduling your meeting. The other 99 percent of time is doing things like setting your meeting objective, your agenda items, keeping track of minutes, action items that come out of the meeting. How do you follow up on those action items, those types of things. So we realized, the meetings that we’re having today are the same as meeting we were having 60 years ago. Not much has really evolved and changed. So that was really kind of one of the foundations.

The other thing that we thought is that a lot of members of our team and other teams were using a lot of disparate systems to manage their daily work and things that weren’t necessarily secure. There’s consumer based note taking applications and productivity applications that people were using to manage their daily work, but then you’re seeing in the news that they’re getting hacked, that there are securities being compromised, so really we saw an opportunity to be able to bring those tools into the same application so that you could also rely on that great Salesforce security for those business items because certainly if you were planning a new innovation to your product, you don’t want that getting out in the market because this consumer based application you were using got hacked.

Danny:                  Yep, yep. That’s great. So it sounds like … Is it a native Salesforce application?

Brandi:                  It is a native Salesforce application so everything is running on the Salesforce interface. One thing that’s very different, and I know you can see it through some of the screenshots that on the website and then when we look at the demo a little bit later, we did do a very different user interface however. We started out building in a traditional Salesforce UI, but really found that with the number of objects and the complexity of the data that we were working with, It just wasn’t going to be very user friendly and it wasn’t going to be very fast. So we spent about 2 years designing the user interface that you see. It’s not a traditional Salesforce UI, but it is still a native application.

Danny:                  It looks great. It looks really slick. I’m looking at the different components here, you have meetings, projects, boards, notes, to-dos, so these are the primary things that you’re managing with Productivity Fox.

Brandi:                  Right.

Danny:                  Excellent, excellent. So what has been … Any stories you might have about how people are using your app or any surprising usages with how people are using Productivity Fox?

Brandi:                  You know, I think really one of the most interesting use cases that we have found, and we started doing it internally as well as I know a couple of our clients have done it, is we actually use the meetings for a lot of our employee onboarding and interviewing process. So with the meetings, there’s actually a clone meeting function and so you can very easily make sure that you’re going through all of your … The same pre-screening questions as part of the hiring process and then you can go back and you can send those notes to a hiring manager and that type of thing.

So that’s a little bit of an unusual use case that we thought was really interesting. Then we also use the productivity boards for new employee onboarding, so it’s kind of an un-thought of way to use some of the productivity solutions. The other things that’s really neat is through some of the process automation, you can actually build sales best practices into your sales flow in Salesforce, so when a meeting reaches a specific stage, you can actually use templates and have the system create a meeting with the agenda items that you want your sales rep to talk about. So it really takes a lot of that guessing game out and trying to make sure that they’re asking the right questions at the right time in the sales cycle. It just makes it really seamless and easy so that people are focusing on what they need to be doing at work, not trying to remember to button up all the details.

Danny:                  Yeah, I’m thinking everybody could use this. I don’t know if there’s an organization out there that couldn’t benefit from more structured meetings, better follow up, a lot of these things that you’re addressing with your product.

Brandi:                  Well that’s kind of what we saw too. Another interesting thing about the meetings is because we are based on the Salesforce platform, you actually can do a lot of reporting on meetings too …

Danny:                  Nice.

Brandi:                  … So you can set up the average cost of an employee, you can monitor the time of each meeting, and then we’ve got a pre-built dash board that will allow you to really look at how much are meetings costing your organization. Again, that’s just one of those over … Kind of glossed over items that people don’t really think about. “Wow, I have 5 people sitting in a room for 90 minutes.” It’s not just the opportunity cost of what they could have been doing, there’s actually salary and overhead expenses going into that time, so if those meetings aren’t productive, you don’t come out with a clear action item, people aren’t clear on the decisions that need to be made in those meetings, you’re actually wasting a lot of time. I actually found a statistic that said on average, American businesses waste 32 billion dollars a year in unproductive meetings.

Danny:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative). I can see that.

Brandi:                  So we’re really hoping that with something like this, people can get part of that back.

Danny:                  Excellent. Now are the meetings themselves, are they … Maybe you’ll go through this in the demo, but are they associated to opportunities or accounts inside of Salesforce?

Brandi:                  Yeah, so out of the box, they come associated with opportunities and accounts …

Danny:                  Okay.

Brandi:                  … But we also left a little bit of room for people to be able to customize it for their own business cases, so if you need to … If you, for example, are a Remedy Force user, and you’re using Productivity Fox, you can connect a meeting to an incident. You can kind of build some of your own connections there as well.

Danny:                  Awesome. Well, you’ve peaked my interest. I would love to see a demo here so I’m gonna switch over and give you control here.

Brandi:                  Sure. So getting into Productivity Fox, we’re going to go into it just right here from the application menu. So you’ll see no extra log ins or anything like that. The first screen this is bringing up is really the My Schedule page. This works as a real dashboard for running your week in Salesforce. The items in orange are Productivity Fox meetings. Items in green are action items, so those may be Productivity Fox stand alone action items, action items from meetings, or from productivity boards within Productivity Fox. The blue items are your Salesforce tasks and events, because we know not everything’s going to be in Productivity Fox so we bring those in as well. Of course, we also have these dark purple items which are related to Cloud Coach products and tasks, so if someone is Cloud Coach subscriber, they can also see all of those tasks directly from these as well.

Kind of from here, if I click into any one of these action items, we’ll just start here, you can see you’ve got your name, your due date, description, who it’s related to, and you can also associate individual action items back to your Salesforce objects as well. If I’ve distributed my benefit packages to team members, it’s that easy to mark that as completed. So one screen, really quick, fast, easy to use interface.

I can also change the due dates of things. So if I’m not going to get to my blog post tomorrow, I’m not going to be able to work on it until Friday, I can just drag and drop it over and it updates that due date. So again, this is a really nice, easy way to be able to see everything that I need to be working on this week. I can also filter things down, so if I only want to see my Salesforce tasks and events it’s easy to be able to do that. We also have a quick search feature up here.

Danny:                  So is this for primarily managing for internal meetings or are people using it for, for instance, for a professional services organization, would they use something like this for managing their projects?

Brandi:                  Yeah, absolutely. A professional services organization can use this and Productivity Fox also comes with Cloud Coach, so if you’re a Cloud Coach subscriber, you also get Productivity Fox and so you can connect those meetings to your PSA organization there as well. But certainly you can add attendees to your meetings so we’ll go ahead and click into a meeting here.

Danny:                  For folks who don’t know, can you tell me just a little bit more, maybe at a real high level about what Cloud Coach is?

Brandi:                  Sure. Cloud Coach is an enterprise project management and professional services automation platform so it really focuses on the more extensive and detailed project management with resourcing capabilities and things like that.

Danny:                  So really it’s a PSA? It’s really for professional services organizations to use.

Brandi:                  Yeah, it really is a PSA. We also do portfolio project management as well, so we’ve got 3 tiers on Cloud Couch, depending on the level of complexity and needs of the organization.

Danny:                  Awesome. Thank you for that overview.

Brandi:                  Yeah, no problem. This is a meeting that hasn’t happened yet. I just went ahead and clicked into it. You can see over here I’ve got different attendees in my meetings and I can add additional attendees and I can add attendees that are just contacts in my organization. Any of my Salesforce contacts I can add to this as well. Then through this interface I can add my minutes. We’re making great progress. Save my minutes. The minutes will show up in real time for anybody who’s viewing the meeting. Now in order to view this meeting in this interface, you do have to be a Productivity Fox user, but we make it very easy for people to be able to share the meeting minutes after the meeting. So this, if you are using it in a professional services organization, any type of really service based opportunity where you’re interfacing with your clients, this is going to make you look great to your clients, because you can go in, you can send your meeting minutes, and send them directly from here. I unfortunately don’t have a template set up in this one, but you can quickly and easily send those meeting minutes directly to them and they come out with a great professional lay out. You can see all your minutes, all your action items, directly from here very quickly and easily.

I won’t go through adding everything into this specific meeting, but you can see it’s very quick and easy to be able to add those types of things. If I go back to my schedule and perhaps look at one of the past meetings, this one has a couple of action items in it, we see where those are, and I can go back and look at all my past meetings and upcoming meetings. This is one of the things that we use a lot and are really excited about with Productivity Fox, is following up on meeting action items. How many times have we been in a meeting where we’re like, “Oh, yeah, Jack was supposed to take care of that. I wonder if he did it?” And then we have to sit down, we have to write an email to Jack or hunt him down at his desk. Here, if I need to follow up on an outstanding action item from my project requirements meeting, looks like Jody and John both have overdue items. That’s indicated by them being in red. I can select all and request a status update and Productivity Fox will automatically send them a notification asking them for a status update.

Danny:                  Nice.

Brandi:                  I can follow up on all my meetings in 3 minutes that might’ve taken me 30 minutes or an hour before.

Danny:                  That’s nice.

Brandi:                  It’s really quick and easy to do that. Kind of from the meetings, I think probably the next most interesting area for a lot of people is the productivity boards. Productivity boards are just a Kanban style project management system so they’re really designed for a simpler project where you don’t have a lot of things like redundancies and needing to manage your cost and things like that, but really just collaborative things that we’re working on with a customer. In this example we’re looking at a CRM installation for Serenity.  With our board, I just go over here to edit board, you actually set up all of your columns the way that you want your columns to be set up and the columns are typically status based. Then you also have your colored tag labels. That just helps you be able to organize your board and help people understand what the tasks are related to.

You can also relate your board to your Salesforce opportunities accounts. They also come connected to your campaigns, just because there’s a lot of opportunity for marketing teams to be able to use the software.

Danny:                  You guys have done a fantastic job with the UX … I can tell you really put some thought in the design of this so congratulations.

Brandi:                  Thanks. I’ll make sure … Thank you. I’ll make sure I let the developers know. It’s definitely kind of their pride and joy.

Danny:                  Good job.

Brandi:                  Thank you. So a couple of things on this, again, this has the same drag and drop functionality so if on the sales funnel this is on hold for an internal reason, in this instance I’ve got on hold internal, and I’m just going to collapse this so you can see all my columns. I’ve got on hold internal and on hold customer. So that just … Again, it’s just up to me how I want to manage these tools.

Again, really easy to move those cards between columns and each card is essentially a task. So I’ve got my description, or I can use a checklist if it’s a multi-part piece, I can put my color code on it. This one’s related to data migration. We’ve also integrated chatter onto the card so it you need to have a conversation about a task, you can have that all right there on the card. It will show up in your chatter feed so you’re not losing those conversations in the hallway or losing them in email.

Danny:                  Great.

Brandi:                  Than, of course, what’s a project without a little bit of collaboration, so you have board members. Everyone who’s a board member gets to see this board. They only get to see boards that they’re a member of so if you have one team who’s working on a super secret project, nobody else is going to know about it except for those board members.

Danny:                  Gotcha.

Brandi:                  Then it’s easy to also assign tasks to those people. Just dragging and dropping all day long.

Danny:                  Nice.

Brandi:                  So it makes it really convenient. And of course projects have meetings so you kind of see related meetings right here in the side panel and then you can click through into the full meeting from here as well. So I can do a quick view of my meetings minutes and action items or I can go back to my full meeting.

Danny:                  This reminds me, I think I read it on your website, tying all that stuff together is like having every note and trello in a sonnet sort of all in one place.

Brandi:                  Right.

Danny:                  Yep. It’s nice.

Brandi:                  Yeah, and it’s really nice because it is on the Salesforce platform so you do get that higher level of security …

Danny:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brandi:                  … That you know that your data is safe and that’s so important in today’s business organizations where people are always looking for the competitive advantage. It is a competitive advantage to be able to keep what you’re working on under wraps.

Danny:                  Now will one of these-

Brandi:                  So kind of the last place-

Danny:                  I’m sorry.

Brandi:                  Go ahead.

Danny:                  Is the board itself … How are these associated to like an account or an opportunity?

Brandi:                  Yeah, so actually the Serenity board is a great example. When I go into edit board this is actually my opportunity, is the CRM installation.

Danny:                  Gotcha, gotcha. There it is.

Brandi:                  Yep. If I went back to the CRM installation in the Salesforce interface which I can do from here. You would actually be able to see that … Navigate directly to that from that page.

Danny:                  Your UX reminds me of some of the Lightning Experience that Salesforce just released.

Brandi:                  Yeah, we started working on this before we knew about that.

Danny:                  Isn’t it always that way though? Oh my goodness.

Brandi:                  It is.

Danny:                  It looks like you should be able to tie the two together. They look very similar so it’s a similar type of experience.

Brandi:                  Yeah, I think it’ll be a really nice … As Salesforce migrates more to the Lightning Experience, I think it will make the interfacing between Salesforce and Productivity Fox that much easier for people.

Danny:                  Yep.

Brandi:                  This is just actually going back to an opportunity page where I can actually see my board and I have a couple of meetings that I had related to this opportunity so these are just the standalone meetings and then I can click through directly.

Danny:                  That’s great. I think you were going to show me something about notes.

Brandi:                  Yeah, so just the last thing for us to look at today is really the notepads so this is where keeping all of your ideas, brainstorming, that type of information becomes really important. Notepads are organized into groups. It’s just important to kind of think about it, and I like to think about it how I used to organize my binders when I was in school, where I would have a class and I had my notes or that class and it was within that section of that notebook or that binder. So you have your different note, your different groupings that contain individual notepads. If I’m in my design inspiration folder, I’ve got visual design inspiration is my set of notes and then here I also have that same color coding capability so that I can organize all of my notes right in here.

Danny:                  Very nice.

Brandi:                  This is really interesting. A feature I like, if you put in a YouTube link or an image link into your note, even in the middle of your note like I have here …

Danny:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brandi:                  … That image or that video will show up in your note, so you don’t have to click back through to it to be able to remember what it was.

Danny:                  Very nice.

Brandi:                  So from here if I click into this note, it’s easy to be able to edit that note and here I see what that URL was, and then when I’m ready to take action on a note, I can convert my note to an action item. I’ve been thinking about this specific use of team colors and I want to see someone else on my team use that. Create an info graphic with our colors like this. I set my due date, and I’m going to assign this to Vanessa, and now I’ve created an action item for Vanessa related to this note. She gets all of the contents of that note as part of the description of the action item. It’s just an easy way to be able to do that. The notes are all private as well so there’s no sharing of notes. What you’re putting in here is unique to yourself so if you want to share it with someone you do have to currently pull those notes out. We’re working on some additional functionality around collaboration in note taking, but this is a great way of, when you’re planning for client meetings or something like that, to get all your ducks in a row.

Danny:                  That’s great. Great demo. If somebody wanted to get started with Productivity Fox, any sort of tips on … Is it just go to the app exchange, download it, and trial it from there or any tips you might have for someone wanting to learn more?

Brandi:                  Yeah, so certainly we do have a free trial in the app exchange so that you can use that to get started and we do have some pretty interesting getting started packages available right now as well for people who want to get started with Productivity Fox before 2016 so that they can really head into the new year with some exciting new productivity ways to look at their day and manage their day more effectively.

Danny:                  That’s awesome. So for folks who want to see this great demo, you can go to We’ll have a video up there of the demo. Brandi, thank you so much for doing this today.

Brandi:                  Sure. Thanks so much for having me Danny.

Danny:                  You betcha. Thank you everybody for listening. Have a wonderful day. Bye-bye.

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