Last week I showed you how I shape my remote interview process to select the best candidates from a wide pool of applicants. I explained how it looks like from the CTO/interviewer perspective, and how you can prepare for each stage, as a candidate.
Today I'll tell you about the tools I use in my remote teams, and how I use each of them.
These are 7 SaaS tools that are core to my async-first processes:
Notion is my teams' long term memory documentation. For big and small things like:
• Feature specs
• Status updates
• Release plans
Any text-based collaborative workflows go on Notion. We contribute async, and tag others for input.
I also use Notion a lot on a personal level, either as a CRM, a todo list, sharing docs with clients, or for small projects with freelancers and ghost writers. The collaboration flow is basically the same that I use on a team setup.
Miro is an extension of Notion for any non-text-based stuff. Such as:
• Ideation and roadmapping
• User journeys and interaction maps
• Process workflow and such visual documentation
• Anything that demands a "white board"
Miro boards are linked in Notion, and referred to as an integral part of the documentation.
Miro is also very powerful for presentations, either within the team or externally to clients, vendors or investors. It's visual DNA, the ready-to-use templates and the flexibility to use it as a "white board on steroids" make it better than a standard powerpoint/slides presentation.
Loom is used to record screen and share with colleagues. Such as:
• Feature demos
• Bug reports
• Onboarding materials
• Anything that we'd "show on a quick meeting" we record on Loom
Loom recordings are also linked in Notion, and/or Miro, to illustrate certain points with a screenshare or video explainer. These videos avoid over-writing, as the saying goes, sometimes "an image is worth a thousand words".
I've also been using Loom increasingly for internal and external presentations, such as training materials, product demos and other sticky docs that are better suited in video format.
I've historically used Atlassian Jira for most of my daily work with tech teams, but recently I've been using Linear in some clients and I find it a refreshing simpler version of Jira.
I use either of these tools for transactional task level stuff within the team, such as:
• Feature specs from Notion are broken into Jira/Linear tickets
• Tickets are picked by team members
• Integration with Github for PR review and dependency visualisation
• Integration with Slack for QA and regression "nudges"
I don't like to over-engineer the Jira epics with too much context. Instead, I keep any epic-level sticky context in Notion, and use Jira/Linear only for the granular tasks already broken down and assigned to team members.
Github hosts all code base and any code-related documentation, such as:
• Code repos
• CI / CD pipelines
• PR reviews
• Readmes and such technical docs
• Integration with Jira for upwards PR visibility and reminders
• Integration with Slack for PR review "nudges"
The thing I like the most about Github is that almost all Software Developers I hire have decent experience with it. Most have used it in previous companies, and even juniors have used it to some extent for open source or in their previous academic studies. Makes up for a very easy onboarding.
Note that these tools until number 5 are all almost 100% async. The workflows happening there don't require meetings nor instant feedback.
Now, there are exceptions that require live communication. And the remaining 2 tools fill that gap:
I have an obvious love-hate relationship with Slack. While it's very convenient to message someone to help out, it's also a big risk that people in my teams will only do that instead of thoughtfully use documentation and async tools.
There are two main uses to Slack:
i The communication central, for both sync and async stuff. Info should be shared using Notion links. Slack is not a long term memory!
ii A notifications central. Tags on Github, Jira and Notion should trigger slack notifications.
I wrote at length here about how I use Slack, and how I leverage Notion to store context from Slack conversations.
I've used Zoom for a few years, but recently there have been some product related frustrations. It's increasingly a cost to cut in most of my teams, and we've been switching to Google Meet one by one.
Zoom or Google Meet is used for the 5-10% of processes that ends up requiring a meeting.
• Meetings start with the Notion/Miro on the screen
• That pre-work makes meeting more efficient
• Meetings are targeted around a specific discussion item that couldn't be done async
For the remaining 90% or so of the workflows, I try to keep them async, which means without jumping on meetings. This is how I actively reduce meetings in my remote teams.
These async processes and the tools I use to implement them in my remote teams are a core part of my course Mastering Remote Work
Thanks for reading this newsletter until the end. You can read all past editions here. Make sure to share the link with your friends and colleagues so they can read it too.
See you next Friday,
Startup CTO & Remote Work Lover