Client Success Story

Uniting Two Distinct Sides of an Impactful Firm

ImpactInstitute left its disparate tech tools behind and used Accelo as an end-to-end solution to fuse two merging businesses.


ImpactInstitute is an impact advisory, brand storytelling and events firm. The team of senior business leaders helps to scale the impact of for-purpose organizations across Australia and New Zealand. A major focus of the business is to connect people with disabilities with service providers in their respective regions. 

The organization has evolved out of a merger between an impact events and advisory firm founded by Director Royden Howie and a brand storytelling agency founded by CEO Mark Jones and board member Heather Jones. A shared focus on purpose-driven business and the ability to effect positive social change was the catalyst for joining forces.


In early 2021, the businesses were using multiple software solutions, which required a lot of manual work to get them to talk to each other. Each platform had a few good features, but none fully integrated everything the newly-merged business needed.

They relied on WorkflowMax for quoting and timekeeping, but it wasn’t sufficient for project management. Asana could handle project management but lacked pipeline and financial reporting. General Manager Paula Cowan says the time leakage from switching between systems was becoming costly, but it wasn’t yet clear what the solution was, as they needed a platform that could do all of the above and integrate with Salesforce and Xero.

On top of the tech stack challenge, ImpactInstitute was experiencing a significant business change: a merger of two teams with two distinct business models. Events and professional services were coming together, which meant any new platform they acquired needed to work for both. As it stood, they were spending time logging in to two different WorkflowMax accounts because the platform couldn’t accommodate their unique structure.


A fair bit of the firm’s work is recurring, so when the team came across Accelo, it stood out as the only platform that would allow them to easily and automatically manage retainers. And as a project manager, Paula also took note that Accelo’s end-to-end setup would help ImpactInstitute avoid scope creep.

She explains that the decision to go with Accelo was largely about the appeal of having everything from business development activity right through to project delivery in one system.

At ImpactInstitute, maintaining a culture that represents the business values is key. Paula found that Accelo could support that as well.

“Terminology was really important. The ability in Accelo to call things what we call them internally helps with culture,” Paula says. “For example, we think a lot in terms of partnership rather than transactions, so being able to tailor the language for modules was really helpful.”

A representative from each line of service got involved in implementation with Accelo’s Professional Services team to make the rollout successful. They developed templates that would work for their teams and processes. Then, they collectively focused on one module or feature at a time, setting up Projects, then time tracking, Reports, then quoting and so on.

Paula has practical advice for other business teams looking to implement the platform:

“One of the advantages of Accelo (that’s also a challenge) is that there are so many ways to do one thing,” she says. “Because it’s a powerful tool that is so flexible, you probably want to agree at first on the way you’d like everyone to approach processes.” 

Now, the team is successfully using Accelo for quoting, scoping, project delivery and improving the customer experience. As suspected, Accelo could house and automate a large part of what  they needed to be successful with both sides of the business:

  • Events require high-touch, high-frequency customer contact, which the team manages through Tickets.
  • Consulting is a low-touch, high-value service, for which Accelo supports client communication with synced emails and the client portal.


Visibility has generated the greatest positive internal effect of Accelo, especially in terms of the handoff from sales to projects. The connection between these two stages has made it much easier to accurately quote for similar work.

“The ability to quote using a project template means we can learn from how we delivered a project before to get accurate pricing that’s fair for us and for the customer,” Paula says.

Another upshot of improved visibility has been the ease with which the two branches of ImpactInstitute can show one another how they work. Some formerly customer-facing processes now have an internal version (graphic design, for example). So, the teams can see into each other’s workflows and apply them to different purposes.

Because business operations are now visible, our two distinct sides of the business have learned from each other, which has brought tremendous value.
Paula Cowan, General Manager and Senior Advisor

The folks at ImpactInstitute are currently in the midst of planning Australia’s first Social Impact Summit, a major opportunity for this intentional business to enable conversations around important topics in Australian society. Thus far, Paula says the process is going smoothly thanks to the ease of setting up and managing projects in Accelo, and she looks forward to more chances to externally showcase what the platform has allowed them to accomplish internally. 

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