Better workflows lead to faster collaboration

While the teams at Figma are busy building collaborative, cutting-edge design tools for creatives, they rely on Dropbox for their own internal workflows and improved communication.

Dec 22, 2020

by Maisie Ho, IT manager at Figma

 

At Figma, our mission is to make design accessible to everyone. We achieve that goal by empowering our customers—designers and creative teams—with streamlined workflows that allow them to create, test, and build better designs. And we employ that same empowerment within our own internal teams.

I joined Figma as the startup’s first full-time IT hire. I’m keenly aware that with a mission to revolutionize collaboration in the design community, our internal teams require best-in-class tools in order to share files, work together, and organize projects as we create cutting-edge products for our customers. 

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Figma logo

A solution for getting organized and communicating better

 
Figma’s collaborative culture is wonderfully palpable—something I felt the moment I started. But we had some issues: While we used a number of tools that enabled people to work together, nothing was standardized. As a result, our projects were all over the place. 

Multiple versions of project files and documents were saved in various locations, which confused everyone. We engaged in a lot of circular communication, where many people wasted time looking or asking for files they needed.

We used video to collaborate long before the pandemic. Our company-wide meetings, show-and-tells, wellness events, and various training sessions were held remotely via video conference, and we archived them for future use. Unfortunately, we weren't very good at organizing these, either. When we needed to view these videos and transcripts weeks later, or show them to a new hire, nobody knew where to find them.

Although we had the right tools at our fingertips, there was no official workflow, and people didn't know how to access these files.

Our company-wide meetings were especially problematic. We rotate the hosts of our weekly meetings, so whoever ran them on a particular week would get flooded with messages requesting a copy of the recording. If the hosts failed to respond, or if people didn't know who to contact in the first place, they would then ping HR, adding to that department's workload.
Figma on working with Dropbox
“We’d been using Dropbox since Figma’s early days, but we weren't actively managing it. I knew it was the perfect foundation for a set of workflows that would supercharge the way we collaborate but we had yet to harness its full potential.”
Maisie Ho, IT manager at Figma
Headshot of Maisie Ho, IT manager at Figma

A world of integrations

 
Dropbox integrates seamlessly with many platforms we use every day. Some of our teams had already incorporated it into their workflows. For example, our legal department uses Dropbox in conjunction with the Ironclad digital contract management software. Whenever they draft a new contract in Ironclad, it is automatically archived and available in Dropbox. When they make any changes, whether it’s adding signatories, rewording clauses, or modifying terms and conditions, everything is instantly updated in Dropbox after it gets saved in Ironclad.

For the legal team, using an outdated version of an agreement can have disastrous consequences. With Dropbox, there’s never any confusion about the latest version of an agreement.

Our legal team has also started sharing contracts with our sales team. Figma's sales reps can now view these contracts in Dropbox, and the two departments work together to ensure everyone stays on the same page with negotiations and agreements. 
In-document collaboration between sales and legal teams on contracts using Dropbox

We now use Dropbox also to onboard new IT hires because it integrates with Okta's cloud-based identity-access solution. Dropbox supports Okta's SAML (Security Access Mark-up Language) and SCIM (System for Cross-Domain Identity Management) features. We used to have to manually onboard users. Now, when we provision a new user they are automatically invited to Dropbox. 

While no longer having to click through a series of menus to onboard new users may seem trivial, it’s really a matter of scale. Figma went from 130 to 292 employees in 2020 alone, so that integration saved our small IT team a lot of valuable time creating new user accounts. 

Setting up the Okta integration itself took less than a day. In fact, I spent more time communicating its availability and use to our employees than getting it up and running.

The power of choice

Over the last year, our teams have steadily adopted Dropbox Paper to document processes and team meetings, outline projects, create to-do lists, solicit feedback, and collaborate across departments and functions. 

We know that one size doesn't always fit all, so we still give our teams the option to use platforms like Notion or Google Drive, but our Dropbox user base is growing constantly. Some teams and individual employees prefer the look and feel or the functionalities of one platform over another, sometimes even choosing different platforms when working on different projects. 

While we continue to make them available for the time being, increasing Dropbox usage will help us standardize workflows going forward.

A shared Dropbox folder containing .jpegs that need to be approved

A lifeline during a hard time

 

We experienced massive growth during the global pandemic—which has been a good challenge to have—and Dropbox proved to be a lifeline during this time. As a result of various shelter-in-place orders, we had more than twice as many employees working from home as we had onsite the previous year. Fortunately, as a technology-forward company, we had a relatively smooth transition, because all our tools are already in the cloud and remotely accessible.

Even when teams can’t share a physical space, the right collaboration tools can make working together easy and powerful.

While we no longer work in a shared physical space, we get to experience a shared virtual space via Dropbox. We continue to share files, archive meetings, collaborate on documents, sign contracts, and celebrate our team progress. The Dropbox platform has proven to be powerful and flexible enough to scale with our growth and help us meet our pandemic challenges. Dropbox has helped us all make the best of this difficult situation.

Raising awareness about better workflows

 

Figma has used Dropbox since day one, but it was only in the past year that we realized its full potential. As we continue to grow, Dropbox has become a permanent part of our workflow and it’s now baked into Figma’s culture.  As we take our business to the next level, Dropbox will be integral to further transforming how design teams around the world collaborate.

Our next big push is to raise awareness about Dropbox’s Finder integration in macOS. We run our entire operation on Macs, so making the most of this integration means that people can save their files to Dropbox as quickly as they can save them to their internal hard drives. This is standard procedure for our legal team, and ideally everyone in the company will work this way in the future.

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