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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are two main ways in which docs are created and used in OneUp's Slite:
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:
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.
OneUp has seen several positive changes since they implemented Slite a little over a year ago.
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.
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."
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.
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:
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.
Melanie Broder is on the Marketing team at Slite, where she works on all things content. She helps Slite users gain new skills through guides, templates, and videos. She lives in New York City, where she likes to read novels and run loops around Central Park.
Clara Rua is on the Design team at Slite. She juggles with all the Slite's brand codes to make our values and beliefs come to life in illustrations, projects, and visuals, amonst other things. You can find her cycling, surfing, pottery making, jump-roping, yoga-ing from the south of France to the Moroccan west coast.