I Created A Digital Brain System For A Small Business

Hello! My name is Leah Davis. Welcome to my landing page for my business digital brain project. I saw a need in The Quilted Windmill for a digital brain and jumped at the chance to create a system for it. Want to learn about what I created? You’ve come to the right place.

What I Chose To Make And Why

I work for a small quilt shop called The Quilted Windmill. At this small business, everything is institutional knowledge. The owner knows everything and teaches new employees. This puts additional weight on her to remember information, systems, and answer questions.

I work with inventory in the system. If I have a specific way that I want the inventory to be added, fellow employees have to memorize it. This business needs something that will hold procedures, answers to questions, and other systems that are currently on paper. 

This month, I’ll be building this system using Notion. I chose Notion because of its template options and ease of use. It can hold different pages, sub-pages, and easily searchable information all in one place. 

My Weekly Progress Updates

Week 1 – Project Preparation

This week, I prepared for my project. I created a project management system and planned every step of my project. How and when I would complete tasks.

Week 2 – Creating A Digital Brain

This week, I created the most complicated page in my digital brain project. I set up what I call an “Employee Base”. This page includes sub-pages for different aspects of the business. Adding new inventory, Guide to the Checkout counter, etc. Each sub-page has toggle-down lists containing procedures, information, and troubleshooting. 

Week 3 – Adding System Pages

This week, I added other pages to my digital brain system. I created an event sign-up spreadsheet, a product request table, and an employee hours page. 

Week 4 – Documentation

This week, I focused on documentation. I created an SOP for the project and this landing page.

The Results

After this month-long project, what do I have?

I created the skeleton for a business’s digital brain. I’ve made the foundation of a system for The Quilted Windmill. It was made specifically for their own business. The tools are there for this system to grow with the business. I built a page for procedures, troubleshooting, and information about various elements for product requests, BOM, and employee hours. I created a SOP to go along with the digital brain.

Other documentation

  • I made a video on my project management system on Trello. I wanted to learn how to use Trello. I’ve learned how to use Notion, but I wanted to expand my exposure to common project management systems. 

What I Learned

Photo by Windows on Unsplash
  • How to project manage: I know how to plan my week and small projects. This project stretched me to plan every step down to the day it should be completed. It gave me confidence that I could complete my project in the given. 
  • How to pitch my project: In order to pitch a project, you have to know the basics of the project. You can’t bog people down with details and your thought process behind every single one. I learned how to sell my project by doing this for the answer for The Quilted Windmill. I had to tell her what it was, why it’d be helpful, and what she’d have to do all in a limited amount of time. I had to be clear and concise. 
  • How to figure out how to fix a problem: While working for The Quilted Windmill, I noticed inconveniences and issues. They had systems that could be improved and they had to memorize everything. This project taught me how to look at those problems and figure out the best way to solve them. I thought a digital brain would be the most efficient way to solve all these problems while being easy to manage.
  • How to layout steps and info in a professional way: I created an SOP for this project. SOP’s have to be clear, specific, and thorough. In the project, it requires being thorough with the procedures and information. 
  • How to balance work and life: It was really easy to let a project like this take over my days. It was easy not to work on my project at all when I had other things going on. I spent every week experimenting with the balance. 

What I Would Have Done Differently

Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash
  • I would have looked at more programs. I chose Notion because of its ease of use, straight-forward style, features, and I’m familiar with the program. I wanted to be able to clearly and easily explain how to use this system. That being said, I wish I would’ve looked into other programs. I knew Notion would be good for this business, but maybe another system would’ve been better. I wish I would’ve dug into other software. 
  • I would’ve asked more questions. I knew what I needed to make for this project. I had a solid plan and I executed that plan. I thought of the other pages as systems they could use. I wish I would’ve asked what they thought should be on the other pages. Are digital employee hours better than paper? I think so, but it might be more work for The Quilted Windmill. A system I hadn’t thought about could be better on the digital brain. In order to know, I need to ask questions. I can do that now, but I wish I would’ve asked more questions at the beginning of the project.
  • I would’ve gone into more detail on the digital brain page. I wanted to brainstorm and add more sub-pages about various elements of the business. I have a solid foundation, but I wish I dug deeper into it. 

Problems I Had And How I Solved Them

Ease Of Management:

  • When I came up with the idea of a digital brain, I ran into a lot of questions. One of the questions was: How am I going to make this easy to manage? I wanted to make the owner’s and employee’s lives easier instead of harder. I didn’t want to create another thing they had to manage. My desire with this project was to make management easier. How I overcame this predicament was by structuring the digital brain to be always growing. I created a system that can be added to overtime and adjusted according to how the business changes. This is why a system like Notion was perfect. It can be organized and added to easier than a document. It is easy to find a section and add more. When information is added to this digital brain, it can be searched and easily found.

Ease Of Use:

  • This leads to my next goal. I needed to make this system easy to use. Employees who don’t excel in understanding technology need to be able to use this digital brain. This is one of the main reasons I chose Notion. The way it is built is easy to understand. 
Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

What To Include:

  • Another problem I ran into was what I should include in the system. What does this business need in a digital brain? What would they actually use? I don’t want to spend time building a page they aren’t going to use. I figured out a couple of systems they had in place. I noticed they had a Longarming schedule on paper. The owner noted how they really liked the paper system they had. I took note of that and didn’t add it to the digital brain. I had to take a good look at how the business ran to find out what they would use. 

How To Add Information I Don’t Know:

  •  My business knowledge of steps and information is limited. In The Quilted Windmill, I only cover running their inventory system. I’ve never closed the store, made a kit, or ordered fabric. I don’t have all the information I need to make a solid foundation for this digital brain. I created a skeleton to jump off of and I’m working with a fellow employee to build on the system. 

Closing Thoughts

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

This project has been a huge challenge for me. I created a digital brain for an actual company. I pitched it to them and they are going to use it! I’ve been working with a fellow employee to implement the system and fill out the digital brain with information. This has been my passion project this month. I knew that this was a way I could make teaching new employees easier. I was driven by a desire to help the owner of the business. My confidence in planning a project and achieving my goals has dramatically improved. I have hands-on experience solving a problem for a business. I can’t wait to tackle more and continue to solve problems with real solutions!

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