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Cross-Functional Teams: A Product Manager's Nirvana


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Cross-functional teams solve challenging problems faster by employing multi-disciplinary approach and delivering business value early and often. The fact that multi-disciplinary team members work on the same problem at the same time brings a number of advantages, of which speed of delivery and product quality are most important. The ability to listen and consider other viewpoints is a key to understanding tough problems and when applied properly, the results can be spectacular!

In this 60-minute session, we’re going to explore the benefits of cross-functional teams and look at how Product Managers can employ cross-functional teams to drive business value. We will look at key aspects of successful cross-functional teams such as:

How cross-functional teams maximize business value
* Alignment of business goals and return on investment
* How to assemble a cross-functional team
* Technology and the stack – no need to be an expert, but an understanding of the stack can help balance the business with the technical stories
* Driving user experience – here again, the PM is not a UI/UX designer, but someone who has the final say of the overall direction or “feel” of the product
* Diving the work among the x-functional team
* Epic and story definition when working with cross-functional teams
* Tracking progress
* How to prioritize features based on a technology stack

We’re going to look at ways to recruit and retain cross-functional talent and some of the organizational challenges that can arise as a result of this new team structure.

The audience of product managers, product owners, executives, technical managers and recruiting managers will learn what makes cross-functional teams successful, look at industry best practices and apply these strategies in their own organizations.

Published in: Technology

Cross-Functional Teams: A Product Manager's Nirvana

  1. 1. Cross-Functional Teams: A Product Manager's Nirvana Levent Gurses, President, Movel @gursesl MVP Conference 2015
  2. 2. Levent Gurses @gursesl Developer, speaker, and entrepreneur, Levent is the founder Movel, an enterprise mobility company. He’s engaged in tech communities on mobile and full-stack development across the Mid-Atlantic. Levent holds a BS in Computer Engineering and is a Certified ScrumMaster and Certified Product Owner.
  3. 3. Imagine
  4. 4. Functional Teams 50 days Business & Market Research 60 days Marketing User Research (Focus Groups) 40 days Business Requirem ents 30 days Developm ent 90 days 40 days Testing Release 20 days 330 days
  5. 5. Too long.
  6. 6. Cross-Functional Teams Business & Market Research Marketing User Research (Focus Groups) Business Requirem ents Developm ent Testing Release Goal: 60 days
  7. 7. Jack Welch Assume there is a multifunctional business consisting of engineering, marketing, and manufacturing. The business has the best manufacturing person it has ever had – someone with excellent numbers, who produces high-quality goods on time: "But this person won't talk with people in engineering and manufacturing. He won't share ideas with them, and won't behave in a boundaryless way with them. Now, let's replace this person with someone who may not be quite perfect, but who is a good team player and lifts the team's overall performance. Maybe the predecessor was working at 100%, but he didn't talk with team members, didn't swap ideas. As a result, the whole team was operating at 65%. The new manager now is getting 90% or 100% from the whole total. That was a discovery."
  8. 8. Functional Teams: Welcome to the Matrix
  9. 9. Cross Functional Teams: Centered Around the Product
  10. 10. Something missing? ● Security ● Compliance and assurance ● Performance testing ● Third-party integrations ● Device management ● Other specialized roles
  11. 11. Cross Functional Teams: Ver. 2.0.0
  12. 12. Key Benefits ● Improved speed of delivery ● Reduction in cycle times ● Increase in speed of feedback ● Improved product stability ● Risk reduction
  13. 13. Other Benefits ● More accurate estimates ● Avoiding the “last mile” ● Mainline dev puts product managers in charge ● Better release planning ● True agility ● Expand team skillsets ● Reduce the “bus factor”
  14. 14. In a single word... Cross-Functional Teams = True Agility
  15. 15. But. Like anything else in life...
  16. 16. There are some drawbacks. ● More time required for budgeting ● Distractions ● Some team members dislike working in x-functional teams ● Calculating and balancing the time needed for advisors ● Political and departmental resistance
  17. 17. Cross-functional teams do not work in all domains and for all projects.
  18. 18. Success Factors
  19. 19. ● Design and development of new products ● Choosing and implementing new technologies throughout an organization ● Improving the service-profit chain ● Control product costs ● Tiger teams (Emergencies) 1 IDENTIFY THE RIGHT PROJECT
  20. 20. ● Product Management ● UX ● Engineering ● Project Management ● Development Management ● Quality Assurance ● Product Design ● Customer Support ● Technical writers ● Production / Shipping ● Design ● Marketing ● Advertising ● Product Marketing ● Marketing Communications ● Field Sales ● Inside Sales ● Sales Engineering ● Professional Services ● Legal ● Accounting 2 ASSEMBLE THE RIGHT TEAM
  21. 21. ● Team members must be open-minded and highly motivated to learn and teach ● Team members must come from the all needed functional areas ● A strong team leader with communication skills and a position of authority is needed ● The team must have the authority and the accountability to accomplish the mission ● Management must provide resources and support for the team, both moral and financial ● Greater level of communication across all team members is needed 3 EMPOWER THE TEAM
  22. 22. ● Create real metrics such as estimates vs. real data ● Gather real user feedback and pass on to the entire team ● Improve processes for faster, better customer experience 4 MEASURE [FOR] SUCCESS
  23. 23. In closing... ● Cross-functional teams are product-centered ● Not all teams and projects are fit for cross-functional teams ● Communication is key for success ● True agility is the main outcome of cross-functional teams
  24. 24. Thank you @gursesl
  25. 25. Resources ● ● ● ● ●