1. How we organize ourselves
In this section, we will share our basic organization at different levels. On one hand, we will talk about how we organize our work based on objectives. We will take it further by talking about what kind of meetings we hold to coordinate and organize our workflow and we will give you a glimpse into the way in which we organize a specific project.
On the team, we work around objectives. We distinguish four types of objectives according to their size: annual, quarterly, monthly and weekly.
We define these objectives following SMART principles, that is, they must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and defined by a specific time. Note that we use a different variant to the one established by George T. Doran. We substitute "assignable" by "attainable" and "realistic" by "relevant" since for us, it is fundamental that these objectives have an impact and bring us closer to the goals we want to achieve. In addition, it is essential that all objectives meet this criterion because it forces us to set aside aspirational objectives and reduce self-deceptive thinking and complacency.
Each time we define new objectives or update the previous ones, they are shared with all the members of the studio in order to make sure it is a fully participatory process. This allows us to be on the same page and share the vision of the studio.
Finally, we are clear that we live in times of constant change. Because of this, each quarter we review the annual objectives to both to see if we have lost focus and to update them based on any new needs that may have arisen. This allows us to act more quickly in the face of changes and to ensure that the annual objectives do not lose their meaning over time.
The annual targets are ambitious. Their function is to define where we want to be in a year. These objectives are related to our performance, value proposition, strategy, and competitive position.
With our annual objectives, we set clear goals but not the means of getting there. They are abstract, which is why we review them and specify them quarterly by means of smaller and measurable objectives.
Every three months, a meeting is held to define the objectives for the following quarter and their corresponding KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). At this meeting, we review whether we have met the previous quarter's objectives, analyze the current state of the company, and monitor the annual objectives to see if they need updating. With this analysis, we get a clearer picture of what we need to focus on and what data will determine whether we have met the goals we expected to achieve.
The monthly objectives exist to simplify the quarterly objectives, transforming these into actions to be carried out. At the beginning of each month, there is a meeting in which we organize the work, define the objectives for the month and establish priorities. The monthly planning helps us to have a broader vision than the weekly ones to avoid possible problems in the future and to optimize resources and time.
In the day–to–day of the studio, we work with weekly objectives coordinating interests and teams. To organize the different teams and projects we work with, we adopt the Scrum methodology, making sprint plannings, dailies, and retrospectives to manage both, each project and the team.
When it comes to meetings, we follow an agile methodology. We establish clear and direct objectives for each meeting, and in all cases, we avoid establishing committees. We consider "time" to be the most valuable thing and we take it seriously.
We have a weekly meeting in which the status of the projects are analyzed and the objectives and tasks needed to be completed are established.
A Meeting held on Mondays in which all team members are present. Here we analyze the current state of our active projects. This analysis includes:
- How did we do the previous week?
- How will we tackle the current week before us?
- Any roadblocks that may have arisen
Each project leader has a meeting with the team members who are part of the project. In this meeting, it must be determined which tasks on the Backlog are going to be completed in the upcoming Sprint, transferring these from Backlog to Sprint Backlog.
The "daily" is completed every day by all team members. The "daily" is a way of summarizing everything that has been done the previous day, the objectives for that day and any possible roadblocks that have arisen.
To do this, we use the Geekbot bot for Slack:
Geekbot allows us to complete the "daily" in a simple and asynchronous way, by means of 4 questions that are sent directly to the channel #daily of our Slack group. It asks you how you are, what was done the day before, what are the tasks set to be completed for the day and if you have found any roadblocks. This way of going about our "daily" gives us flexibility, because:
- Each member of the team can choose when to complete it.
- It is not necessary for the whole team to be present to complete it.
- By being able to access it easily within Slack, all team members will be aware of the dailies of their teammates.
Questions to complete the "daily"
To answer the questions, we use the template shown below, in order to unify the answers of all team members.
- What did you do yesterday?Project name 1✅ Task completed➕ The performed task that was not planned at the beginning of the previous day.❌ Task not completed (It should be explained why it was not completed to help inform the rest of the team)⚙️ A task in progress (only for long term tasks that cannot be divided up)Project name 2✅ ...
- What are you going to do today?Project name 1
Project name 2
- Tarea a realizar
- Task to be performed
- Task to be performed
- When will it be ready?As it is a "daily," all tasks that are scheduled for that day should be completed. However, there may be tasks that require more than one day to complete. This question gives us the opportunity to specify when we expect to finish them so that the project does not run into any roadblocks.
- Have you run into any roadblocks?Inform the team about any difficulties you have encountered the day before and contact those who might be able to help you out.
Retrospectives help us analyze the work that has been done and they help us get better by strengthening what has gone well and by focusing on what has gone wrong in order to propose ideas that will help us to solve it.
A meeting in which all the members of a project participate. The person responsible for each project is the one who must invite all the members participating in it to analyze what has gone well, what has gone wrong and how the project can be improved in the next sprint.
A meeting that takes place at the end of each month to distinguish which things have gone well to maintain and promote them and what went wrong to focus on solving and improving them. All team members will be present at the team retrospective.
We believe that having one person lead a project is very important when working on different projects simultaneously. Each of our projects depends on a leader to helps the project reach its fullest potential.
The project leader's responsibilities lie in supervising and coordinating the objectives, tasks and team members participating in the project. He or she is ultimately responsible for the project, it is coordination, and client affairs and is the one who sets up the meetings with the client to keep them informed on the project's current status. His or her role is fundamental.
The organization of the project is carried out by the team, and its management falls on the project leader. To coordinate the project and its tasks, we have tools such as Asana and Notion that allow us to document, organize and monitor each task.
Asana allows us to visualize the roadmap and the tasks of a project, while in Notion one can find all the necessary documentation to carry out the activities of a project.
Although there is a level of hierarchy in the studio, we try not to make it very apparent. Everyone involved in a project deals directly with the client to a greater or lesser extent. Transparency and horizontal transversality are two of the keys to our approach.
At the beginning of each project, a Kick-off meeting is held with the client's team, the person in charge of the project and the mendesaltaren members who will be participating in the project. This initial meeting establishes the business objectives to be achieved and what is expected of each member of the project. A clear roadmap is also shared.
When working with weekly sprints, it is normal to share our progress with the client on a week by week basis. This frequency may vary depending on the needs of the client and the project. It is very important to clearly define the objectives of a meeting or presentation, as well as making sure we stay on task. In this way, we will avoid ”Design by Committee” and waste the time of colleagues and stakeholders.
Usually, after each review with the client, it is time to take the feedback received and implement it.
Dropbox is the tool we use to manage a projects' files, deliverables, and resources needed to carry out a project.
The basic structure we use in Dropbox is the following:
- Studio In Studio you will find all the resources related to our studio.
- Projects Projects contain all active and completed projects that have been carried out by the studio.
- Resources Resources contain a broad collection of resources that can be useful in the design phase of projects, but they are not focused on any project in particular.
We document each project in a different folder. All projects follow the same naming system so they can be easily located:
[[id]_[NAME OF PROJECT]
- idProject numbering. The ids are generated from consecutive numbers, which are established according to the order in which the projects were started so that the oldest projects have a smaller number and the most recent have higher numbers. 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 ...
- Project NameThe name of the project normally corresponds to the name of the company. We always capitalize them and if it is a compound name we use spaces to separate the words.
All projects have the same structure and organization:
- 00_assets Elements relating to the brand.
- 01_product-definition Documentation related to the exploration and definition of the product.
- 02_product-design Files related to product design. Here one should find all the files and documentation for the UX (such as Information Architecture, User Personas, and Wireframes) to its visual design assets.
- 03_output It must contain all the files and documentation that is ready to be delivered to the client. Everything that has been delivered to the customer must be in this folder. These can be PDFs, instructions, Sketch files, videos, images, etc.
In order to have the files organized and to easily know its contents, we name them by making a reference to the path of their directory. This is the skeleton of our file naming system:
[id Project][Project Name][id file][file type][Platform]
- id Project + Project name To identify the folder and file path quickly.
- id file Corresponds to the id of the subfolder that contains it. For example: 00_for assets, 01_product-definition, 02_product-design, 03_output. We forget the name of the subfolder and use only the id.
- File type This corresponds with the specific phase in which the file is being carried out on: UI, UX, Design System, Branding, Prototype.
- Platform This corresponds to the platform for which it is being designed for: web (Desktop or Mobile) or app (iOS or Android).