April 22, 2019

Excited to find indie hackers, would love to hear more on the problems smaller teams face in terms of collaboration

Currently, a friend and I are working on a project that is primarily a problem we face. There is no collaboration tool that is designed for small teams.
Most of the times we have to at least use 3 tools to go from brainstorming to execution and from the 50 or so interviews we had with remote teams this seemed like the case. The most popular tool flow out there is Slack for chat, google drive for doc collaboration, and trello for task lists.

My friend and I were working on an accounting app. We used slack for general discussions, Email for weekly updates, Loomio for team decisions, Trello for keeping track of who is doing what, I used used workflowy to organise my own todos, zoom for meetings, google calendar to schedule the meetings, I think there are a few more but you get where I am going.
Keeping track of all of the different notifications got a bit ridiculous and things started slipping through the cracks so we eventually switched to Basecamp. Which is fantastic. But it's overkill for such a small team (2 of us were core team and another 2 people that help out now and then). Only four of their modules were active at the peak of it.

I would love to chat with small teams out here at indie hackers and understand the problems they face in terms of collaboration?
Also if the idea doesn't interest you, I'd love to just share that our goal is to learn from some of the stories here from indie hackers, we're most committed to making this a niche tool in collaboration. Why is this important? Most collaboration tools start out good but then start serving enterprises as VC's drive them for profits. I think only doist and basecamp have stayed out of that loop, though basecamp is heavily focused on project management.

Our problem was that if we want to get anything done with someone online we have to employ a small army of apps to keep track of things.

We then started researching what would be the ideal tool for minimum viable collaboration, and it seemed like we could isolate 4 different core tasks

  1. A real time discussion module. I hate slack. I hate the constant interruptions. I hate that important stuff gets lost in the noise. But I acknowledge that chats are important. If you have a quick question about something or if you're all online at the same time, you don't need to start an email chain. In my opinion chat is good as long as it now where the important stuff happens. To hammer this point home we only store the last 100 messages in our chat module. That way there's never too much to catch up on, but always enough to understand the context of what's being discussed. If something important happens in chat you move it to an asynchronous discussion.
  2. An asynchronous decision module. This is a lot like chat but it's not a streaming feed of general thought, discussions are focused around specific topics. If someone raises a good point in chat, you can turn it into a decision. Decisions live in a separate module, everyone can see what the current important group decisions are. You can read through the discussion on a decision and contribute to it in your own time. The only rule is that a decision must have options that people can vote on and the decision must be concluded by a certain date. So, "should we do x" could be a decision where "Yes/No" are the options, and the deadline is a week from today. The wording of a decision can evolve as the discussion around it unfolds and people can add options (Yes/No/ Yes, but only if Y). People can change their votes as many times as they want before the deadline, and they can extend the deadline, but once a decision is made it must be converted into at least one task. Discussions here have context. Most apps we see in the space loose the context of discussion very quickly.
  3. Tasks. This module is just lists of tasks. You can assign tasks to people, set deadlines and mark them complete. Shows everyone who is working on what and what needs to be done.
  4. Static documents. The header of this one page page would be a 500 word summary of what the project is about to help orientate new people. A collection of important project links, and a space where you can upload important documents. These documents are the things your team is producing. So if your team was setup to create a policy document, this is where drafts of the document go. If you are making a website, then you link to it in the important links. Basically, the fruits of all your labour.

The two main modules that we discarded were Video Calls and a Calendar.
We decided not to go with either because the effort-to-reward ratio wasn't high enough. Video calls are important but they also waste a lot of time if you don't have a clear agenda set. They are also expensive, a 3 person 1-hour meeting costs the project 3 hours. They are also tricky to set up if everyone is in different timezones. If a video call once a week is important to your team then just add a zoom link to the important links section.
Calendars are notoriously hard to build and we're not sure how important they are. We do have deadlines in the app for tasks and decisions. Maybe it would just be wiser to create an 'add to your calendar' link to things if you want to keep track of them on your own calendar. I acknowledge they are important but ultimately we decided that they weren't important enough.

I'm not sure though if we've hit a sweet spot in terms of a niche or a product and so would love to hear which communities are underserved in terms of collaboration tools, we're open to retrofitting additional features for a specific community. We have a landing page at tinyteam.io if this is of any interest to you guys :)

#landing-page-feedback

  1. 1

    It's called asana.com :)

    1. 1

      does Asana take care of document management ? Or real time discussions ? I'm not sure but the last I used asana, it was more of a task manager with a lot of features centered around task management

  2. 1

    Working in teams is hard. We want to make it easier!

    Change it to the active:

    Teamwork is hard. Let's make it easier.

    1. 1

      Thanks for this. Will make these changes :)