How Nonprofit Leaders Can Increase Efficiency
For a small nonprofit, increasing efficiency is critical to keep profitability high. But as leaders, this can be tricky as we try to foster a safe and forgiving environment while knowing that we still need to implement a method for the madness. Finding a balance between flexibility and structure for your nonprofit team is challenging. At Strat Labs, we’ve implemented two simple systems that have helped create efficient processes for our team while empowering them to take ownership of their work.
Before we get started, for this to work, all team members must adopt these processes, trust in them, and believe in them. It’s always best to position these systems as vital processes that honor your team’s time and the goals you’ve set as an organization for the year. Instead of laying this down as law, be honest with each of your team members and let them know things will be changing, but you want to create a safe space and are entirely open to adjusting processes to serve all parties better.
System #1: Sprint Planning
At Strat Labs, we implement a project management system centered around efficiency called: Sprint Planning. The Agile SCRUM method, the umbrella ideology that created Sprint Planning, was developed in 2001 and is a widely adopted technique in the business and engineering industries. Sprint planning aims to define what can be delivered in the sprint (one week) and how the team will divide and achieve that work. Sprint planning is done in collaboration with the whole team, so everyone has visibility.
How To Do Sprint Planning?
- The initial concept is simple:
- Document Every Task Your Team Works On
- Estimate The Time Each Task Will Take
- Example: (2hr) Research & Write Grant Application Draft
- Then you’ll need:
- One Weekly Sprint Planning Call
- This should be a primary internal touchpoint, where the team will count up all the tasks they’ve been assigned and then prioritize, discuss, and brainstorm on tasks that must be tackled during that week and move the rest.
- One Weekly Sprint Planning Call
Why Do We Do Sprint Planning?
- Honor our team members’ hourly commitment and ensure they are taking on only what they can reasonably complete.
- Identify and justify hiring needs by seeing when team workloads have reached capacity.
- Help our organization understand our current capacity and set realistic goals and expectations.
- Hold team members accountable for the work they have on their plate for the week, as we don’t want tasks to overflow into the following week.
Sprint planning has become essential to help guide our decisions as an organization. It will offer an easy way to show your leadership team a bird’s eye view of how productive the team is, which could also be valuable to your board of directors.
System #2: Task Management Tool
If you haven’t been using a task management system, that’s okay, but that ENDS TODAY! There are a plethora of task management programs, maybe even too many, so there is no reason not to take advantage of these productivity tools. The purpose of the task management tool is to have a hub where all project-related tasks live and where our team can mainly communicate on project work. This tool helps us stay ahead and continue to be organized! We’ve used many before, but we currently use ClickUp.
How To Implement a Task Management Tool?
- Make sure all team members have access to the tool
- Start building the process of having tasks for everything your team does
- Make sure to add things like “time estimated” or what “project” the task belongs to to help with tracking and sprint planning later
- Set up a demo with your team to ensure everyone understands the new program
Why Do We Use a Task Management Tool?
- To have all action items in one place versus in personal notebooks or over email
- To set timelines to all action items, that will be honored or can be seen if the timelines are missed or moved
- To reflect and celebrate all the work being completed by the team
- Fun fact: on average, our team completes over 250+ tasks per week!
- To track whether our action items are leading to ROI for the organization
While being a flexible leader is critical, providing processes and structures that help your team be efficient and productive is also important. Especially as a small nonprofit organization, it can be vital to get these processes in place as soon as possible to ensure your team hits all your goals for the year.
If you are looking for help with organizational strategy for your marketing or development teams, Strat Labs knows a thing or two, and we want to help!