Imagine a super-team of specialists and experts, assembled to help organizations and governments around the world battle climate change.
Well, that team exists. Its name is E Co.
With broad experience that spans engineering, economics, and the environmental and social sciences, E Co. is on a mission to "make the world better, faster." To achieve this mission, its team must manage a wide range of relationships and clients that are scattered across the globe.
We chatted with Grant, CEO of E Co. and Project and Programme Formulation Specialist, to learn more about how E Co. is changing the world for the better.
Tell us a little bit about E Co.'s business.
Grant: Sure. We're a consulting company in the climate change sector. Our work is mostly in developing countries, so we have a very international team. We also work with many other key associates and local experts. We have two offices in London, and a couple of people in France, Bulgaria, and Croatia.
I suppose you could say we do management consulting work, but it's in a very narrow niche: we work specifically in the climate change sector.
For example, if you know there's going to be more heat waves, droughts, or floods, what can you do in terms of infrastructure, practices, or policies in order to be able to cope?
We help our clients develop strategies to address this.
Who do you commonly work with?
Grant: We have a smaller number of large clients, mostly international development banks and international organizations, UN agencies, and governments.
We help these organizations develop their strategies, projects, and programs in order to address climate change—either to reduce emissions or to improve the resilience of communities and their ability to adapt to these major changes.
We’re primarily using Copper to manage clients and the associates with whom we're working. We've got projects in Myanmar, Kenya, Jamaica, Haiti, Vietnam... everywhere. We work with a very diverse group of people around the world and we're tracking all our interactions in Copper.
We work a little bit like an onion. Our staff are the center of onion, and then the next layer out, what we call key associates, and the next layer outside of that are the non-key associates. The key associates are people that we work with frequently. They're not staff members—they're contracted. We may, within one year, contract them on five, six, seven different assignments.
How did you come to use Copper?
Grant: We were using a pretty simple CRM at the time and we were really coming up against some of the constraints related to it. It was a very labor-intensive process in just making sure that staff were recording conversations there.
Because of all the basic limitations, we did a fairly detailed review of alternative options and particularly liked Copper's strong integration with G Suite. We use G Suite for pretty much everything. We have, as you can imagine, lots of dispersed teams that are working on different assignments—we're very familiar with weekly staff meetings and using Google spreadsheets to manage projects. Everything is deliberately oriented around flexible online tools.
We quite liked what we were seeing with Copper and we were able to seamlessly integrate it into a workflow that we were already very familiar with. Customizable, but simple.
How does your team collaborate across all these different locations?
Grant: Typically, we work intensely with a team of maybe 10 people on an assignment. We use an agile, scrum-oriented approach to keep track of where we are.
Here’s an example. Someone on the team just had a meeting with a major public service organization in Vietnam. In three weeks, we may need to see what that conversation was about so no one’s time is wasted digging for information we’ve already gathered from the client.
I may be working on a project in Haiti and interacting with a client who's also on another project in Jamaica, for example. I need to be able to record notes and conversations that I have with that person about either project.
We're managing a full spectrum of day-to-day work, as opposed to just sales funnels. We actually don't have a sales team.
There isn't a select group of staff members who use Copper—everyone uses it because it’s our single source of truth. It's where we keep all our project knowledge related to conversations. We've also got a Google Drive folder where we record all the physical assets that we create, like reports and documents.
How long is your average client relationship?
Grant: Because these are international organizations, we tend to see quite a lot of churn—with employees working for them, not account churn. A 15-year relationship with an organization might encompass six, seven, or even more key contacts because they typically stay for a while and then move on. In terms of E Co.'s relationships, they're more with the organizations than with the individuals.
Today, I was updating a person's contact in Copper who's now with his third organization, but all three of those organizations have been our clients. He worked first with UN Environment, then with a Danish company, and now he's working with a Dutch company. We have a 10-year-plus relationship with him over all these different organizations! It's amazing when you think about how long of a relationship that is.