Case Study

Find out how Vaco Technology is scaling its business more effectively by replacing old-style whiteboards with LeanKit, achieving a whopping ROI of 13,597% in the first year alone.

Customer Profile

Vaco partners with clients to complete critical projects and find exceptional talent in the fields of finance, accounting, technology, healthcare, risk solutions and administration.

Vaco was founded in 2002 in Nashville, Tennessee, and has 29 locally owned offices across the country.

Vaco works closely with clients to match professionals on a contract, contract-to-hire or permanent basis.

In 2013, Vaco was awarded Inc 5000’s “Fastest Growing Companies in America” award for the 7th consecutive year.

We sat down with Alex Naddell, Partner of Vaco Technology, to learn how his team has transformed its approach to workflow management since using LeanKit.

Tell us about your team.

My team is part of Vaco Technology - so we specialize in staffing IT professionals ranging from help desk to bleeding edge developers to visionary CIOs. There are nine of us on the team.

How were you managing your work before you started using LeanKit?

In our industry, tracking work on physical whiteboards is the norm; it’s a simple way of providing visibility into what everyone’s working on. Prior to LeanKit we had seven whiteboards on the wall, one for each step of our process. For example, we had one board for jobs we were trying to fill, one for candidates we were trying to place, one for candidates in the process of interviewing and so on.

In addition, we have a customer relationship management (CRM) system where we create all of our company records, candidate records, job seeker records, etc. So in the past, every time we had a new position to fill, we’d create a new job order record in the system and then add the information to the whiteboard.

How was that approach working for you?

It was extremely frustrating. Imagine every time you have a substantive phone conversation, you have to leave your desk and write the updates on a whiteboard. Then you have to enter the same information into the CRM system. That’s how our team worked. We spent a lot of time updating the boards throughout the day. We also had team meetings every morning and afternoon to figure out the status of our active business.

Not only was this approach an inefficient use of our time, it was also impossible to stay up-to-date unless you were physically in the office. If you left the office to go to a customer meeting or to work from home, we had to snap a photo or write down what was on the board to be able to refer to the information.

It sounds like there were quite a few challenges?

There were. Most of the challenges came down to not having current and complete information stored in a central location. In addition to the team boards, some team members tracked their work on separate boards. Some people would also forget to update the team boards. We never had an accurate picture of what was going on.

Before using LeanKit

We used to get so frustrated trying to read each other’s messy handwriting and having to rewrite information when items moved from one board to another. We relied on memory to recall some information, and we were constantly getting up and down to adjust the board and ask each other questions like, ‘Do you remember this person or that person who did this job?’ This meant our work days were filled with frequent interruptions. It killed productivity.

All that said, the biggest problem was that the amount of work our team could manage was literally limited to what we could fit on the boards. Sometimes, when a board was full, we’d track additional work in a spreadsheet or use the CRM system to create job orders until we cleared some room on the board. But those workarounds were clunky and unsustainable.

What brought you to LeanKit?

I knew there had to be a better way. While our process itself works well, the way we managed it definitely had drawbacks. The situation became more urgent when it started impacting our ability to attract and retain talent. The younger people on our team made it very clear that they thought the whiteboards “sucked”.

We needed a tool that everyone would use, and that was flexible enough to support our existing process. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d find a solution. When I learned about LeanKit, my immediate reaction was “We need this!” It was clear that adopting a virtual whiteboard approach would be so much easier than relying on physical whiteboards, and we liked how we could customize LeanKit to match our existing work process

How has using LeanKit changed the way your team works?

We can find and retrieve information faster now that everyone has instant access to the same accurate, up-to-date information. This has greatly reduced the number of interruptions throughout the day and the amount of time we spend searching for information.

After using LeanKit

Our electronic boards now contain all the information related to a job order. Before, we had to drill down several levels in our CRM system to find, add or edit records, which took a lot longer - and sometimes the data wasn’t even there. Overall we’re much more efficient in the way we handle and use information.

Is anyone missing the physical whiteboards?

Absolutely not! Everyone agrees that LeanKit is a great improvement for us both visually and organizationally. The team is more engaged as a result and more likely to keep the boards updated. It’s just so easy now - if I remember something I need to add late at night, I can just do it online. I don’t have to remember to do it the next time I’m in the office.

How is LeanKit impacting your business?

I credit LeanKit with enabling us to scale up the amount of business that we can handle. As we’re no longer limited by the physical whiteboards, we’ve been able to expand our team and hire more people. The ability to scale creates a continuous cycle of having a bigger team, which brings in more business, requiring even more team members, who then bring in more business.

I credit LeanKit with enabling us to scale up the amount of business that we can handle.

The other huge benefit of LeanKit is increased efficiency, which improves our bottom line. With LeanKit, our team saves about an hour a day in not having to get up from our desks, interrupt each other, or dig for information, and then another hour a day that we used to spend in status meetings. Overall I would estimate that LeanKit has made us about $286,000 a year in pure profit, an ROI of 13,597% in the first year alone. (Yes, you did read that correctly!)

In our business the main deterrent to team members maximizing their revenue stream is often the logistics of data sharing. Therefore, even small increases in efficiency result in geometric scaling in terms of improved results.

Is it fair to say that LeanKit is a differentiator for Vaco Technology?

Yes, that’s fair. For Vaco Technology, given our client base, it’s important that we’re known to be tech-savvy. LeanKit enhances the way we appear to our customers. Our younger employees who complained about the physical whiteboards are characteristic of the changing workforce. Being able to visualize and share in real-time all the information that used to be stuck on our whiteboards is impressive. We can pull up our LeanKit boards on a mobile device in meetings with candidates.

Having the right tools is also an important factor in our ability to hire and retain talent. Being able to look at LeanKit, versus the industry standard of the whiteboard, is a huge selling point.

How has LeanKit helped you as a manager?

Before, I had to monitor seven large whiteboards, plus the ones that individual team members kept. None of those were near my desk so it was hard to keep track of everything.

My new mantra is “The boards don’t lie.” It’s a great supervisory tool.

Now, everything I need is all on one screen – I can get to target lists, sales contest data, leads, job orders and candidates quickly and easily.

My new mantra is “The boards don’t lie.” The boards give me so much visibility – they’re always current and I can see how my team members are doing without asking them for status updates. It’s a great supervisory tool.

Do you have any advice for others considering LeanKit?

Think beyond your immediate need and look at how you can broaden your utilization of LeanKit. It’s a powerful tool that can be used in so many ways. In addition to tracking our workflow in LeanKit, I’ve used boards to build target lists, host a sales contest, you name it! I want others to know they should take full advantage of what LeanKit can do. It’s like having the old whiteboards on steroids with 50 times the amount of information on it.

Thanks Vaco, for sharing your story with us!