As Business Operations Manager at HealthLumen, I have been responsible for getting in place all the systems and processes we need to launch the company. I’m sharing here some of our experiences, and the decisions made on the systems we chose, which I hope will be useful for other start-ups aiming to get up and running!

Finance: Xero

Cash is king and we need to keep a close eye on it! Xero is easy and simple to use, providing a clear overview of finances in real time, and includes automated bank feeds, and all invoicing processes (even lets you know when an invoice has been opened by the recipient!). Multi-user access makes it easy to collaborate online with your colleagues and financial advisors/accountants and even makes the VAT returns a dream (yes, really!). Everything is run online, so there’s nothing to install and all critical data is backed up automatically.

CRM: Pipedrive

Pipedrive’s simple setup helped us hit the ground running with a CRM. The email integration is complementary to other apps in our toolset, and gives us improved communication within our team, with a shared place to store contacts, leads and notes. It makes prioritising our tasks easy for everyone to see – so you just know what to do every morning. It’s like an assistant eager to help you get the job done. Shame it doesn’t make coffee!

Email & office applications: Microsoft 365 (of course!)

Probably our easiest decision due to its dominance of the market. It works anywhere, allows for easy collaboration, and is cost effective. Installation on multiple devices enables you to sync work on your laptop, phone, tablet, and PC wherever you are. Compatibility with most clients and the shared drive enables our team to share their work easily. It gives you flexibility, accessibility, reliability, manageability and of course, security.

Cloud provider: Azure

To run our microsimulation model we assessed several of the leading cloud providers. We eventually decided on Azure, as it met all our operational needs, was cost-effective – and our IT partner has a lot of experience with it (AWS came a very close second…!)

Website: WordPress & GoDaddy

Our WordPress site (hosted by WPEngine) is simple to maintain, cost-effective and we have prior WordPress experience. Hopefully when you look around our website, you’ll like what we have done so far!

And for domain names – GoDaddy. It’s the biggest, the baddest, and perhaps the best, and most reliable for this critical service!

Project management: Asana

We considered various PM systems for our operations, research, project delivery, marketing, comms and various other tasks, and Asana came up trumps. It’s light, easy to use, inexpensive, keeps track of discussions and work, and gives great visibility. The system can be used on several devices, flagging tasks, deadlines, and assigning work where needed with ease – helping us to work as a team, even when we are all in different places.

Internal communications: Slack

Before we had offices – and even now with staff working on the go – it was important to keep in contact with each other, while keeping email usage for business and clients. What could replace the usual internal chat or catch-up by your desk, or in the kitchen making tea or coffee? Nothing really, but if we had to have something Slack was it. It’s free to use, easy to set up, you can quickly ping a note to each other or the group with a piece of useful information, or a question. Slack became our company chatroom.

Last but not least (and ten pairs of shoes later!), offices: the lovely Dawson House

Where do I begin?! We wanted an office that was comfortable, fully serviced, reasonably priced, in central London, and a place that we would look forward to going to work. Not an easy brief! I walked the streets of London, making a multitude of appointments with promising prospects, only to be let down each time.

I was becoming quite desperate that we would never find the perfect place. But then a friend had told me about an office solution company – One Avenue Limited with several new serviced offices, in good locations, so I contacted them. On my last appointment of a yet another long day of visits, I approached Dawson House. I wasn’t disappointed – fantastic facilities and great location! The offices are beautifully designed and maintained, and provide solutions for everything, IT, the post, reception facilities, tea and coffee on tap, meeting rooms, bicycle storage, showers, cleaning, office furniture – and even bespoke decorating in our corporate colours! I was delighted and was sure I’d found our new home; I just hoped the CEO and COO liked it as much as I did (and they did!) We moved in September and love our new space. The support staff at Dawson House have made us feel very welcome – they are efficient, friendly and can’t do enough for us to help. We are a very happy team and its lovely to be together working. Don’t get me wrong, our Slack Chatroom still works from time to time, but to be at home is a great feeling!

Stay tuned for further updates as our journey unfolds…

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