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How Nomio uses Notion

Notion is a writing tool that makes reading, writing and organisation easy. At Nomio, Notion is integral to our internal processes: whether it's tracking our sales pipeline, reviewing a technical design or booking a holiday, it's all done in Notion. (And yes, this article has been drafted in Notion!)

Our Product & Engineering team have used Notion to organise their work since 2019. One benefit of using Notion over purpose-built task management tools like JIRA is that you have to build everything from scratch: this encourages us to keep our process lean, and to question every part of the process. We regularly review our process and throw away anything that doesn't help us keep our work organised.

In this article, I'd like to illustrate how we currently manage our Product & Engineering work, and explain some of the decisions we made along the way. Hopefully this can be an inspiration for your own work management process!

What We Do

At Nomio, we've got two sizes of work: tasks and projects.

Tasks

Tasks are the basic unit of work in the Product & Engineering team. We keep them as small as we can, so we can regularly feel progress — this could be anywhere between a few minutes' and a few days' work.

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Take a look at our actual product task list above: tasks travel from left to right, gaining detail as it goes along.

Tasks start in the Backlog. Anyone in the company can create a task, and we provide templates to ensure we get as much detail into the task as we can.

Once a week, the Product & Engineering team review every task in the Backlog — this stops tickets from going stale and never getting worked on.

Tasks with enough detail are accepted; otherwise, we determine what we need before we can accept the work and assign the ticket to someone.

When a task is accepted, it is also given a priority: this is a combination of two factors:

  • Value: how important is this to stakeholders? Is this a critical bug, or is this a "nice to have" design tweak?
  • Effort: how long do we think it will take to do?

In general, low-effort/high-value tasks are done before high-effort/low-value tasks.

Tasks are listed in priority order: when an engineer is ready to work on something new, they'll take the top task from the list and work on that. This straightforward framework means we work on the most impactful things first.

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Above is an example of a task. Tasks are given enough detail for any engineer to work on. Tasks are given a priority when accepted, which is based on the value to the stakeholder and the roughly-estimated effort required by the Engineering team.

Once done, tasks are usually tied one-to-one with a pull request, which allows us to keep track of what we're going to deploy.

Projects

Sometimes work is bigger than a single task — for that, we have projects, which are simply groups of tasks.

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Above you can see our actual project list. As with tasks, projects can be written by anyone. Often a task gets turned into a project as it gets scoped out and we realise that there's more work to do than first thought.

We've got three basic "time buckets", which communicate with the rest of the company when we expect things to be worked on:

  • Now: projects that we're currently working on.
  • Soon: projects that we'll work on once we have the capacity to.
  • Later: projects that require extra detail, or aren't a high enough priority to work on soon.

Within these buckets, projects are manually ordered by priority and reviewed each week by the team to ensure we're ready to work on the next project.

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Above is an example of a project. Projects contain enough detail to explain the problem and to outline a potential solution.

What We Like (and What We Don't)

  • Hopefully you can see that the process we have isn't very complicated; however, it detailed enough for us to be productive. This is something we love at Nomio — a precision tool designed for the exact problem.
  • By implementing our process in Notion, we're able to change it very quickly.
  • We do still struggle to communicate when work is going to be done: the project and task list is visible to everyone in the company, but doesn't give a concrete statement like "This project will be completed in two weeks' time". This is deliberate — our priorities change regularly — but we may look into sprints in the future to help the rest of the business understand what's being worked on.

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