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Why We Created Sonar

After 5+ years in the services business running Fishermen Labs, we’ve created the tool we’ve always dreamed of using.

The obvious question when it comes to the creation of a SAAS product or even worse another project management software is why do we and others need it?

We’ve been in the services business running Fishermen Labs for the last 5 years, building software for companies and individuals and one of the biggest things we’ve learned is that it is really hard. Almost half of all the companies and individuals that come to us, come to us after they’ve already had at least one failed attempt with another service provider. We found that almost all of these failures, like most conflict in life, come from a misalignment in expectation or a lack of communication.

We searched long and wide for software that would help us run our business, but we couldn’t find anything. There was either project management software (i.e. Jira, Trello, and Asana), built to help teams manage tasks and productivity, or there was sales and marketing software that help manage and close deals (i.e. Salesforce, Pipedrive, Copper). In fact, here’s a long list of all our favorite agency tools.

What helps teams ensure that projects are healthy after a deal is closed? We believe this account management function (or customer success function) is one that almost every service provider or agency has and yet there is no software that is built specifically for the account manager. There isn’t always a specific person with a title “account manager”, but at every company, someone is responsible for making sure that a project is successful.

Right now, the flow for me is as follows. A client typically emails me and says, “please call me.” I then shoot an email to my project manager and ask them to update me on the status of a project and ask why the client wants to talk to me (is he or she mad?).

At the end of the project, I’ve gotten no direct feedback from the client, there’s no timeline or accountability throughout the life of the project on what was agreed (i.e. we are an agile development shop and the client had a phone conversation and wanted to add a feature, but this was never documented and the client didn’t remember the conversation), and my team may be burnt out from working on a project that never dies. This workflow sucks because I don’t know what the client or my team is feeling until it’s too late, and the client doesn’t know what’s going on until something is wrong – and every service provider we’ve talked to experiences the same thing.

Because of this, we started by building a tool internally, which we called Project Sonar. The goal of this software was to help us operate our business: increase communication with our clients and our teams, and make sure that our expectations with our clients were aligned. We wanted to create a system that required as little work as possible. The last thing our team wanted to do was manage another piece of software that doesn’t bring any value.

We decided that this software brought so much value that it was time to productize it with the features we thought were most important:

  • Feedback forms that can be sent to the whole team or certain individuals and can be automated and scheduled
  • Issue and win tracking so that the entire team can rally to fix what isn’t going well and celebrate what is
  • A project hub that stores key information about a project so that there aren’t a dozen random notes pinned on your slack channel
  • We created “snapshots”, which take a rhythm that most teams do (weekly updates) and makes it simple to update the entire team and doubles as a way to get even more feedback

There’s a lengthy product roadmap ahead of us and we believe this is just the beginning. There are so many additional account management and customer success tools that we think would be helpful: resourcing, budgeting, understanding profit margins, milestone and churn tools, project management integrations, slack integrations, etc. We appreciate you checking out this tool and we hope it helps you have happier teams, happier clients, and healthier projects.