Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

AUG 23, 2016 • Written by Nickie McCabe

One of the great benefits of working for a small company like Corgibytes is the ability to adopt change quickly, especially in day-to-day operations. If we see something isn’t working, we don’t have to wait weeks or months for a committee to evaluate and approve a potential improvement in processes. Rather, when we identify a problem, we can suggest a solution to the team, and immediately start implementing the change. Improvement is not only continuous, but executed quickly as well.

As some of you may know, Corgibytes is named after Ein, our co-founder Scott’s faithful Pembroke Welsh Corgi. What you likely don’t know is that she also has a digital counterpart. Digital Ein is our virtual office manager and assistant and has played an integral part in enhancing our daily operations and keeping Corgibytes running smoothly.

The Birth of Ein

As consultants, one of our most important daily responsibilities is completing our timesheets. Having a complete and detailed timesheet allows our project managers to produce accurate budget reports and predict more accurate project timelines. It gives our CEO, Andrea, insight into how each of us is spending our time each day, and, for many of us, it ensures that we will get paid for our work. About a year ago, Ein was born after a former colleague was struggling to complete his daily timesheets on time. To help assist him in this responsibility, he created Ein.

Ein is built on Lita, an open-source chat bot written in Ruby with persistent data stored in Redis. Lita’s documentation is well written and has made adding new functionality to meet our needs incredibly easy. Ein is deployed on Heroku and is a custom bot member in Corgibytes’ Slack. Ein also has a little sister, Ein Test, who is a custom bot member in Slack as well and helps out when we’re testing new features.

How Ein Operates

As mentioned above, Ein was originally created to assist us in remembering to complete our timesheets. However, since her inception, she’s come to take on numerous additional responsibilities. Thanks to the ease of adding new plugins to Lita, Ein is able to integrate with all of the websites and tools we use every day.

Each morning, Ein sends out a budget report pulled from Harvest to each of our internal client channels in Slack.

Budget Report

At the beginning of each month, she creates new monthly projects in Harvest for each of our clients.

New Project

If someone forgets to complete their timesheet, she gently nags them to complete it in our general use Slack channel.

Timesheet Reminder

When we get a new customer payment in Stripe, Ein posts the details in our Financials channel.

Stripe Alert

She even helps to build comradery by asking a question of the day or about our weekend plans.

Question of the Day

Ein is also responsible for a number of other tasks, and we’re currently building out integrations with Nutshell and Todoist to help further automate our sales process and task management as well.

Are Digital Canine Assistants the Future?

As a developer, I’ve loved getting to write code that has an immediate impact on my work. It’s exciting to see, in a tangible way, something I’ve written help improve efficiency. I’m grateful that Corgibytes is so responsive and flexible, and it’s exciting to let my mind wander and think about what interesting enhancements I could add to Ein next.

So, what about you? Have you experimented with a digital assistant? Or automated your operations in another way? We’re always looking to improve so we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!