Leveraging Asana to Implement Data-driven Process Improvements in the Product Development Lifecycle

“My customer’s application is broken. Can you please help.” 
“Real quote from an Account Manager” 

When I first moved from a Technical Architect to a Sr. Solutions Manager in 2022 anyone could (and would) send messages to the Solutions department: Email, Salesforce, direct message on Slack, public messages on Slack channels, and even peer-to-peer direct messages via texst/sms. This, understandably, created an environment bereft of tracking and organization, ultimately leading to frustrated clients and team members.

Our Solution: Asana

Begin with clear goals.

Goal 1: Determine clear ways the Solutions department helps the rest of the company

In a department called “solutions”, it was easy for us to get distracted by any perceived “problem”, as we lacked clear prioritization. Onboarding new team members only compounded the problem, as one-on-one training proved challenging with no clear understanding of our purpose *as* a team.

Goal 2: Empower colleagues to become more self-enabled

I implemented a multi-tiered training program and portal for colleagues based on skill level that empowered them to, based on prioritized “problems”, take it upon themselves to implement solutions. We created an in-depth Solutions Portal and Knowledge Base with thorough checklists, training courses, and access to subject matter experts; this had the added benefit of both increasing the skillset of the team *while also* creating resources to give to clients, helping them become better informed on using our tools.

Goal 3: Consolidate. Automate. Analytics 

Fundamentally we needed to consolidate requests to “one source of truth”, automating requests into categories *with prioritization* and tracking. Then over time we were able to develop analytics across dozens of request types *and* optimize task assignment based on team member (and client) skill level. This had a dramatic impact on the overall profitability of the department and overall customer satisfaction, as we were able to pair knowledgeable solutions engineers with knowledgeable clients to solve high-value problems.

And happy clients means more purchase orders.

Goal 1: Determine clear ways the Solutions department helps the rest of the company 

I/we created a standardized list of ways that the department helped the rest of the company. I used one select field so that I could create user journeys for each request type. 

Request types should be concise, clear, and easily understood.

Goal 2: Enabling colleagues to be self-enabled
Back to how this all began: “It’s broken; who is going to fix it?”

On a long enough timeline turnover both on the client side *and* in our technical and solutions teams, it was vital that we created a system that enabled all parties to quickly define their problem and to quickly find a solution, which had the added benefit of helping the company and clients understand the role of the Solutions Department.

We were able to do this with clear user journeys via Asana. And it fundamentally changed for the better client success and company profitability.

Further, I wrote articles on the Acquia dev portal, linked them in the form and laid out common client and colleague questions. I linked to Drupal modules, internal documentation and other ways that would help my colleagues to sound educated when talking to a customer, either resolve the issue themselves, and most importantly understand there is little anyone can do to help an email that says, “It’s broken.” 

And now, data.

Consolidate. Automate. Analytics. 

Nothing is more powerful in the decision making matrix than a deep reservoir of data across all aspects of the technical solutions process.

I used Asana’s API and pulled the data into our BI tool DOMO. It’s an understatement, but Asana’s API documentation is amazing. It is a cross of variable data and postman in their own system.  I love it. 

What their REST API gave was the ability track fields automatically consolidated into real data. As a team, we decided where and how we spent our time by correlating time spent to money  spent on implementation services and company wide initiatives. 

Even something as seemingly insignificant as creating a new logo - a company initiative - I was ablet o define all the types of requests our team spent on towards that goal, the man hours involved, and the actual real costs for that task.

And this applied to *all* solutions initiatives and how they fit into our companies DXP mission.

Further, I could also prove to the Sales team that addressing opportunities with a technical resource gave the company an 80% successful close rate. 

And this because the real benefit of the new system: using real-time data to direct team efforts; making data-driven decisions, and being transparent about what efforts are cost effective and which are not.

Simply put:

  • Running a 300 person department successfully.
  • Having a clear understanding of time/effort allocation
  • Having a clear understand of where time/effort has maximum impact for the client and for company profitability.

Sample PS Open Solutions Request Summary

In Conclusion
My passion is in using digital tools to improve team efficiency towards a shared goal. Further, I love using those tools to help *define* those goals. This is my passion because I firmly believe that clear goals with a well-defined process makes for a happy, motivated team and happy, grateful clients.