Alongside a cacophony of guitar riffs and drumbeats, the staff of School of Rock needs to communicate with dozens of its franchise owners around the world.
The music school, which takes a teaching approach similar to that of Jack Black in the popular 2003 film of the same name, has 105 locations, and continues to expand. With employees on the go and working in several time zones, the staff last year needed a task management application that could send documents and messages outside of a basic email program.
School of Rock started using Do.com, a Salesforce.com social productivity mobile and Web application, and has seen the flow of work move as fluidly as one of its students getting the hang of a guitar solo.
"I don't like to micromanage," said Evan Trent, the senior vice president of corporate development for School of Rock. "But I can check in on something without bothering anyone. I can get a complete task update [on a project] and see that half of it is finished. I can also get a daily digest to see where everything stands."
Do.com debuted in November 2011; the app was known as Manymoon before Salesforce bought it. Do lets workers manage task lists, organize projects and create notes on a computer or mobile device. Users can comment on tasks and make other changes. In August, Do added a contacts sheet and deal tracker, it became available as an Android app, and integrated with Facebook, Google and Twitter.
But Do is not done. On Wednesday, Salesforce announced new connections that are now available: among them, the file-sharing sites Dropbox and Google Drive, the time-tracking site Harvest, and the Web form service Wufoo.
A business user can, for instance, offer its customers Do's connection to Wufoo as a CRM tool. Wufoo creates forms that become contracts, deals or tasks in Do. A user can also attach Dropbox or Google Drive files to Do tasks.
Salesforce had initially promoted Do as a task management application for businesses and consumers, but in an interview discussing the latest update, Do.com co-founder Amit Kulkarni said the product's target audience is small businesses.
School of Rock's corporate staff fit that mold. It has about 25 employees split between offices in Burr Ridge, Ill., and Denver. It also has about 1,500 mostly part-time employees at its company-owned and franchise locations.
The company has 105 locations, including three in Mexico and one in Brazil, where children from ages 2 to 18 learn music by immediately immersing into performances with others, rather than taking individual lessons with an instructor and sheet music. Adults can also take classes. School of Rock has plans for big growth this year, hoping to open at least two new schools each month.
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"A million things need to happen" and scores of people need to be involved with the opening of a school, Trent said. It requires communication between IT, marketing, human resources and the people behind the new school. With Do, the company creates a project template so everyone can weigh in on big and small decisions and note the progress of all sorts of tasks. The School of Rock no longer needs six different programs for that sort of task management, he said.
For instance, the corporate office will give a new franchise access to Do and create a timeline of due dates for important projects such as a marketing plan, lease or floor plan. The new franchise can comment and track progress. If Trent chooses, he can see instant messages on his phone if he wants to receive updates about changes to a task.
Trent looks forward to trying out the new apps available to Do, particularly Google Drive so the company can easily share documents.
Do is not the only task management application used by School of Rock. It still has email, provided by Google, and it uses Google Chat and Google Hangouts for visual communication. "But Do has fit nicely into that 21st century virtual collaboration," Trent said.
The trick for any task management application is to balance features against ease of use, said Alan Lepofsky, an analyst at Constellation Research Inc. in Monta Vista, Calif. Lepofsky is currently reviewing Do and other task management applications to judge that balance, but he said the new offerings seem to make Do "a more robust product, able to fulfill more of the end-to-end processes involved in a project."
Lepofsky added in an email: "I think it's a good move for Do.com to offer integration with other popular cloud-based services like Wufoo and Harvest. This additional functionality enables Do.com users to work on more areas of a project (e.g.: billing) without having to leave the context of their task."
It wouldn't surprise Lepofsky to see Salesforce acquire some cloud-based service companies to offer more in its core product, he said. It also wouldn't shock him to see Salesforce push its ChatterBox file-sharing service once it's available instead of its collaboration with Google Drive and Dropbox.