8th Light’s Future Looks Bright with PipelineDeals

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Chicago-based software consultancy 8th Light specializes in crafting technologies for businesses and educating clients on how to effectively use them. On its Web site, the firm boasts “expertise in a variety of programming languages.” The outfit is comprised of educators and offers paid apprenticeships to beginning software engineers, notes Margaret Pagel, 8th Light’s vice president of sales. But having a team of technically savvy employees doesn’t mean the company fails to appreciate straightforward functionality when it comes to the systems it uses every day.

In 2011, when Pagel joined the company as the only member of its sales force, 8th Light had plans for expansion, but to do so, Pagel says, it needed a simple way to share account information between sales, finance, and HR, as well as to streamline operations as it grew.

The company had been using Highrise’s contact management software, but Pagel says that it “became a nuisance, to be honest—I used it 70 percent of the time, and no one used it the rest of the time.”

While 8th Light builds most of its own software internally, it became increasingly clear that the company was lacking one significant tool: a CRM system.

The consultancy tested offerings from a variety of vendors, Pagel says. “Most of them got us about 90 percent [of what we needed], but it was the last 10 percent that was gnawing away at us,” she says. Pagel tested Salesforce.com but felt it offered too many components the company didn’t need and was missing some of the essential features 8th Light needed most. While she appreciated Salesforce.com’s extras, what 8th Light required was the core functionality of a reliable repository, one that could store lead, prospect, and client data as well as technical information pertaining to each separate project.

Seeking to implement a lightweight and efficient solution, 8th Light turned to PipelineDeals in January of 2012. The vendor provides small to midsize businesses with a cloud-based sales account management platform.

The setup, Pagel says, took as little as two minutes and required no additional training. The information stored in its previous CRM system was imported in less than a day. “Logging in and setting up the users took the most amount of time,” Pagel says. “It’s simple, and very easy for anyone to pick up and use at any time.”

With the solution, 8th Light has been able to significantly increase its productivity, Pagel says. Notably, the software has helped 8th Light manage its growth by making it easy for management to see what must be prioritized and enabling it to run monthly reports for board meetings.

“I appreciate the expediency of the daily updates,” Pagel notes. The interface is “visually attractive, and I like that. It’s something everyone can use, share, and access without help.”

Pagel summed up the solution’s impact in a statement: “With the full team on board and wanting to use the software, we finally have a reliable repository of everything needed to efficiently manage our sales pipeline, from leads to client account data and the critical technical information for projects.”

Going a step further, Pagel has begun entering metrics from outside sources into PipelineDeals, with the goal of building on its sales projection and forecasting features. Using such analytics, 8th Light can better estimate the amount of revenue it expects from prospects, how long an engagement will last, how many people will be needed to work on a project, and which offices a project should be run out of.

Since implementing the solution, the 10-year-old company has grown from 10 to 100 employees and opened additional locations in three major cities here and abroad: In addition to its corporate headquarters in Chicago, the company now has offices in Los Angeles, New York City, and London. Employees in those locations are also plugged in to PipelineDeals.

And the company plans to continue its expansion and will announce additional services. “What we have that’s working,” Pagel says, “is working very well for us.”

The Payoff

Since implementing PipelineDeals' CRM solution in 2012, 8th Light has seen the following growth:

  • new locations in three cities: New York, London, and Los Angeles; and
  • a workforce expansion from 10 to 100 employees.

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