Bootstrapped efficient productivity — Software adventures of a bootstrapped startup (2)
The very first thing we looked at while starting our work on Advensure was the selection of our productivity tools. In the chain of the hierarchy of work and processes, selecting your productivity tools and setting measurement and reporting systems for the same is an important foundation for entire “building” that you construct that on.
Even though it was just 2 of us at the very start working out of my place, which made making to-do lists, communicating and tracking our progress quite simple, we still focused on finding tools that would help us do this, now and at scale (if and when we get there). Our thought behind that was to create certain processes for us to follow and since it was just the two of us at the start, we got the time to refine it. With that, as and when new members joined, they had a ready and efficient process that they had to plug into and start kicking ass.
Also, it gets quite tedious to change the tools and processes from the ground up, when there are more team members involved.
Selecting our productivity tools was quite an easy process, but creating a system using that as the base was a long and tedious road. We are still always working on refining the bridge between other 3rd party apps and our productivity tools and ensuring that the creation, tracking, and reporting of the tasks for everyone in the team is seamless.
The tools mentioned below are just the base tools we use. I’ll dig into the connections we have tried to make with other apps in the next set of blogs.
Task Management: Asana
I have been in love with Asana from the time we started using it at Advensure. It took us a lot of time to get everyone on the team to do the same (I think they might hate me a little for it).
Since Asana offers a free tier for up to 15 people, it worked perfectly for us. We did try out their paid version for about a month to see how it was improving our productivity, but we decided to opt out of it till the time when we have the money. There are many features (like task dependencies) in their paid version that I would love to have integrated with our processes, but hopefully someday!
The structure that Asana uses for its task management works perfectly for us —
Company > Teams > Projects > Sections > Tasks > Sub-tasks
Since we are a team of 5 currently with each persons handling aspects of each department of work, we divided our teams based on generic departments of the company, without cluttering the space. Our main roles are divided into:
Tech development — front-end, back-end, bugs etc.
Operations — vendor on-boarding, operational planning, adventure activity updates etc.
Content — blogs, newsletters, social media posts, PR etc.
Temporary projects (any short-term specific goals)
Everyone on our team is a part of most of these projects and is tuned into what is happening on all fronts. This helps with cross tracking of work and the general accountability of the workflow.
The integrations that they have, while not as many as some other services, are enough for us. In any case, they work with automation services like Automate.io and Zapier, so the gap is filled.
The team at Asana has focused on design from the get-go and it is very evident in their mobile app which is simple and easy to use.
Side note: If you haven’t already picked a service, or are still looking for one, you should check out Clickup. They are relatively new in the space, but their system is amazing. We might have opted for it if we hadn’t already had all the systems in place.
Automation Tools: Zapier + Automate
We have no loyalty (yet!). We are using competing services for parallel work.
Both Zapier and Automate offer a free version which lets you create 5 bots with a set number of job runs every month. While Zapier lets you create only a single step bot with 100 runs a month, it has a vast library of services it connects with. Automate on the other hand allows multi-step bots with 250 runs a month.
This lets us connect the services we use like Asana, Pipedrive, Gmail and others with each other to automate some steps and reduce our time. This also ensures that some repeated steps are not forgotten and relevant tasks are created for the same. The bots are easy to set up and the service is wonderful if you're using multiple apps
What tools do you use at your startup? Is there any that you think would've worked better than the ones mentioned above? Tell me what you think.
Check out the introduction of the “Software adventures of a bootstrapped startup”