Genesis - A Project Finally Realised

by Adam Yeadon

18 years later, we've finally produced our vision of an integrated agency platform. It was worth the wait.


It's 2001 and I'm creative director of a growing digital marketing agency in the UK who are starting to embrace the power of online alongside traditional marketing channels.


We're busy designing direct mailers using Quark Express to drive recipients online to experience Flash-based animations in dedicated marketing websites for the likes of 3M and FedEx. Facebook is yet to launch, Amazon has just started to add CDs to their online book store and Apple has just launched the iPod. The iPhone is still 6 years away and Google is a new search engine competing for our attention alonside Lycos and Ask Jeeves, amongst others.


Behind our microsites we are setting up databases to capture visitor information to feed back to the client post-campaign. We're using technologies like NetCloak and Filemaker to drive the microsites. PHP and MySQL are starting to gain traction as the next-generation technologies to use in online development.


As an agency, we are handling client data, customer data, technical information and links to numerous online tools.


My idea, is to collate all of this data in a single platform so we, as an agency, can store and retrieve this information more efficiently and can also make it available to our customers so they can access it online at any time.


The problem is that the current web technologies do not offer enough functionality to fully realise my vision. Internet browsers are yet to settle on standards for HTML or Javascript so adding any functionality that relies on these is fraught with problems arising from incompatabilities between browsers and operating systems. The web servers are running early versions of Apache, PHP and MySQL and storage in terms of hard disk and RAM is costly and limited. Cloud-based services are still theoretical so everything needs to be coded and run within our hosting environment.


I know what I want to achieve with an integrated agency platform, but technology isn't yet ready to allow me to fully realise my ideas.


18 years later...

Scroll forward 18 years. It's early 2019 and I'm now starting my 10th year as Managing Director at Ambrose Fox. We're developing online solutions for clients using techologies we couldn't even dream of back in 2001.


My vision and appetite for an integrated solution for Ambrose Fox remains the same but we are fully engaged in building and supporting our client solutions with precious little time to devote to our own platform.


Despite developing an online management platform for Ambrose Fox in 2012 which helps us manage our clients, contact and jobs, there's still a need to manage the development process via separate project management tools and contain and corral our prodigious amounts of documentation in other platforms.


Through close collaboration with our clients we have been introduced to tools such as Basecamp, Asana, Trello and Jira for project management as well as Google Drive, DropBox, OneDrive and Egnyte for file and information sharing.


As the complexity and number of client solutions we develop and maintain increases, our need to manage a wide range of development projects across a team of developers meant we've migrated our project/task management into Atlassian's Jira which gives us the micro and macro management tools we need to control all of our projects.


But there is a problem. Whist we're managing our clients, jobs and knowledgebase in our platform, our project management in Jira and our documentation in Google Drive, none of these platforms fully communicate with each other so maintaining control over everything is challenging and time-consuming. Couple that with the lack of automated scheduling or capacity reporting and my thoughts begin to wander back to 2001 and my vision of a single integrated agency platform.


We have the technology

Over the years of developing client solutions at Ambrose Fox we have developed our own bespoke software framework which serves as the base for all new client solutions. In addition to this, asynchronous browser communications via JavaScript, user interface frameworks and cloud-based services grow apace opening up new possibilites all of the time.


It was time to make a decision. We have the technology to build exactly what we need and finally realise my vision. Our existing combination of platforms is holding us back so we need to develop something new. Project Genesis is born.


A vision realised

It's now October 2019 and Ambrose Fox is running exclusively within Genesis, our new agency management platform developed in-house at Ambrose Fox.


We've built Genesis from the ground up, based on our experiences of using other platforms, to be task-centric and dedicated to helping us all focus on what we do best, developing solutions for our clients.


We no longer use Jira for project management and are migrating our Google Docs into Genesis as and when they are needed. We've migrated all of our clients, contacts, jobs, projects, tasks and knowledgebase articles into Genesis.


Genesis tracks all of our projects and tasks, automatically prioritises them and allows us to focus on executing each task whilst having instant access to related information such as client details, database schemas, technical documentation and links to client services.


Here are some key Genesis features:


  1. The dashboard shows everyone what they and everyone else is working on and what their priorities are.
  2. Time spent on tasks is tracked and reported on.
  3. Tasks can be set with both deadlines and reminders to help keep projects flowing.
  4. Future capacity is reported on so we can more accurately schedule projects and manage deadlines.
  5. Blog articles are authored and managed.
  6. Our monthly e-newsletter is assembled and broadcast.
  7. Our knowledgebase documents are easily authored and sharable with clients.
  8. Both tasks and documents have infinite parent/child relationships meaning the most complex projects or documentation can easily be managed.
  9. We communicate internally via commenting on both tasks and documents and individuals can choose to follow any task or document keeping us all in the loop on the status of work in progress as well as updates on delivery to customers of new solutions or features.
  10. Search allows us to instantly locate projects, tasks, documents, clients, contacts and useful links.


We finally have an integrated platform that manages all of our information and projects in an easy-to-use online solution.


But we're not done yet

Genesis has already been transformational for Ambrose Fox but we want to take it further.


Being a web-based platform, it can be accessed by anyone. We want to empower our clients by allowing them to log in to Genesis. There they can access their own documentation as well as view the real-time status of projects we are actively working on, comment on tasks if needed and submit new requests.


We've been fortunate to design and support platforms for our clients that have helped transform their businesses. We've now done the same for Ambrose Fox.


I thank the team here at Ambrose Fox for helping realise our vision.

More articles


 

Streamlining Clinical Waste Disposal

Co-ordinating a fleet of drivers and managing the safe disposal of clinical waste is a logistical challenge. Clinical Waste Solutions have chosen Ambrose Fox to develop a tailor-made business management solution to streamline operations.

 

Selling More with Automated Stock Sales

So you have over 9,000 stock items and want to put some of them on sale on your website. Here's how Ambrose Fox helped English Woodlands Timber to automate their stock sale process.

 

Tap, Sign, Done. Speeding-up Customer Interactions

This is a story about two different clients making use of tablet technology to speed up customer interactions (as well as back office processes).