Context and issues
Ruben joined Crew as late founder and Chief Revenue Officer in July 2022. At the same time, the company team was getting bigger - from 3 to 8 people. As Crew is a full remote company, we used to share team-members successes and next tasks within an asynchronous weekly note. This very early stage model quickly reached its limits as the team grew. Therefore, when joining the company, he faced 3 challenges:
- Being transparent: keep having visibility on what other team members do
- Plan: coordinating efforts within the team, so we can move forward together
- Execute: prioritizing and organizing people tasks so that everyone can get things done
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” Benjamin Franklin
Solution - One To-do, multiple views
To answer those challenges we build and implemented a notion board that allows everyone in the company to show what he did, what he needs to do and allow him to plan short-term and long-terms according to the company overall objective.
The key was to use one single database but with different views, depending on different use cases:
- Company level overall achievements and roadmapping
- Coordination between teams
- Team level overall achievements and roadmapping
- Individual planning
Our use cases
Centralization - having a single source of information
Small or big teams, you always need to have a centralized, exhaustive, and up-to-date view of what the whole company is working on. This allows you to monitor your plan's progress.
It also allows team members to know more about other teams' priorities and progress. As a result, your team have a full visibility and full context of planned and on progress projects, resulting in a much better involvement. Plus, they are then focusing on the execution, instead of wasting time on finding ways to share the information, on weekly meeting, and on projects synchronization.
Coordination - organizing execution between teams
Coordinating efforts is key when team tasks are interlinked. By implementing a timeline (Gantt-diagram style) with all your team tasks, you improve dependencies management. Using timeline on Notion is really easy: you set a start as well as an end date, and Notion’s magic does the rest.
Of course, you don’t always know when will you perform certain tasks, and you may have different level of priorities for each (those in backlog, not planned yet, and those planned). At Crew, we implemented different status to manage those differences:
- Backlog: A task that you’d like to do in the future but not planned yet. Usually, you just have assigned it and the next step is to define the level of priority for this task, as well as decide to plan it later on.
- Planned: Whenever you have decided when you will perform it, you can then give it this status and the task is displayed in your timeline.
Once tasks are planned (for next weeks, months or quarters. Depending on your agility and willingness to plan long term), you can then just start focusing on your execution
Working as a team - achievements and roadmapping
At a team level, the priority is the first element you want to define. Once done, and your tasks planned, you can use a new view based on timeline to efficiently work as a team and focus on achievements as your roadmap evolves every day.
At Crew, we use this view for our teams dailies (DSM) to check the next steps, the work being done and the achievements. To do so, we have created several statuses:
- In progress: Whenever the task is currently being done
- Done: Task done in the last sprint (weekly basis, at Crew)
- Passed: Task done in the previous sprints (more than a week ago)
Doing so, it allows us to evaluate our speed and level of execution for the past weeks, and thus better plan for the week(s) ahead.
Individual execution - being able to plan and deliver on what you committed on
An individual to-do list can be very different from a person to another. Some likes to write it on a paper (how satisfying is it to cross out a done task from your to-do list?!), others use To-do list apps, Trello boards, or even their own notion boards etc... The objective wasn't to force the team to use this one instead of theirs. It will never work anyway. But rather to allow the team to have a place where they can all add theirs main tasks, and hence be shared with the rest of the team.
This been said, they can still use it as their own to-do. Ruben, Diane (PM), and Lucas (Frontend) used to use a Trello board, but then adopted this new solution as their own to-do. Mostly because when updating it, it's instantly updated to everyone. And because with filters, and all different Layouts that Notion offers (Board, Timeline, Table, Calendar, and List), everyone in the team can customize a view that fits her own needs.
One thing we didn't expect, but that was a shared feedback throughout the whole team: when you commit to a task in front of the whole team, it gives you an extra motivation to achieve it 💪
- Plan, coordinate and execute: whatever the tool you use, planning and coordinating efforts is key to help you focus on execution.
- Simple and lovable: the more widely spread in your team, the more accurate and useful it is as a centralized and trustworthy source of information. To do so, you need to make sure the tool is easy to use and doesn’t make your team members lose time
- Notion board is an amazing tool: as it allows you to create a single database with multiple views, fully customizable, so it can fit every team and everyone needs
As promised, here is the template for centralizing all team's todos