Often product owners tend to remove their development team from the product design cycle because they think it is a waste of time or not their job. But on the other side there are many things that are missed by doing so. Let’s see what are the benefits of having the development team involved in the design process as early as possible, how to make that happen most efficiently and what the biggest myths are.
“Designers design, developers code?” – go crossfunctional
If you want to be the best, learn from the best! So let’s look at the currently most successful software companies and how they evolved. Whether it is Facebook, Google, Amazon or smaller fast-evolving startups, most of them operate with a small team in which everyone is involved in the process of decision making. And if you follow the Lean Startup approach, iterating fast is very important, but how can you do that if you do not engage the whole team in your product decisions? Be aware, the more communication and hierarchy there is – the slower you are.
Don’t miss valuable feedback
Fast product iterations require real user feedback. You may think you know what users want, but it is a guess until you have the feedback (there are exceptions to this but they are rare and I’ll skip those for now). At the same time, why not get another perspective with feedback from people within the team. This might be a good start or even a good warning.
Developers know secret shortcuts
All of us love to move fast. Plan something small, get it done and released to users, get feedback, and improve! But what is “small” and when to stop going smaller? One way I like to think about that: there is always an underlying goal, a hypothesis that you want to test – and often you know the shortest path to that. But your development team might know an even shorter one (or two or three); talk to them. I have a number of stories in which half of the backlog was thrown away after the team implemented several very important features that helped validate the concept; the rest was not needed.
They also know cheaper ways to get that app built
Technology is growing exponentially these days but its capabilities are still limited in many ways. There are certain things that can be done in seconds but one unimportant difference can lead to days of extra work. Why not to cut it and go the faster route? Your development team will help you find it.
Every team member must understand and accept what is done
“You haven’t told me to do that”
Something is probably deeply wrong with the way your team works if you hear that, but there are certain things that may lead to such a statement.
Let’s begin this way. We love when everybody on the team understands each other and you do not even need to explain the details of an issue, you can just tell what the problem is and soon it’s resolved. We love when people are proactive and think ahead, so you can let them make some decisions on their own and they commit to those, because they are willing to. The opposite end of the spectrum is a dictatorship. Hope you have not faced this situation:
“Here is what you need to do – please do it.”
“But you have not done this and this.”
“You have not told me to.”
This never ends well. Having an open discussion with the majority of the team always helps people better understand decisions, engage and make their own commitments.
Another pair of engineering eyes can find what you missed
And even if you are not convinced yet, you definitely know that after you’ve spent some time on your own with the product, you stop noticing details that you should. In such a case, just having another pair of eyes is great.
But it takes more time
Definitely. The more people you involve the more time it is spent or even wasted, so it is important to balance things. Do not waste too much time of your team but at the same time, leverage the opportunities you can get.