When running a start-up with a fully distributed team, founders are often faced with a dilemma. How do you ensure that your distributed team remains creative and collaborative while meeting every deadline?
In this success story, we hear from software startup BigBangThemes about how they’ve established workflows to achieve efficient, distributed teamwork.
Founding a Fully Distributed Startup
BigBangThemes is a software startup that builds and sells attractive web templates. We had the pleasure of hearing from BigBangThemes’ Founders, Andy and Alex Marin, about how they manage their small but growing team to deliver quality products.
The team aims to boost client earning potential by designing and creating products such as drag and drop email builder tools, and WordPress themes for client websites.
However, with a distributed workforce, they’ve come up against some team management challenges:
“We’re a 100% distributed team of 9, meaning absolutely everyone works from home,” Founder, Alex, explains. “This is where the need for a really good task management tool was absolutely vital for us. Working remotely comes with a huge set of challenges that we needed to figure out before achieving productive work.”
As a result, the team began looking for a planning tool that would help them to create a collaborative company strategy. Additionally, they sought a task management solution that would help align all deadlines and enable teamwork, even when working from different home offices.
Aligning Business Priorities via a Strategy Mind Map
A couple of years ago, the team realized the business was beginning to struggle as their distributed team lacked a clear company vision. As a result, the team began searching for a project management solution that would help them to identify clear deadlines and prioritize work:
The team searched for a tool that would enable them to map out all areas of their business and workflows. The aim was to understand where inefficiencies were occurring and where perhaps further investment was needed. For this, the team used MindMeister to create a detailed business strategy mind map, shared with all team members online:
“Thankfully, we were able to use MindMeister to clearly outline every aspect of our business and the way it’s interconnected with others,” Alex shared.
“This helped us to realize that we were simply not focusing enough resources on the most important elements in our business. When running a startup with limited personnel, it’s sometimes hard to focus on going in the same direction. You tend to shift left or shift right following ideas or profits, but this is definitely detrimental in the long term.”
The mind map has provided the company with a clear vision and a refined business strategy. By including all important business information, it can also act as a knowledge map, to support remote team members with questions or onboard new staff.
Putting Strategy into Action with MeisterTask
Once the team’s priorities and inefficiencies were clear, the BigBangThemes’ Founders were able to move forward and establish a new workflow. The main aim was to manage all projects in one place while ensuring that teams weren’t under-resourced or over-loaded. For this, the team uses MeisterTask:
“For a company that’s working in so many different micro niches, it was extremely important for us to find a task management tool where we can clearly separate projects and create different tasks within those projects,” Alex explained.
“Between that and the ability to integrate our Slack app to simplify communication even further, MeisterTask was simply a perfect match.”
By using the MeisterTask integration with BigBangTheme’s main internal communication tool, Slack, the team is able to stay up-to-date with all project and task progress, both via the automated updates in Slack and by monitoring the transparent Project Boards.
Transparent Project Boards for Distributed Working
To ensure all team members remain in the loop with project progression, BigBangThemes run monthly sprints and check-ins for task completion via their shared MeisterTask project boards.
Within their sprint project boards, it’s mandatory that team members include all tasks that are coming up, in progress and complete. This provides Alex and the rest of the team with a quick, visual overview of how projects are progressing, despite being distributed.
Similarly, when tasks move from one stage to the next, the next team will be notified, either via the task being reassigned to the next team member or via the Slack integration.
“Our projects are mostly labor-intensive and include several departments. This is the reason why having everything under the same roof is mandatory. With our shared project boards, the designers can see exactly what the developers need, making the QA process seamless.”
A Home for New Ideas
In an ordinary office setting, ideas and creative thoughts would usually be shared across desks or in meetings. To ensure these thoughts aren’t lost, despite not being located in one office, the BigBangThemes team create sections within their MeisterTask boards, specifically for ideation:
Integrating Client Feedback Throughout The Project
Within their “Building the future” project section, the team also compile ideas and feedback from their clients, for the team to incorporate into future updates.
In order to ensure all client feedback will be considered within their monthly sprints, the BigBangThemes team use the Zendesk integration for MeisterTask.
Via the integration, all feedback is sent directly to the relevant MeisterTask project board. The tickets are then created as tasks for consideration, meaning no client input will be lost or forgotten.
The Outcome: Deadlines and Valuable Ideas are Never Missed
Alex shares that using MindMeister and MeisterTask to refine strategy and plans, and then turn these ideas into action, has made a big impact on the organization of their distributed team:
“It’s just so extremely easy to log an idea and discuss it later,” Alex explains. “This way you avoid forgetting to add these small but very useful features to your project while ensuring that all product deadlines are met.”
At MeisterLabs, we’re always excited to hear about the positive impact that MindMeister and MeisterTask are having on businesses. For more information on the work of BigBangThemes, visit their website.
If you have a story to share about the impact that MindMeister and MeisterTask have had on your business, we’d love to hear from you!
To get in touch about being featured in a success story on our blog, drop Olivia an email at olivia (at) meisterlabs (dot) com