The disconnect between product and engineering teams can present a significant challenge for organisations seeking to develop successful products. The impacts can be severe, ranging from poorly designed, delayed or cancelled products, to high attrition and low productivity.
The root of this disconnect can be traced back to a variety of reasons, but one of the most significant challenges is the fact that the two teams often speak different languages.
Product teams are typically focused on user experience and business goals, while engineering teams are focused on technical feasibility. This can lead to misunderstandings and frustration on both sides. Additionally, product and engineering teams often have different priorities, with product teams focusing on shipping new features and engineering teams on making sure the product is stable and secure. This can result in conflict when the two teams need to make trade-offs.
The impact of the disconnect can be severe and very expensive. Poorly designed products, delayed or cancelled projects, high staff turnover, and low productivity are some of the impacts that can coalesce and cause significant damage.
There are some fundamental issues that lead to these impacts, such as competing narratives about the purpose of the product team, communication challenges, misaligned priorities, and poor quality.
To reduce the disconnect, we have found focusing on the following areas to be useful:
- Clear aligned vision: It is important for all stakeholders to understand the vision, purpose, and interface of the product and engineering teams. Competing narratives will be less common and work completed more efficiently when the product and engineering teams have a clear understanding of the product vision. This means they need to be on the same page about the goals of the product, the target market, and the competitive landscape.
- Training and clarity: Providing training on technical topics to the product team and business topics to the engineering team can help bridge the gap in communication. When everyone has a common understanding of the technical and business aspects of the project, communication becomes more effective.
- Co-location: Co-location of the product and engineering teams can lead to better communication and collaboration. When the teams are in the same physical location, it becomes easier to work together, discuss issues face-to-face, and build relationships. When that’s not possible it's important to look for alternative strategies. We’ve found that regular check-ins and collaborative tools can help to make sure communication lines are open
- Shared metrics: The product and engineering teams should have shared metrics to measure success. This helps ensure that the two teams are working towards the same goals and reduces the potential for conflicting priorities.
In conclusion, bridging the gap is essential for building successful products. By focusing on a clear and aligned vision, providing training and clarity, co-location, and shared metrics, organisations can reduce the disconnect and achieve better outcomes.
At Broadlight, we're passionate about improving collaboration between product and engineering teams. If you're facing similar challenges, let's chat and see how we can help. Get in touch.