If you are like me, you are struggling to keep up in a constantly connected world where we must do more, do it faster, and do it better. I was starting to feel overwhelmed, and my work, and that of my team, felt like it was piling up.
Worse still, as a manager, I started to notice the team feeling somewhat despondent as they were churning through more work than ever, but we rarely celebrated jobs done, because we were to busy with what was next.
Something’s gotta give or we’ll burn out…
My list of concerns looked something like this – sound familiar?
- Managing the sheer volume of campaigns and keeping up with the status of each one.
- Prioritising which campaigns to focus on.
- Measuring the effectiveness of each campaign.
- Communicating which campaigns we have in play to our sales team.
- Understanding what work the team is working on.
- Probably other stuff but I don’t have time to post more than 5 bullets because of above.
We needed a new working model and process
I’ve used nearly every project management and productivity software under the sun. Asana, Excel, Outlook Tasks, PPTX, Gaant Charts etc etc…
Each solution has a place, however we didn’t have a single tool that visually represented what we were doing.
The ‘ah ha’ moment
Everything fell into place when I visited one of our Dynatrace customers. A company that practices #DevOps theories across the entire organisation. On the walls I could see projects, priorities, and outcomes, written out and placed on the wall for all to see.
The next morning our marketing team in Melbourne wrote out each campaign, project and task we had on our plate. It was bigger than this but this was our first pass.
At first it felt terrifying. I could sense the stress levels going through the roof.
We then devised an order to put them up on the wall.
- We grouped each campaign into 30 days, 90 days, and long term.
- Within this we grouped the campaigns into project owners.
- Lastly the higher up the wall, the more important it was.
A few really important things happened as we did this.
- We discussed which project was more important than others and why. This helped create a collective understanding and agreement to prioritise.
- We could visually see we had too much, and we focused on what we could do. We could either (a) find someone else to do it or (b) delete it.
Conversations now centre on work in progress, and instead of feeling helpless that there is too much, we are able to visualise and make a group decision on what to prioritise.
Better still, 2 minutes after we put this up, one of our sales team walked in and asked if we could do something for him. We pointed to the wall and said ‘take a ticket’. His response ‘don’t worry looks like you have enough on your plate’.
So now we had a physical wall we needed a virtual wall.
Trello – Our Virtual Wall
Not all of my team is based in Melbourne. I have remote team members, and even our Melbourne based team often works from home. As such I wanted a virtual wall where I could work with each person as though I was there in person.
I needed something simple and visual and Trello met with brief. I had used Trello before but I didn’t have a system to follow. Now it feels like the perfect solution.
Our team now has structure to our weekly WIP meetings. It addresses a number of problems we had in the past:
- We can see what is in the ‘to do’ and what is ‘done’.
- We can quickly communicate campaign priorities both within our team but also to sales
- We can prioritise and reassign
- We can feel a sense of achievement as the ‘done’ list grows longer.
Overall – it’s helped our team feel more in control of work. That feeling of control will help us get more done, to do the work better, and to prioritise work that will have the biggest impact.
I’m even planning on putting this up on the wall in the kitchen at home for my wife and I to manage our admin, house maintenance and to do’s!
Anyone else using Trello or a similiar process? If you start using any of the techniques above let me know how it works for you?
p.s if you want to try Trello use my link then I can get a free month of GOLD use. (n.b this was not the intention of my post…!)