Lisa Ann Pinkerton, Founder & President of public relations and marketing firm Technica, found herself turning to virtual assistants when her company’s staffing needs grew.
“I needed staff who could help me with day-to-day tasks,” explains Pinkerton. “However, I did not want to hire full-time employees since my needs fluctuated often based on the size of client projects.”
Needed: a time-saving solution
Luckily, Pinkerton found one and then another virtual assistant through friend and family contacts. However, she still needed a good way to work with, and manage, both of them remotely.
“That realization led me on a search for good software for virtual assistants which would allow me to direct and collaborate with them, but also save me time while doing so; time which could be used to focus on my clients’ success.”
After researching and trying a few of the available online solutions, Pinkerton settled on oDesk.
A virtual assistant for managers of virtual assistants
oDesk was just what Pinkerton needed. Using the tool, she can:
- Privately assign tasks to one or both of her virtual assistants;
- Set the pay rate for each task separately;
- Monitor the time spent on her tasks because each virtual assistant must first log into oDesk and check out a task before getting to work (thus enabling time tracking and also setting the pay rate for that time based on the job on which they are working);
- Assure that here virtual assistants are indeed working on her tasks when they claim to have been by taking local screenshots at random times;
- Receive, review and pay invoices from each of the virtual assistants at regular intervals; and
- Elect to have oDesk handle the entire tax task by tracking and issuing 1099 forms.
“I love oDesk” says Pinkerton. “They handle all the paperwork and project workflow, leaving me free to focus on my clients. And,” she adds, “My virtual assistants love it too because they get paid a lot faster.”
Pinkerton does not use oDesk for everything however. Like many tech-savvy business owners, she picks and chooses from the many, many solutions available to fulfill her business needs.
For example, Pinkerton uses Google Documents to collaborate with her virtual assistants, even though oDesk offers a solution for that as well.
“They do offer virtual meeting rooms,” says Pinkerton. “But I haven’t dug into that much because the last time I checked, they did not allow you to collaborate on a document directly like Google does.”
In addition, she and her virtual assistants use Skype for all their face-to-face and phone communications.
The time and cost savings realized by using virtual assistants over full-time staff has led Pinkerton to claim her staffing flexibility as a differentiator. From Technica’s About page:
“To us, “growth” is not reflected in the size of our staff. We add to our team to support client demand and keep overhead low to pass the savings onto you in the form of service.”
How about you?
Have you used virtual assistants successfully? What tools have you used to manage their work and to collaborate on projects? What advantages do you gain with the virtual assistant approach?
Please share your experiences and thoughts below.