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Virtual company, rock-solid assistance

Oct 08, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Kathy Berona relies on Groove P2P collaboration to manage her many clients

“I am the queen of multitasking,” says Kathy Berona, owner of Executive Virtual Assistance, a home-based business that provides administrative help. A former administrator for an IT consulting firm, Berona started EVA in 2001 because she was bored and under-challenged.

Now she works for 10 different tech company executives each day, managing their schedules and travel arrangements, conducting research, ordering office supplies – even sending the occasional flower arrangement.

“I save my clients thousands each year because they only pay me for what I produce,” Berona says. “I learn their businesses and handle the day-to-day administrative details. This allows them to focus on what they are passionate about in business and frees them up for a more fulfilling person life.”

To manage so much information, Berona uses Groove Workspace ($200), a peer-to-peer collaboration tool that lets users exchange documents and schedules without a file server. The Groove standalone client provides a 192-bit encrypted virtual desktop where Berona can view documents and presentations, chat and share project information.

Groove is designed to integrate with established business processes and tools. Other products, such as WebEx and 4 Teams, try to wedge corporate workers into a new framework. For Berona’s clients, that’s just not possible. Many are barely proficient at Outlook scheduling, and are looking for an off-site assistant who can simplify, not complicate, their life.

“Many of my clients have a hard time keeping their schedules up to date,” Berona says. “With online collaboration, they can schedule a meeting with a click of their mouse. They don’t have to send me documents; they just update them online. There’s no back-and-forth and phone tag, which makes me more productive.”

In a typical day, Berona collaborates on hundreds of documents with her clients, running as many as three Groove sessions at once. “Groove allows me to stay in sync with my clients in real time,” she says.

Lately, Berona has been using more advanced Groove functions. For one executive, she has been assisting with a business plan, adding action items and task reminders that push her into the realm of project management. For another client, she configured a virtual workspace so two executives could communicate more easily and rely less on administrative help.

In just two years, Berona has expanded her business to 14 clients, yet has never made any major small business purchases, such as network hardware. And, she has never had to learn more complicated tools such as Microsoft SharePoint Team Services. In fact, she learned how to run a virtual business by taking a six-month course at For a virtual assistant, she made a rock solid career move.


John Brandon is a technologist, product tester, car enthusiast and professional writer. Before becoming a writer, he worked in the corporate sector for 10 years. He has published over 8,500 articles, many of them for Computerworld, TechHive, Macworld and other IDG entities.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of John Brandon and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.

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