One of the main challenges faced by a technology team is to transform the value provided by each team player into one that encompasses the work as a whole team.
And this is where the role of the Product Manager comes in to successfully face this challenge. Knowing this, I can name at least 4 keys to achieve an effective and successful coordination of multidisciplinary teams.
Knowledge of roles
It is essential that each work area knows the purpose of the other positions. Think of it this way: in a large team of a digital project can coexist Backend developers, Frontend developers, QA analysts, UX Designers, UX Content, UX Researchers, Data Analyst and Product profiles. Each of these roles has very different functions that bring different value to the project, and in order for the parties to coexist and make the most of each other's knowledge, it is essential for them to know the scope of work that their colleagues have.
From my experience, it was useful for the team to have a meeting where each one could expose their activity and at the same time the rest could ask what is the best way in which they could work collaboratively. From my point of view it is always a good time to sit down and talk about the importance of each role to avoid future conflicts.
Constant and effective communication
The team must know at all times in which stage each one is working and know the estimated dates. This has an impact on the final delivery of the product, since from the beginning all the people involved are aware of the process of research, discovery, design, strategy and finally the development of the product.
As Product Managers it is our task to synchronize this work dynamics and generate sync whenever necessary. Specifically in my work at Revolt, I found myself in a situation where during the first part of the process the parties were very distant from each other, which caused further delays in the development of the final product. To reverse this, it was useful to be able to analyze it in a retro and to know how fundamental it was to be able to face the new challenges being all aware of what was happening in each area. As well as communicating from my place the importance of committing to the planning stage, since that was going to set the times.
Maintain work ceremonies and adapt them to the team
If we follow the basis of the Scrum methodology, there are 5 key instances to carry out: sprint planning, sprint review, sprint refinement, sprint retrospective and daily scrum.
This definitely sounds very good in theory but it may not always be the best fit for the team. That is why I think it is necessary to review with the members what are the needs they have, what is the constancy with which they can commit and mainly set expectations and objectives of each of the meetings.
With each of the teams that I had to work with as PM, the processes and dynamics were different and the greatest learning was to understand that the importance of the ceremonies was to get value out of them and not just "something that has to be done". So the focus shifts to thinking about the most agile way of working for that particular team and not having to put agility aside in order to fit into a specific model.
Encourage and generate trust between all parties
For the work to explode to its full potential as PM, it is our job to generate spaces of trust between all members and to generate discussions about the solutions that are being thought from each party working on the product.
Someone’s comment that is silenced at the beginning of the discovery can generate problems in the final stage of the delivery. That is why it is essential that everyone in the team firmly believes that all topics can be discussed with respect and openly debated to build a great product.
Taking this from theory to practice is one of the most difficult things I have encountered in my work. What I can definitely say from my experience that does not work is that the team feels verticality in the different roles, that everyone's comments are not respected or valued, or that they believe that only the opinion of a CEO is worthwhile.
And considering on what did work for me I could say: to maintain spaces to talk about topics not necessarily related to work but that make everyone feel closer to the team (more in the context of remote work), to generate spaces for questions and discussions about the requests that a client might ask for, and fundamentally to always be open to understand the time that a task can take without generating extra pressure to the team.
In addition to these 4 principles, it is essential to pay attention to these difficulties that may arise along the way:
It is important to take into account the fact that not only people from different professional areas may live together in the same team, but also from different cultures.
For this reason, care must always be taken to ensure that all parties feel integrated and that there is a space of mutual respect for the forms of communication and work that may occur depending on the person's place of origin.
To prevent any problems in this regard, it is necessary to talk and engage in early conversations about the diversity of the team and the importance of valuing this rather than seeing it as an obstacle.
Deviation of focus/goals
In any project with many people, confusion can end up generating confusion that leads to the team becoming unfocused on the final goal. The reasons for this can be many but the main thing is to be alert to this as soon as possible and if necessary make a double check of the roadmap and have conversations about the main focus of what you want to develop.
It should be our top priority to keep all our team in the same lane and understanding the why of what we are doing.
There is always the possibility of problems arising between team members that go beyond a work discussion.
For this it is essential that as coordinators of a project we constantly maintain feedback conversations with each one to detect if there are obstacles in the day to day due to internal situations that are occurring between certain people.
And after detecting it, we should take actions to understand the best solution in order to continue working collaboratively among everyone.
Finally I could say that to achieve a good communication and coordination of a team it is important to be in the day to day. These are not just steps that are done only once, but must be constantly present to achieve that long awaited synchronization.
And it should be part of our mission as Product Managers to always keep in mind that we must build the best teams in order to obtain the best results. The importance of people management should never be underestimated because of the importance of product management.
Blogpost written by: Giuliana Termite