Few things make me happier than being able to be productive and efficient in my role, and ensuring my team feels confident in knowing what they are accountable for. As I transitioned from general marketing into product marketing last year, one of my core challenges at Kahoot! was maintaining communications across team lines, ensuring responsibilities were clear to all, especially as many staff were transitioning into changing roles. Here are my top tips for streamlining work, simplifying processes and ensuring you hit all deadlines!
After analyzing existing workflow, I realized we had too many similar documents and spreadsheets related to product launches and other campaigns, with no consolidated overview for the team. Another key struggle was keeping everyone aware of which Product Manager was accountable for which feature or launch.
At Kahoot!, we use Trello, and I’ve found it to be super versatile, going beyond a Kanban setup.
I decided to repurpose an outdated board and created new lists for each month, thereby building a calendar. I then added cards with only the top level detail of the activity or event.
Finally, I added colored labels to define whether the activity was related to product, content, lifecycle, PR, commercial, and most importantly, to designate the relevant Product Manager. This static calendar helped provide a visual, high level overview that could be referred back to as the source of truth, if someone was unsure.
For programs and larger projects, I rely on Trello’s classic Kanban-style setup — designating by what’s up next, in progress, on hold, and done. I break down projects into manageable cards, and highlight by theme. This is also where features such as checklists, delegated members, and due dates really shine. You can get as granular as you like.
For my own to-do list, I use a mix of my own Trello card and Google Keep. I split my tasks by checklists designated by week, and I prefer to keep my Trello card visible to all, which is effective at keeping myself accountable. Reflection is much easier when everything is documented, since we all have weeks where it’s a struggle to recall what was delivered. My biggest recommendation is to not be afraid to constantly reprioritize tasks, on a daily basis.
As graphic and communications designers know well, structuring their tasks can be daunting when everything is designated as “urgent”. I supported our fantastic graphic designers by building their own board tailored to them.
By adding labels, members — i.e. the person requesting the asset, and the designer accountable — and setting due dates, our designers could prioritize their work list much more smoothly, and operate almost as a mini agency for the company. By having an entirely separate board, no specific design work could “get lost” in communication, everything was clearly documented, and no time was wasted following up with designators.
For larger product launches with diverse stakeholders coming into play, lines can quickly become blurred and communications can falter, especially when multiple cross-functional teams are involved.
We’ve found employing the RASCI framework — a staple of project management, and a slightly expanded version of the standard RACI — to build a responsibility assignment matrix can bring much needed clarity. Here’s a recap of what each letter stands for.
R = Responsible: The person who is ultimately responsible for executing the project successfully. There is typically one role designated as “R”, although others can be delegated to assist them.
A = Accountable: The person who has ultimate accountability and authority for the completion of the work; “R” is accountable to them. There can only be one “A” for each deliverable, as they are the core delegator.
S = Support: The people who support “R” and helps achieve deliverables. There are usually several “S” people listed on a project.
C = Consulted: The person or people whose input adds value to the successful delivery of the project — i.e. subject matter experts.
I = Informed: These are the people or groups who don’t need to be directly involved in the decision-making process, but need to be notified of results and completion of the deliverables.
Of course, no workflow is flawless, and iteration is constant. Processes need to be flexible, which is why I prefer dynamic tools such as Trello, so I can act quickly as company priorities and the work environment changes. It’s also important to remember that a tool is only as good as those who use it — it takes time to build habits and use a process within a team. That’s why it’s vital to champion a process and lead by example.
Build, implement, champion, refine!