How to Optimize Cross-Company Project Workflows With Unito

An illustration of a cross-company project workflow

You’ve found the perfect collaborator. It might be a huge new client, a newly-acquired team, or another company in your field. You’ve outlined your project, the budget is set, and your teams are ready to go. There’s just one problem. You can’t agree on what tool to use. Now you’re faced with either forcing yours on someone or finding a way to collaborate across platforms.

Neither of these solutions are great. Here are two examples showing this — as well as a better solution.

Collaborating with agency clients across different tools

An agency thrives on maintaining good relationships with its clients. Having to force the tool you use on a client isn’t great. The alternative is wasting someone’s time while they act as a middleman between platforms or relying on endless email chains.

The workflow without Unito

Let’s say you manage to convince your client that they should use your tool. Well done! You negotiated a tough sell. That’s because work management solutions are more than just an arbitrary choice; they’re often a matter of identity. So even though you got what you wanted, your contact might feel a bit resentful about losing out on their usual processes. Now you’ve got to spend valuable time training them on using your tool, answering their questions, and fixing any errors they make when they use a feature they’re not used to.

Alright, so what if you acquiesce and adopt theirs? Well, you’ll probably have to pay for seats in that tool for whoever will be working with the client. That might be a single person who’ll be a middleman between your team and the client or everyone on your team. Either way, there can be a steep learning curve as you figure out how to integrate this change into your regular workflow.

Now say the worst happens; you can’t agree and both decide to use what you’re familiar with. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to use a native integration like Trello’s Jira Power-Up to get insight into what’s going on across the no man’s land between your tools. But these integrations are only a window; you can’t interact with what you’re seeing. That means if you need to leave a comment for clarification in the client’s tool, you’ll have to use email or chat to communicate with them. That’s how emails go from quick check-ins to unwieldy chains with dozens of updates.

Where Unito comes in

With Unito, the “which tool are we using” conversation doesn’t even need to happen. Connect your different platforms and collaborate as if you were both using the same tool. Imagine how this looks on the client side? They tell you what tool they’re using, and instead of getting pushback, you can tell them “no problem, we have something for that.”

When you build your workflow in Unito, you create deep, two-way relationships between your tools. That means assignees, due dates, comments, and more all get carried over from one to the other. Instead of just getting a look into what’s going on with the other side, you get access to all the information you need from the comfort of your own tool.

Clients can get status updates without sending an email or getting a middleman involved. They can give their feedback from the interface and the environment they know. They don’t have to change their processes, and neither do you. You might even forget they’re working in a different tool.

Integrating an Asana project with a Trello board

For this example, we’ll deal with a digital marketing agency that needs to onboard a big client. The agency uses Trello for pretty much everything, from scheduling emails to building their editorial calendar. Meanwhile, the client lives in Asana.

The agency has built a Trello board specifically for this client, which we’ll call Example Incorporated. This board has columns for each aspect of the service they’re providing for Example Inc., from content marketing to paid advertising.

Meanwhile, Example Inc. has an Asana project dedicated to these marketing efforts. Some tasks on this board represent work done by internal marketers, but the bulk of the tasks will be for the agency.

One of the main things to take care of is making sure internal tasks in Asana don’t end up on the Trello board. Similarly, some cards on the Trello board don’t need to be visible to the client. That can be taken care of by setting up a rule that checks for labels on the Trello side and tags in Asana.

Finally, while the Trello board has columns for each marketing effort, the Asana project is set up in a simpler “planned,” “doing,” and “done” style. To make sure tasks in Asana move accordingly, we can customize field mappings so labels in Trello match up with Asana sections.

With all this set up, the agency can get to work, knowing they’ve given Example Inc. enough visibility on what they’re doing.

Integrating a newly-acquired team

Let’s say you run an enterprise-sized software company. You pride yourself on quick turnarounds for product updates and need to have your ear to the needs of your users. You had your eye set on a small startup with a product you want to add to your suite; the team developing it is full of great developers you want on your team.

You acquire the startup and its development team. Fantastic! Now you just need to integrate their team with yours. And that’s when you find out they use a different tool for their workflow.

The workflow without Unito

The integrated team is already dealing with a ton of change. The company they work for might effectively cease to exist, and maybe some of their coworkers have quit and moved on to other things. They might have to relocate to a new office, learn a bunch of new names, and conform to new workflows they don’t completely understand yet.

Do you really want to add another taxing change to the pile by forcing them onto your tool?

You want the new team to feel comfortable and like they can do their best work with you. Maybe you’re willing to let them use their usual tool, thinking you’ll figure it out later — or you might try to bring them into your tool again. This effectively creates a silo around this new team and their tool, making any kind of collaboration between them and anyone else exponentially more difficult. That collaboration is only possible by making someone into a middleman or relying on an alternate communication channel. Every workflow and process you already have needs to suddenly change to accommodate this new tool you’ve added to your suite. Oh, and the bill for all their seats falls on you now.

Let’s say you don’t let them keep their tool. Well in that case you might have a fight on your hands. And even if you “win,” it might create resentment within your new team, shattering your dreams of great collaboration between them and the rest of the company. Plus you’ll have to train them all on a new tool and new workflows.

Where Unito comes in

Integrating a new team is already a huge undertaking. It takes time, resources, and a lot of empathy from both sides. So what if you can remove one big source of frustration for everyone? 

One of the problems with trying to find a single tool that works for two teams is they might each have completely different needs. A product manager might swear by the analytics and Scrum templates provided by Jira, while a team of developers never leaves GitHub. With Unito, you can make sure everyone has access to the tool that they need, without isolating them from your workflow.

When a new team joins you, it’s already tough to make them feel at home. By having an integration for the tool they know and love, you’re telling them that there’s a place for them with you. And you can back that up with an integration that makes collaborating across tools a breeze.

Syncing GitHub repos to a Jira project

In this example, a new team of developers who work exclusively in GitHub are joining a company whose product managers mainly use Jira. For the most part, the developers can stay in their tool without any issues. The only exceptions are that the product manager wants visibility on repo requests, and they need to be able to leave comments in Jira that will get to GitHub.

This can all be done with Unito. Comments are one of the most important things to sync, so default settings will make sure they get carried over, along with assignees, due dates, and anything else you need.

For repo requests, you can customize Unito so they’re synced to Jira issues. This can be done in just a few clicks from our interface. The number of fields that can be synced then will be a bit more limited than in other use cases, but a product manager will still be able to keep an eye on repo requests without needing to jump into GitHub.

And just like that, everyone can work from their environment, and the product manager has the visibility and access that they need.

Cross the no man’s land

Tool choice doesn’t need to be a fight. Collaboration is already complicated enough without having to worry about which platform everyone is using. So when you’re planning your next cross-company project, choose to go beyond the tool debate. By using Unito, you can make sure everyone works from the place they’re most comfortable without sacrificing visibility and efficiency.

What’s next?

1. Ready to start? Try Unito free for 14 days!
2. See the power of Unito in action.
3. Read more blog posts about how you can use Unito.