The Benefits of Restructuring Teams for Customer Use Cases

Divya Ramachandran

Product Leader & Coach at Square Circle, Inc



When I took on product at my last company, we had an a very misaligned engineering and product structure. Our engineering team was predominantly organized by a technical components, and this was leading us to prioritize technically-motivated, rather than business-motivated features. In fact, we had not launched a generic customer-facing product or feature for a good year and a half because of this structural issue.

Actions taken

I suggested that we restructure our engineering, and essentially, our scrum teams to focus on customer use cases, bringing together technical problems across the stack to deliver a single customer outcome. This also enabled us to take essentially the same underlying product and deliver different kinds of value to different kinds of customer use cases. By restructuring our teams to work on and deliver specific customer use cases, a single team could have full ownership and control over the end-to-end customer experience. There were many advantages of the structural changes:

  • It helped our engineers be less pigeonholed into a single technical area
  • All engineers (not just front-end) felt more connected to the customer because they were involved in delivering full customer value-centered products or features
  • Product managers could focus on generating customer value, and could build roadmaps for each scrum team that directly tied to business outcomes for a particular customer segment or use case
  • Overall it created better alignment between product and engineering teams because now the product managers had access to all of the resources they needed to manage and deliver a particular item
  • Our engineering efficiency improved. We delivered a new customer product in just three months. We were able to deliver more products to more customers at a faster rate than before because our goals were more clearly defined.

Lessons learned

  • Restructuring can be hard to implement. Get your team and managers to understand why it has to be done by using real customer use cases and business outcomes as motivation.
  • Scrum team structure doesn't have to reflect reporting structure. Engineers can still report to a particular technical vertical that makes sense for their career aspirations, and can maintain consistency there. Scrum teams, however should and can be more dynamic based on customer needs and delivery timelines. When possible, enable engineers to choose what customer features they want to work on.
  • Having a roadmap based on customer problems rather features leads to higher product development efficiency, and increases the morale and motivation of the team.

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Divya Ramachandran

Product Leader & Coach at Square Circle, Inc

Engineering Management

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