Five years ago when I joined the Parkway team, it was only Rob, Chris and I. We printed a paper folder to track time and expenses for each of our projects and yelled down the hall when someone had a phone call. Fast forward to 2021, we are now a flourishing team of eight and things look a little (okay, a lot) different! As exciting as our growth has been, there hasn’t been a single respite from growing pains. As the three of us learned how to work together and eventually, our team grew, our need for organization became apparent.
The biggest obstacle we faced as a team wasn’t fixing our processes, but creating them. Starting from scratch allowed our team to create systems that worked specifically for our needs. Here are some practices we’ve used over the last six years that have kept us moving in the right direction.
Choosing to go digital might seem like the obvious choice these days, but would you believe me when I told you I interviewed for a web design agency that didn’t have a website? Simply put, we’ve always had plenty of growth opportunities. Moving all of our files and information to digital and paying for unlimited Google storage means that we never have to worry about losing or deleting our work. It also saves time when sharing files between team members.
If you didn’t make the move to digital before COVID, you probably did at some point during the pandemic. We highly suggest that you upgrade your file system if you’re still saving paper somewhere.
Standard Operating Procedures
SOPs are a step-by-step list of how to complete a task from start to finish. Thankfully, Rob’s brain is built for this type of work. He implemented the idea of SOPs and if we’re being totally honest, the team wasn’t too excited. Now, we aren’t sure how we lived without them!
When Parkway had only a few employees, the tasks were easy to distribute. With a team of eight, we have to be strategic. If someone is out of the office or facing a large to-do list, the SOPs allow anyone on the team to step in and help them complete the task. This ensures our clients are still receiving the customer service they’ve come to rely on at Parkway.
We went through several platforms before discovering what worked best for the Parkway team. Our top choices to stay connected these days are Monday and Slack. Working within a hybrid system, Slack allows us to message each other quickly without clogging up one another’s inboxes. You can also set your status to alert your colleagues of your whereabouts – lunch, working from home, in a meeting, etc.
The more we lean into Monday, the more benefits we reap. Automations were helpful as multiple team members work simultaneously on projects. A notification of your choice lets you know when a task is coming down the pipeline. This has improved our project timelines overall. One thing we still work on? Relying completely on the platform. We’re all guilty of completing smaller tasks outside of Monday but our team is at its best when all details are up-to-date and recorded.
Implementing a quarterly review for the team to touch base on big and small tasks has helped us to align our efforts and our goals. It guarantees that our own needs get attention, too. This has been especially helpful for internal team tasks. Remember “the cobblers children have no shoes?” It turns out that’s true for most industries! Our check-ins have kept the Parkway brand fresh and updated, aligned our short and long-term goals, and kept the team on the same page throughout the years.
Stick With It
In addition to making organization a priority, many of our team members have dedicated time to learn more about it. Chris and Rob are graduates of UB’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Taylor and I have also graduated from Leadership Buffalo programs. New ideas and team roles, optimism and flexibility have allowed us to continuously evolve the company. We’ve been fortunate to add team members dedicated to Parkway’s growth along the way and it’s all added up to a company we’re proud to call home.
Organization wasn’t always our top priority but we realize now that there’s no excuse for it not to be. Staying organized is a simple idea for some to adopt. But beware—others might be slow to join in. Start by making small changes that you can build on as additional tools and skills become available to you. If you plan on scaling your business, staying organized won’t just be a choice but a downright need!