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Message started by wvaughan on Nov 21st, 2013, 12:16am

Title: using Tinderbox for tracking clients
Post by wvaughan on Nov 21st, 2013, 12:16am

I've been wanting to write a short note about one of my main Tinderbox applications for a while (I've gotten a lot out out of the forums and want to give back a little).  Here goes:

I do economic development for a local government, and one of my primary programs consists of running a network of 25 or so resource providers (i.e., consultants) who I connect with various clients.  The short version is: a) meet with a client and figure out where they need a hand, and b) start matching them up with consultants who can help them out with their challenges.  I'm the matchmaker.

I manage all of it in Tinderbox.  Each client starts as a note. I dump the highlights from the initial interview into the main note; from there, I use the main client note as a container into which i keep track of all of the consultants I connect them with.  I also have regular follow ups with each client (1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months) that I put into the main client container as tasks.  

I have two main agents to track things:  I have an agent that tracks all of the follow ups with each client that are coming due; a second agent collects all of the connections I've initiated between client and consultant but which haven't yet.  

Tinderbox has been wonderful for this.  In 2013, I've worked with 46 individual clients.  Our consultants have made 162 individual visits to various clients over the course of the last 11 months, and I track the 1/3/6/12 month follow ups for each of those 46 clients.  

Its a decent amount of info to keep track of and there are a lot of moving parts  (the numbers cited above are from 2013; there's similar numbers for 2012, many of which still show up in 2013 because of the 6 and/or 12 month follow up contacts I make with them and because of subsequent consultant visits that often come out of those follow ups).  Because I work at local government my options for downloading software specifically built for this onto my government computer is limited; luckily, I just build a Tinderbox to do it myself and keep it on my personal laptop (which I always keep with me).  I used to use a physical tickler file but Tinderbox makes it all so much more visible.

i also just created a map of all 162 consultant visits we made this year, grouping each individual consultant visit into various categories (i.e., 44 of the visits were in the "business planning/strategy" category; 14 were in the HR category; 16 were in the "sales/marketing" category, etc.)  I'm putting that map up on the projector screen tomorrow during my steering committee meeting.  Its a great visual.

Again, I couldn't do it without this wonderful program.  Thanks!


Title: Re: using Tinderbox for tracking clients
Post by Mark Anderson on Nov 21st, 2013, 4:46am

Thanks for sharing that.  I'm sure Eastgate would be interested to see your map image - it's really useful to see how maps are used and which features.  As it would be an image any sensitive text could be blurred if sensitive (e.g organisation's or consultants' names).

Title: Re: using Tinderbox for tracking clients
Post by Mark Bernstein on Nov 21st, 2013, 10:33am

Fascinating!

Title: Re: using Tinderbox for tracking clients
Post by wvaughan on Nov 22nd, 2013, 12:01am

Mark A: I'll definitely try and figure out how to upload an image.  Its not really a "pretty" map (I'm not great at making pretty maps) but its a useful one.

One other thing I was thinking about:  there are other programs out there that allow you to do this kind of thing (I used Omnifocus for a long time to track all sorts of various tasks and it worked great); where Tinderbox excels, in my mind, is that it not only lets me do this, but it also lets lets me keep all sorts of info in it as well (the correspondence I have with both clients and consultants, as one easy example).  It really is a unique piece of software that brings together all sorts of useful features.

Plus - and this is important - I built it.  The only thing I know about computers is what I picked up by buying one and using it every day - there isn't a minute of formal training in there at all.  So it matters to me that I was able to to spend a few hours sweating out how to make an agent tell me what tasks I've got coming due in the next week.  It matters that I figured out the best way to display the info so that I get something out of it. It even matters that I changed the background color to be something I like.  It matters that this particularly Tinderbox file fits me like my old pair of scruffy brown shoes because I use it every day and I kept massaging it so that it does what I need.  I've bought, used, and appreciated plenty of other programs that do all kinds of great things - but  this one does what I want and need it to do because I figured out how to make it do those things. There's something to be said for that.

Title: Re: using Tinderbox for tracking clients
Post by Mark Anderson on Nov 22nd, 2013, 4:17am

I really liked your last post and I hope it inspires some more users to dig a little deeper. Funnily enough, I think most people's map aren't 'pretty'. Indeed, at meet-ups like Tinderbox weekend's, most people show stuff by starting with apologising for the look of their map.  But, that's the point - it's their map - just as you go on to point out how personal your Tinderbox project is. I think this is especially true with spatial hypertexts like TB maps. Unless you need additional clarity to share with other people, the map simply needs to laid out to capture your thought process.

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