Notion in Action and at Scale
Operational value for 60 FTE serving 200+ Clients
Last Updated: April 14, 2023
Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes
Businesses, as they grow, require an organizational operating system that serves their needs today and is capable of growing to serve their needs tomorrow. Notion State specializes in building intelligent operating systems in Notion, and our efforts for airCFO centered around exactly this, workspace design, application development, and workflow standardization and enhancement. By taking a comprehensive approach to designing airCFO's Notion database architecture, creating core applications, and standardizing workflows, Notion State built a smarter operating system that enabled easier access to data, streamlined communications, and transparent individual and department program management. The result was significant cost savings for airCFO and an operating system that will support its future growth.
As businesses grow, they often struggle to keep up with the demands of managing their operations. This was the case for airCFO, a startup that at the time had 40 employees and 120 clients. With their sights set on significant growth, they required an organizational operating system that could standardize and largely automate their tasks and could scale with them. However, their existing Notion architecture was confusing, had nuanced workflows, and low adoption rates. This led to bad or in some cases disappearing data and unused workflows. All of this operational debt put together drove increased operating expenses and lower employee satisfaction.
Enter Notion State, a company that specializes in building intelligent operating systems in Notion. Notion State was brought on to be airCFO’s Chief Notion Office. Notion State drove efforts at airCFO centered around three main activities: workspace design, application development, and workflow standardization and enhancement.
We took a comprehensive approach to understanding airCFO's existing databases. Our team audited the existing functionality, interviewed users to understand what they were doing and what they wanted, and developed a deep understanding of the aspirational use cases. Based on this information, we designed a database architecture that could support both their current needs and future state aspirations.
We then morphed their existing system into the future state while maintaining the integrity of historical data and data in use. This was a critical step to ensure a seamless transition and uninterrupted workflow. Our efforts resulted in an underlying infrastructure that was intuitive and capable of building airCFO's desired applications at scale. By taking this comprehensive approach, we were able to build a database architecture that not only met airCFO's immediate needs but also had the flexibility to evolve with their business.
After interviewing their users, we understood what they needed and wanted. We designed, built, and deployed core applications within airCFO's Notion workspace to manage and operate their internal operations. The core applications Notion State has deployed to date:
- Company Intranet Homepage: Centralizing core information and links in a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing way, we build airCFO’s company landing page. This is the first page everyone sees when they open up their Notion Workspace every day. It is the first page new hires are presented to understand the level of organization airCFO brings to their teams and their clients. This intranet page is every airCFO employee’s jumping point to all core areas of their workspace.
- Operating System Dashboards: We centralized department, team, and individual information into operating system dashboards. These dashboards were designed to provide quick access to essential information and facilitate communication and collaboration between teams. We brought in information from configured database views from airCFO's core horizontal databases, such as projects and tasks, meeting notes, and clients. The operating system dashboards were built to enable easy access to data and information, streamlined communications, and transparent individual and program management.
- OKR Manager: We deployed an OKR Manager to facilitate the planning, ongoing maintenance, and communication of OKR progress, and the tracking and result gathering of the OKRs. We facilitated planning in the OKR manager and ensured each airCFO lead updated and communicated progress and blockers through this application. We also facilitated review meetings within the OKR Manager.
- Financial and Operational Reporting Dashboard: We built financial and operational reporting dashboards that connected Google Studio with Notion to embed dashboard views to review reporting data on department, team, and individual profitability. The dashboard was designed to help airCFO understand performance and make decisions on changes the organization needed to make.
These applications were designed, built, and deployed within airCFO's Notion workspace, enabling easy access to data and information, streamlined communications, and transparent individual and program management. By deploying these applications, we were able to create a comprehensive operating system that enabled airCFO to manage and operate its internal operations more efficiently and effectively.
Workflow Standardization and Enhancement
Our final activity is not so final, it is an ever-evolving activity that we have observed to become more valuable over time, as airCFO’s team continues to adopt the tool. This activity is centered around workflow standardization and enhancement, where we focus on streamlining airCFO's operations by creating intelligent workflows within their workspace. We leverage database templates to scale applications by utilizing self-referential fields and pre-configured database views. By doing so, we were able to standardize workflows such as client onboarding, new hire onboarding, customer success client escalations, repricing exercises, and client management. We also leverage database templates to standardize meeting agendas and note collection for 1:1 meetings, group meetings, and client meetings.
We placed an emphasis on simplifying execution for menial tasks by leveraging these pre-built workflows to standardize execution. This approach allowed us to build the system for the workflows, rather than fitting workflows to the system. The result was cleaner data, time saved on every repeated task, and a standardized model for airCFO's clients to interact with airCFO employees, driving consistent and reliable delivery.
While Notion State’s efforts have driven significant value for airCFO, adoption was and continues to be a challenge for airCFO. To address this, we embedded tech tip segments into all stand-ups and all-hands meetings, built a tech tips newsletter aggregating all new Notion features, tips, and tricks, and created video walkthroughs for all core workflows, building a workflow library and embedding these educational materials in the workflow templates. These efforts drove significant adoption and resulted in a value of $6-8k per month in savings for airCFO.
By building a smarter operating system, Notion State enabled easier access to data and information, streamlined communications, and transparent individual and program management. The 10-15 minutes saved per day per employee resulted in significant cost savings for airCFO. Furthermore, airCFO now has an operating system that will support its evolution from 100 clients to 400 and 40 practitioners to 140.