Arkus, Inc. is a 100% GTD® company, and we use OmniFocus Pro for Mac and iOS as the corporate standard to successfully manage thousands of internal and external projects. Here is how we do it.
Building a Better Business
I am one of the co-founders of Arkus, a Salesforce consulting partner since 2010. In the last eight years, we have grown from just three founders to a team of over thirty, completing over a thousand external projects for more than 400 clients. One of the not-so-secret keys to our success is building the company and culture on the core tenets of Getting Things Done® (GTD®) — and using OmniFocus Pro for productivity.
At Arkus it’s our job to bring success to our clients, and one of our core principles in doing so is productivity. When we founded Arkus, the other two co-founders and I were already practitioners of David Allen’s GTD®, so when we hired our first summer intern, it felt only natural to hand him a copy of the book and suggest he read it.
As the team grew over the years, we started building GTD® and OmniFocus more and more into our practices and procedures. First we provided the software, and then built it into the onboarding process. Later we implemented recorded workshops and help sessions to embrace the practice, and to slowly build it into a skill.
Training The Team in OmniFocus Pro
Today every new employee is given a copy of Getting Things Done®, along with a license for the latest release of OmniFocus Pro on both Mac and iOS. New “Arkies,” as we call them, are asked to read the book as one of their very first onboarding tasks. Soon after, they begin to practice the methods outlined in the book by capturing and managing commitments in OmniFocus, synchronizing across their devices with Omni Sync Server.
OmniFocus Pro is a corporate standard, alongside G Suite for calendaring and email and Salesforce for CRM. We run a training program called Arkus Boot Camp (ABC) to get people up to speed, which includes hundreds of tasks to test and improve each trainee’s consulting, Salesforce, and project management skills. GTD® and OmniFocus play a large part in ABC. I personally host initial one-on-one sessions to introduce the tool and offer individual coaching as employees get up to speed. While some are overwhelmed when they first pick up GTD® or first open OmniFocus, many come to embrace and maintain the practice even beyond Arkus. Since everyone uses Omni Sync Server, they can take their GTD® practice with them when they leave.
Smarter Tools and Task Management
Arkus is a distributed company where employees work all over the country, so keeping a community culture, as well as having a place to go for information, is very important. We have a GTD® Slack channel where we discuss OmniFocus tips and host periodic workshops, to keep everyone up to speed on newly released OmniFocus features. Since everyone is an OmniFocus user, employees can collaborate and lean on each other for quick answers or tips. We have also built a living document in Google Docs to capture OmniFocus tricks, tips, and updates, and as a place to start. Ask a question in Slack, get a great answer, and pay the #QuestionTax by adding it to the document.
Since everyone uses the same tools, all our internal process documentation refers to creating projects and tasks in OmniFocus, bolstered by screenshots and examples. Our experience is that GTD® is easier to implement if everyone is using the same tool.
I often make the analogy of being at a company where everyone uses a different calendaring system or a different CRM; both, of course, seem ludicrous. Almost every company provides corporate email, calendar and CRM, so why not provide a best-in-class productivity tool?
OmniFocus Core to Process
Since all of our employees are juggling a lot of projects, both personally and professionally, we train them to use the power of OmniFocus Quick Entry to capture everything throughout the day. We use the Forecast view to drill down on the tasks of the day, emails to follow-up on, calls to make, or configuration to complete.
At the end of the week we use all the custom perspectives to dive into our weekly review and planning for the next week, making sure nothing slips by and we can create that clear space.
While it can take time and effort to get people up-and-running with GTD® and OmniFocus, everyone on the Arkus team comes to understand the concepts of projects, outcome thinking, and the natural planning model. We find the methodology alone is only so helpful: to really get the work done the right tool is critical, and we believe the best work is done using the best tool. That is why everyone uses OmniFocus Pro.
Continuing education supports people not only using the tool but becoming power and expert users. Take a look at the Slack channel, and you’ll find posts about quick keys, repeating projects, and effective use of tags. There are even GTD® and OmniFocus custom Slack emojis in there for good measure. Making the investment in our employees in both training and tools is what has helped us grow and deliver success to our clients.
To learn more about my GTD® and OmniFocus story, and how both are used at Arkus to ensure our clients are successful, listen to this recent interview I did with David Allen for his GTD® podcast. I am also the co-host of CloudFocus Weekly and we do a yearly GTD® Summer Series with lots of good content. If you would like to connect with Arkus, you can find out more about us at our website or on the Salesforce AppExchange. You can also connect with me on Twitter: @JasonMAtwood.