Why working with a product-oriented team is awesome

Ido Moskovitch
May 15, 2019 · 4 min read
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Why working with a product-oriented team is awesome

As a Product Manager, one of the most frustrating things is the feeling of a tug-of-war contest with developers colleagues: Developers will pull the rope towards technical debts and a robust infrastructure, while PMs will pull it back towards top notch designs and user experience.

Most of the time, the root cause for the tug-of-war contest feeling is not about the quality of the people. Rather, awesome employees tend to pull the rope because the culture of the company encourages them to do that.

In this short read, I’ll try to share from my experience working in Soluto, and demonstrate how working with a product oriented dev team can improve this dev-product relationship, and make processes more efficient, motivating and even fun.

Working in squads (Soluto’s ‘Journey Teams’)

The basics for allowing your team to be product-oriented are creating the appropriate conditions for it.

Spotify is known for developing a “product- oriented dev. culture” taking Agile methodology to the next level by optimising their scrum framework to be ‘squad’ focused.

A squad, according to Spotify’s engineering culture , is a small cross-functional, self-organized team which usually comprises of less than eight members. The team members have end-to-end responsibilities, and they work together towards their long-term mission.

Having a lot in common with these principles from Spotify, in Soluto we call our squads ‘Journey Teams’ because they focus on a chronological journey that the users experience with the product. Each Journey Team usually consists of a PM, a UX Designer, 3–4 Fullstack Developers and a Data Scientist (where relevant). We spend most of our day together in the same space, so there are almost zero meetings needed to talk about work.

The key drivers for the Journey Teams to success, as inspired by Spotify’s squads model, are:

  • Autonomy: Autonomy is motivating, and motivated people build better stuff, faster. This is because an autonomous team can take decisions locally rather than depend on managers and committees.

How to make your squad product-oriented?

Here are few concepts we use in Soluto to facilitate this culture:

  1. Arrange the teams around your product structure: Structuring the teams around customer journeys (or another equivalent structure, depending on your product) — is the first step towards a product-oriented team. When the team structure is defined by the product, the entire mindset is shaped around product goals.

What is the PM role in the product-oriented squad?

Taking all the above into consideration, many of the PM’s responsibilities are in fact the entire team’s responsibilities. There are still a few things owned exclusively by the PM:

  • Understand the product vision and make sure the team is aligned with it

To wrap up, here are the main benefits from working in a product-oriented team:

  • Higher agility: “You didn’t mention the edge cases so I can’t begin to code” — this is the voice of the developer pulling the rope in the contest. In a product-oriented team, dev & product can work in parallel. Team members have more liberty and confidence to make decisions, move fast and be agile in light of changes. Dev time might sometimes go to waste due to working in parallel, but that would be a fair tradeoff!

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Originally published at https://blog.solutotlv.com on May 15, 2019.

Soluto by asurion

Engineering. Product. UX. Culture.

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