You must have already tried various apps like Jira, Trello, Asana, and ClickUp for project management. Meanwhile, other companies are happy with Excel, cloud solutions from Google, Microsoft Project, and Confluence for documentation. But if there is a tool that combines the automation of the first and the simplicity of the second?
It's time to discover. At Uni, a creative digital agency, we deliver world-class 3D solutions and experiences. Here's our story of why we chose Notion for task management, project overview, and team communication. And how Notion invested in our high-level achievements.
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What Is Notion?
Notion debuted in 2016 as an all-in-one project management tool. It instantly conquered popularity due to customizable layouts and stylish minimalistic design. In general, Notion pushes the limits of plain note-taking apps. With many blocks, you set your workspace once, and then it works for you many times.
But why did companies like Pixar, Headspace, and Codeacademy opt for Notion in the first place? Let's dive in.
The Advantages of Notion Project Management Workflow
At Uni, our management and team needed to access statuses, files, and analytics in one click. With previous tools, we had to search data across different platforms. We sought a multifunctional tool to concentrate versatile production data in one place.
Moreover, we needed easy reporting. Going through a massive employee list to find the responsible one wasted a lot of time. Besides, collecting endless links or downloading huge files greatly complicated management.
Most project and task management tools suit certain sorts of workers in mind, such as marketers and software engineers. Overall, it proves them useless for other teams. Notion offered an alternative to it.
We have been using Notion for several years and that’s how it benefited our company. Notion is:
- Cost-effective. Since Notion is an all-in-one workspace, businesses can stop other application subscriptions: CRM, onboarding, project management, etc.
- User-friendly. It's simple to comprehend and users easily integrate it into their routines. When the application is effortless and enjoyable for employers, they eagerly follow the rules.
- Time-saving. Notion streamlines most workflows: creating content, taking notes, organizing projects, automating processes, and allocating tasks. The vast automation features also win the day.
- Portable. Notion works on many operating systems from almost every gadget. Besides, it has a lot of plugins and import-export functions.
- Stable. Losing all of your data would be a nightmare. Additionally to manual backups, Notion automatically records page history. Thus, you can recover any page from the last 30 days.
- Versatile. You build and automate your process pattern from scratch using the set of blocks. Alternatively, you can use templates from the official library or internet. There is an extensive Notion community generating lots of useful content.
Let us give you some practical examples of using Notion in our daily work.
The Main Features That Benefit Your Project Management
In addition to business workflows, Notion helps to track personal performance. So, you can start using Notion as a planner or time management app. So here we go to the Notion task management features.
The Dashboard page is a home page. It displays the entire structure of the company with subpages for distinct teams, divisions, and workflows.
Managers access the database, distribute tasks, and monitor processes. Employees, on the other hand, view data according to their access permits.
Within the Dashboard, you can create numerous pages, embed various databases to form the project space you like.
Project Log and Knowledge Database
Our clients often come back to us with new projects. In this case, we must return to the project archive and find the documentation and tasks from past iterations.
You can always find the project, as they are grouped by status and filtered by tags, time, appointed teams, etc. Also, other data about project teams like credentials, documentation, minutes, links stay there. We can review it at any time, facilitating our current project management with Notion’s storage features.
Furthermore, the screenshot above shows how convenient the Gallery view is. We can help to navigate the projects easily with visuals on the cards and properties with crucial information such as clarified status, link to project production, manager, and priority*.* Behind any card there is detailed information about the project, including documentation, necessary microservices credentials, etc.
At the same time, Notion project management databases present data in many forms. The gallery view is not the only one or even the most applicable. According to your needs and tastes, you can add Table, Board, List, Timeline, and Calendar views.
Project Plan Templates
The true magic begins when we create a new project using a pre-made template. The project subpage contains all metrics and structure the project manager needs to operate with.
This is a template for creating documents such as Project Proposal, Specifications Document, and records for Scrum events.
These templates cover all project areas, such as Project Scope Management, Change Management, and Risk Management. Moreover, the databases are linked together through Notion's relation system. With it, no more manual data updates are needed. All tables are interlinked together, giving access to their various parts with one click.
For example, when you update data in the WBS (Work Breakdown Structure), it is automatically pulled to the project team. Meanwhile, the Roadmap section receives milestone data updates. Plus, the Change Log Estimates also automatically go into Roadmap, making it as convenient as possible to keep all the data in a cohesive structure. At this extent, using Notion resembles a tree or a net according its structure.
Besides, when project managers initiate the project, they don't need to set up documentation. With Notion, materials are created automatically, optimizing reporting, documentation, and project tracking in general. As a result, developers have immediate and correct information to deal with.
Project documentation is good, but we need proper and timely communication to finish projects successfully. With Notion, any team member possesses clear and complete data to outperform. Here’s how we organized the collaboration workflows.
Daily Meetings Notes
Any project manager sometimes needs to revise prior tasks and assign new. In such a case of Notion task management, meeting minutes help. The project will only win when these notes are in quick access, not lost in infinite work chats.
We at Uni love automation for better results, even for team communication. That's why we added Meeting Notes to our project management template. Here’s how it looks.
We also implemented additional functionality to save our managers some extra time. Customized buttons automatically create a pre-made page for a particular type of call.If you need a new Daily Meeting document, click the Add Daily Standup button. A new page will appear with all call agendas. you will have to fill it in, and that’s all. The same thing concerns the Weekly Sync w/client call and so on.
No wasted time, we simply don't have any at Uni!
It seems like a small thing; however, each improvement saves hours of valuable time for our managers.
Human Resources Metrics
Let's start with what makes Uni the company that clients trust with their most exciting ideas - the people.
How do we keep developers always busy with exciting tasks? How do we track who is free at the moment? How do we assess when we should finish the project?
We control all these metrics thanks to our employee workload tracking system. The key to it is Notion time management features.
The information is filtered by department. It allows managing the team's capacity.
As a creative agency, we value the visuals of all brand materials we create. Notion pages are not the exception. For example, the screenshot above shows a pie chart visualizing the department sizes. This chart is directly linked to the database below via a third-party charting application. Thanks to the API connection, the chart is automatically updated every time you amend the database. Voilà, we have a stylish and convenient tool.
Integrating a new employee into the company processes is vital. We ensure that a new employee is aware of tasks and expectations, using Notion. In our opinion, every company needs to:
- give information about teams and contact persons on different issues;
- describe the tools;
- clear the management's expectations;
- ask for feedback from the newcomer.
The onboarding process is different for each position. For instance, the screenshot below illustrates the onboarding scope for the project manager. For the project manager, it's essential to understand the peculiarities of the processes so the onboarding discloses them in detail. We familiarize the managers with each stage of project work, from Project Initiation and Planning, Monitoring and Controlling to Project Closure to ensure their top-notch results.
Objectives and Key Results (OKR) Tracking
We prefer to track employees' achievements with a 30/60/90 system, incorporating OKR principles.
In a nutshell, the OKR system sets specific Objectives. Then, they are decomposed into Key Results, which are necessary to accomplish the global goal. In practice, we divide Objectives into 3 periods, using Notion. We set goals and objectives after 30-, 60-, and 90-day periods. Employees who complete all Objectives within these times are considered fully integrated into our company.
Furthermore, we created 2 different databases for Objectives and Key Results, which are linked together thanks to Notion's Relation system. Thus, we automate the progress tracking. Here's what the Objective subpage looks like.
The relations between the two databases enriched with the formula. When Key Results are sorted by status, the Objective progress will change. When all Key Results within the main Objective receive the Done status, the task will be marked as completed.
Thanks to the automation described above and interconnections between databases, we have built a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) system with the main metric %COM.
%COM is a ratio calculated with the formula: (time estimate / actual spent time)*100. It includes the assigned tasks per person and input data. We believe in teamwork at Uni, so the %COM metric correctly evaluates each team member's productivity. So, our managers enjoy Notion task management tools, because they no longer have to manually search and calculate all this information in a Jira or ClickUp task management system.
Motivational System Log For Employees
Our company has an exceptional employee incentive system developed by our marketing manager. It boosts employee activity on social networks. Using Notion, we welcome and reward every repost, video, or article our employees write. The reward is paid in our internal currency, UniCoins. With them, any employee can purchase a gift from our shopping list.
Once we had the idea of UniCoins, we immediately implemented it in Notion. The first problem was to develop the registration system because manual tracking scope was implausible.
To track every move, we integrated NoteForms with Notion. They create a form and link it to an existing database in Notion. When a user fills out a form, a new page is automatically created in the Notion's database, recording all responses. Then, the participant links his materials and selects the activity category. In the end, we can quickly credit the UniCoins to our employees.
Next, we rank the scores table thanks to the relation between the databases in the Leaderboard.
The participants can select the desired rewards from the gift gallery with a sneak peek below.
How do we balance out Notion's drawbacks?
We know its minuses since we've been using Notion long. However, we compensate it. Let's look at how.
- Overwhelming for a novice. Notion uses a block system to build the organization system. We present materials for new employees who need to become acquainted with the principles. They can help to get accustomed to the process.
- No means of reporting. We use third-party plugins to display the progress. However, Notion has internal notification features.
- No built-in communication tools. Although all users may edit and comment on the same pages, there are no internal chats. It's not a drawback since team members save only relevant information in the Meeting Notes.
Our years-long journey with Notion in project management has been transformative. In the end, the features and capabilities of Notion allowed us to revolutionize our project management processes and reach new levels of efficiency and creativity. Plus, we enjoyed Notion for personal productivity features.
Moreover, Notion's ability to create templates and automate documentation significantly streamlined our workflow, saving us time and effort. The gallery and table views have visualized our projects, making organizing and tracking our progress more manageable.
Therefore, the integration of KPI tracking has allowed us to monitor project health and individual performance seamlessly and efficiently. This empowered us to make data-driven decisions and optimize our resources effectively.
Notion's communication management features enhanced collaboration within our team. Meeting notes instead of overflown chats are easily accessible. They ensure that important conversations and decisions are documented and always at hand.
Overall, Notion has exceeded our expectations and has become an indispensable tool in our project management toolkit. Give it a try and unleash your creativity and efficiency with Notion in project management.
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Notion Template Gift
Thank you for reading this article. We have a special gift for you — an Automated Meeting Notes Notion template. It will save you time by giving a structured framework for dealing with various call types:
- A Daily Standup document gathers a meeting agenda for your Scrum team, just like filling out a form on a typical Scrum procedure.
- A Sprint Retrospective template records sprint milestones, discussing what went well, what is to be improved, and creating actions for future work.
- A Sprint Planning template guides through upcoming sprints or milestones. It defines the sprint goals, assigns, prioritizes tasks, and allocates resources effectively, ensuring a smooth and productive sprint execution.
- A Sprint Review template helps to review the sprint outcomes and accomplishments. It evaluates the deliverables, gathers feedback, and identifies areas for improvement in future sprints.
- A Weekly Sync w/client template eases a weekly meeting with the client. It includes sections for discussing project updates, addressing client concerns, and aligning on the following steps to ensure a smooth collaboration.
How to start using Notion templates?
Click on its button with the link to apply it. Once you're in Notion, choose the Duplicate option. You'll receive a template for the event type you need. And yes, this one is much better than the Meeting Notes samples from the Notion Template Library. It is proven in lots of real-world case studies.
Grab your free template and take your projects to new heights!
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