Team Collaboration Will Make a Customer Happy

Yidner Salazar

Senior Manager Software Development at Workday



I lead teams that are using different technologies; our work is branched in either application or integration. Naturally, this gap requires that we communicate a lot. However, I've noticed that all that talk doesn't tackle the problem of ownership. Every discussion always ends up blaming the others and endlessly dwelling on problems. Both teams eventually fail at fixing problems as they only look at either the application or integration side and ignore to see the product as a whole.

Actions taken

I decided to reframe the discussion about ownership by introducing a customer's perspective. In a nutshell, I wanted them to see a product through lenses of a customer -- and the customer sees a product as a whole. I asked both teams to assess how customers yield our product in general and how their collaboration affects the product as a whole. Instead of talking about ownership that lies within each team I talked about ownership of a product. This approach fundamentally changed their perspective on things. We used Scrum to create better team dynamics. To be able to see a product as a whole we had to understand why we also need to function as a whole. Our communication across the teams improved and regular Scrum of Scrums meetings were proposed. QAs were also invited to participate and organize group tests. In general, people became more curious about the whole process and how it affected customers.

Lessons learned

  • When a customer reports a problem, teams would pass the blame on each other instead of rushing to fix the problem. I understood that the only way to change their behavior was to change the overall team dynamics.
  • I had to reframe the problem of ownership; ownership should transcend over the team roles and focus on the product as a whole. All teams should be guided by customers' perspective and be cognizant how their work directly affects both the product and the customers.
  • QAs were hesitant to join our efforts as that meant additional workload for them and they were generally unaware of the problems arising from the lack of collaboration. It took some convincing and showcasing the benefits, but once they grasped their role in the process they were more eager to participate.

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Yidner Salazar

Senior Manager Software Development at Workday

CommunicationOrganizational StrategyCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementSprint CadencePerformance MetricsLeadership TrainingPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesTeam & Project Management

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