How Slite helps OneUp Sales "direct the ship" of company operations

Documenting your processes is a key step for company maturity

OneUp Sales knows how important employee motivation is — their business model is based on it.

As a company that sells to Sales organizations, they're invested in what makes someone likely to hit a target, or miss their mark. With data visualizations, team leaderboards and competitions, OneUp Sales improves Sales reps' success rates by making work fun.

Now at 36 people, the OneUp team works remotely and globally, and their "fun" product has taken on more serious intentions.

Their documentation journey

As OneUp grew from a tiny team in Birmingham to a global company with dozens of employees, they had to figure out how to play the long game. They looked internally to find out what made their own team tick.

We talked to Alex Wiley, Head of Product at OneUp, to learn more about what led them to start documenting their process, and ultimately to Slite.

'Truthfully, the company is run through Slack'

Like many companies, OneUp's remote days started in 2020. The founding team didn't intend to work remotely at first, and their early operations reflected that.

Culture-wise, they tried to keep things casual, even as they added more people to the organization. Alex describes it as "like having banter with your best friend."

On Slack, OneUp employees chat all day, about work- and non-work-related topics. "Truthfully, the company is run through Slack," he adds, pointing out how the company values are enforced via Slack kudos. These values include: "Team-first always," "Don't be a dickhead," "Impact over effort," and "Be the change you seek."

But as one of the first hires, Alex knew from early on that Slack alone wasn't enough for a company that needed to record and refine their processes as they grew. They needed a documentation system that everyone could follow and use.

Their challenge: creating engaging documentation that provides value for employees

Alex has always been the documentation evangelist at OneUp. As a self-professed "documentation nerd," he already knew the value of structuring ideas and knowledge.

On the team level, he saw right away the downside of lack of documentation. There was no onboarding guide, and new hires were thrown into tasks and teams without any context of what they were working on or why.

So he set out to do just that, by signing up for Confluence. But he soon saw that having an ineffective documentation system was just as bad, or worse as having no documentation at all.

Confluence was slow and "felt old." Pages took a long time to load. Templates were not useful for creating new docs. Employees didn't want to use it.

In Alex's words: "Writing documentation is a very friction-intensive process. You need to make it as easy as possible to write it."

Eventually, he came across Slite. Writing docs in Slite was easy. It was easy to get everyone on board. And it was easy to keep knowledge fresh and up to date.

"We really loved how modern, how sleek, how quick the experience was," he says.

How Slite helps OneUp Sales smooth out operations as the company matures

OneUp Sales has been using Slite for roughly a year, and they now use it for all their documentation needs. It helps keep things organized at a high company level, and for individual departments and teams.

How they organize their knowledge base

There are two main ways in which docs are created and used in OneUp's Slite:

  • For company-wide meetings
  • For each department

For the first type of documentation, OneUp follows a system called EOS — entrepreneurial operating system— based around a structured meeting at the start of every week. In this meeting, the team reviews issues, generates to-dos, and goes over key metrics. All of this key info is prepared ahead of time and dropped in Slite Collections that everyone can see. This prep-work keeps meetings short and makes it easy for everyone to get up to speed.

Keeping a record of the past evolutions the company has been through has helped them remind themselves of where they are headed.

For department channels, each team follows the same structure (adapted from the Divio model). This sorts their documents into the following categories:

  • References:  Like a Wikipedia page, references simply define what something is and how it works.
  • Explanations: Explanations are long-form documents that provide context for decisions, events, and strategies that have occurred in the history of the company.
  • Tutorials: Tutorials are general educational documents designed to help employees learn certain skills
  • How-tos:  How-tos are specific step-by-step guides for single processes, ie.  "How to set up your environment," or "How to run a product spec meeting."

Alex's Product team is meticulous about keeping everything in Slite. They put roadmaps and pitches, interview notes, and weekly plans. They use Sketches, Kanban boards, and Collections to tie everything together.

"It kind of allows us to have a home where we work," he says.

Results: Positive change at an organization level

OneUp has seen several positive changes since they implemented Slite a little over a year ago.

Better onboarding

After the first new hires suffered through what Alex called "rough" onboarding, they now have a highly-documented process for starting off on the right foot.

"[New hires] have 30, 60, 90 day plans. We host their one-to-ones. We generally get incredibly positive feedback about how it was really easy to find all the information by the end of the first week. They felt like they understood the company and how it worked and the individual departments," he said.

More async communication

Teams that used to hold several meetings or Slack all day are now turning to asynchronous communication via docs and doc comments instead.

"People can go in and answer questions that don't require immediate attention, on their own time," Alex observed. "Obviously the benefit of that is a reduction in the amount of lost time coming out of focus or out of flow, and then going back into flow. I'd say that's a big advantage."

More deep thinking

Perhaps the most nuanced result, documentation via Slite has helped shift the mindset of employees, especially engineers who are used to shipping products fast.

"I feel like it's making people think deeper about what they're working on," Alex said. "Especially in engineering, we've really pushed it. And what we've seen is people don't just make decisions. They actually want to document the reason why they made the decision. When you write out your thought process, you can critically think about why have we done something? I think that's a massive advantage."

For developers themselves, it can even unlock career development by forcing them to present and defend their work.

What other teams can learn from OneUp's documentation journey

As a small company that's been through several phases of documentation already, they have plenty of wisdom to share with others who are just getting started.

He recommends the following:

  • Incentivize people to write quality documents by showing instant value. In Slite, that includes using Slite Ask. The more up-to-date, detailed, and clear your documents are, the more accurate Ask's answers will be.
  • Empower everyone to be a documentation expert. When they first started with Slite, Alex hosted a lunch-and-learn to show fellow employees how to document their work. When people saw how docs could save time, and prevent people from asking the same questions over and over again, they were sold.  
  • If you can, appoint a  knowledge manager. Over time, documentation can get cluttered and messy. It's a natural part of content maturity. If you get to a point where your documentation is too much, try hiring or appointing a knowledge manager. While everyone can and should feel empowered to write docs, sometimes a little management keeps those docs tidy, fresh, and clear for readers.

Motivation is key

For OneUp, documentation has had a learning curve just like every other process they've developed. But as they move into a new phase of their startup journey, documentation has proved more valuable than ever to everyone on the team. The visible results, from time saved to instant insights, to better deep thinking, keeps them motivated to carry on.  

Your team can benefit from documentation, too. Book a demo here.

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