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Cross-Team Project Cooperation

Ashley Miller

Director of Engineering at Datadog

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Problem

One thing we deal with a lot at Datadog is cross-team projects. Datadog is growing and all of the teams have become responsible for more things and we are adding new products all the time. One of the things we pay a lot of attention to is workflows, and this, in turn has resulted in teams needing to cooperate with each other for cross-team projects. So, how do you make that work in a way that's really efficient?

Actions taken

"Often, the reason for cross-team projects failing is that nobody owned the product. Because of this, the project isn't made a priority by either team and it progresses too slowly. This is terribly inefficient."

The most effective way I've found to approach this problem is to make it someone's responsibility for the project's success, and then assign people from my team and ensure they have a partner on the other team to work with. So a much better way to work is to assign specific tasks to people on your team, and partner them up with someone on the other team. Make sure it isn't treated as a side project, but as an important part of their work. Then, ensure that people own the product, allowing them to make decisions and iron out the small details to make it work, rather than relying on a hierarchy to make decisions about these details. Engineers tend to enjoy working with new people, and this approach gives them the opportunity. They also appreciate being given the authority to make decisions, as it can be very annoying to have to seek permission over every little detail.

Lessons learned

Trusting your engineers and setting clear goals from the start are both really important when setting up effective cross-team work. Trust your developers and the designers to do the right thing and set up really clear ownership at the start of any cross-team project and then get out of the way. While you can't do this for everybody, if you have hired engineers you trust, then allow them the space to make decisions for themselves.


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Ashley Miller

Director of Engineering at Datadog


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