How to Collaborate with Other Teams to Build Great Products

How to Collaborate with Other Teams to Build Great Products

We live in a rapidly growing world, and collaboration is how to move forward. It is crucial but often easier said than done. With tight deadlines and multiple teams working in parallel, it’s too easy for things to slip through the cracks or for people to work at cross-purposes.

If you have experience in a startup environment. You would’ve lost count of the late nights spent untangling spaghetti code because an engineer needed to get the full context from their counterpart in another department. 

Or You would have bumped into a situation with user issues that could have been avoided if design and development had talked through an edge case together. Studies show teams who collaborate & communicate effectively may increase their productivity by as much as 25%.

You might think we mastered collaboration by now with modern project management tools and communication channels. But as any product manager will tell you, the human factor makes or breaks cross-team alignment. That’s why we are sharing some approaches we have found helpful in our journey, breaking down silos and getting everyone on the same page. They’ll save you some headaches, too.

The tips range from establishing clear roles and expectations upfront to fostering empathy between teams through buddy programs or job shadowing. Early and frequent alignment is critical, as is identifying a “collaboration owner” to help resolve conflicts or keep discussions on track. Transparency with obstacles and deadlines also goes a long way.

So, if your product efforts could be more cohesive, let’s discuss Collaboration. We’ll share strategies that have paid off for us and lessons learned; with some tweaks to process and culture, we can cultivate a collaborative ecosystem that propels our product development endeavors to new heights.

Why Is Collaboration Important For Building Great Products?

Let’s start with the basics,

As any product manager knows, the goal is to build solutions that genuinely solve users’ problems – and to do it efficiently. But in today’s complex technology landscape, the challenges customers face and the tools needed to address them have grown increasingly multifaceted. Each person or team has all the answers.

Roughly 75% of employees regard Collaboration and teamwork as important. Collaboration is among the top four skills for employees’ future success. 

There are a few key reasons. Collaboration pays off:

  • Finding Bugs Beforehand: When design, engineering, and product are all in each other’s business, they catch usability problems and technical limitations much earlier. This saves so much frustration from wasting time on ideas that never fly.
  • Getting Smarter Together: Folks from different backgrounds see issues from their angles. By looping stakeholders in early and often, we access that diverse knowledge and end up with solutions that cover all the bases.
  • Rowing in Sync: If teams need to be on the same page about what matters for customers and the business, it’s rework city. Regular check-ins help material priorities stay top of mind so all the teams aim for the same goals.
  • Faster to Customers: With clear “you do this, I’ll do that” (transparent work allocation) definitions, different development pieces can progress simultaneously instead of one after the other. Collaboration accelerates the whole shebang.

When it comes down to it, no matter how brainy any one person is, real innovation happens when we tap different knowledge together as a team. Coordination is critical for delivering products customers love and doing it at the speed we’re expected to today. So, know, maybe talk to your coworkers once in a while 

How to Collaborate With Other Teams to Build Great Products

Theodore Roosevelt said, “The most essential thing in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people. ” That makes a great point. We often get so focused on defending our ideas that we need to remember to listen before deciding how to help each other.

It has been time and again observed that nothing slows progress like mixed messages or folks working against each other by accident.

Teamwork is about combining individual smartness, not duplicating work. So, keeping other groups in the loop about what matters is critical for maximally leveraging our collective brainpower.

When you break it down, all that research and wisdom boils down to real simple human stuff – listening, respect, and empathy. Those intangible connections are the glue between teams that unlock our highest potential to create great things together.

Let’s look at the steps to how you can efficiently collaborate with other teams:

  1. Define Clear Objectives
  2. Identify Key Stakeholders
  3. Establish Open Communication
  4. Create a Shared Roadmap
  5. Assign Roles and Responsibilities
  6. Encourage Cross-Functional Collaboration
  7. Use Collaboration Tools
  8. Celebrate Successes and Learn

1. Define Clear Objectives

The first step is defining clear objectives that all teams understand and agree on. With clear goals, teams can avoid pulling in different directions. Establish shared product goals, priorities, success metrics, and timelines that everyone buys into. Have team leaders sign off to ensure alignment from the start.

Chisel’s Feature Treeview lets you break down your product into precise components and features aligned to objectives. Tagging features by objectives in the roadmap helps ensure all teams work towards the same goals.

Chisel Treeview Dashboard
Feature treeview to organize and prioritize your product backlog

2. Identify Key Stakeholders

Take time to map out all internal and external stakeholders involved. Interact with representatives from each group to understand their perspectives and needs. Knowing who needs to be in the room to make decisions is half the collaboration battle. Identify the right contacts to coordinate efforts and resolve blockers.

The Feedback Portal and surveys capture the voice of customers to understand what matters most to them. The Idea Box brings in feedback from all sources in one place. This helps identify important stakeholders beyond just the product team.

3. Establish Open Communication

Transparent, frequent communication keeps projects on track. Hold regular check-ins across teams to surface issues early. According to a study, 72% of business leaders believe effective communication has increased their team’s productivity. Share updates via common channels like tracking tools or team chat. Encourage an open dialogue and quick responses to questions.

Features like the Kanban board, Release View, and Timeline provide transparency into the work and plans. Encouraging participation through priority voting and comments in Chisel fosters more open team discussion.

Chisel Kanban Board Dashboard for collective help create communications in the team
Kanban board for collective help create communications in the team

4. Create a Shared Roadmap

Collaborate to create a single product roadmap all teams can work from. Companies have repeatedly said, “Alignment on roadmaps greatly improves cross-team partnerships.” The roadmap should establish priorities, allocate responsibilities, and integrate timelines. Revisit it periodically to account for changes. A shared roadmap ensures all teams move in a coordinated fashion towards shared goals.

The roadmap visualization tools give the complete picture of what’s being built and when. Automatically syncing ideas from other channels into the Idea Box prevents information silos. Teams can collaborate using a single source of truth.

Chisel’s Idea Box for syncing ideas
Chisel’s idea box for syncing ideas

With the right processes in place, cross-functional collaboration can lead to building genuinely innovative, customer-centric products. Keeping priorities clear and communication lines open are keys to navigating the complexity of working across teams.

5. Assign Roles and Responsibilities

Each team should appoint points of contact for tasks in the roadmap. Provide role-specific objectives to avoid ambiguity. For example, designate a member from each team to serve as critical liaisons. Ensure responsibilities do not overlap to prevent territorial disputes. Cross-train backups in case of staff changes. These practices will help eliminate any confusion or internal. Conflicts and facilitate seamless functioning.  

Chisel’s Treeview and Kanban board provide visibility into what work is done by each team or individual. This additional level of detail helps define roles and track accountability.

6. Encourage Cross-Functional Collaboration

Foster opportunities for collaboration beyond meetings. For example, co-locate team members working on the same features when possible. Schedule dedicated idea-sharing sessions for cross-pollination. “Teams that collaborated organically delivered products months faster.” Make it easy for different teams to connect and support each other.

Chisel’s participation features promote involvement from all teams in feedback, prioritization, and planning. This helps break down silos by directly involving designers, engineers, and more in decision-making.

Bring In Your Team’s Voice With Team Participation
Bring in your teams voice with team participation

7. Use Collaboration Tools

Now, the most crucial step is to automate and efficiently regulate the collaboration process.

Collaboration across teams is critical to building genuinely great products these days. As we often operate in agile cross-functional setups, it can stir havoc to facilitate the cooperation for Product managers; the most effective way is to utilize collaboration tools like Chisel, Slack, and many more.

Collaboration software gives you visibility into each other’s work and makes Collaboration seamless regardless of location or schedule. We recommend finding your team’s ideal setup but start with communication and project tracking at the top of your list. Make it easy for everyone to stay on the same page.

Sync Ideas From Other Tools Using Integrations
Sync ideas from other tools using integrations

8. Celebrate Successes and Learn

Launching any primary product is a big win, so don’t be afraid to give your teammates some love for all their hard work along the way. 

A challenge with multi-team projects is that getting pulled in too many directions at a time is easy. We should also build retrospectives every few sprints to address issues before they escalate. 

After projects wrap up, send out a quick survey to get a pulse on what went well and how folks think it could’ve been better next time. Look for opportunities to strengthen relationships with your cross-functional partners. And hey, if all else fails and frustration starts to build, buy the programmers some bagels – continually a good peace offering! The key is continuous improvement through open communication.

Key Takeaways

Great that you made it so far. 

Collaboration is tricky but essential these days, considering our high-speed world. 

Communication is king 

In the end, it’s all about teamwork. Check in regularly, value each contribution, and remember – together, you can build something way more extraordinary than any one person alone! Keep the communication open and the vibe upbeat.

Crafting great product requires great tools. Try Chisel today, it's free forever.