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Breaking the Communication Gap Before It Breaks the Company

Collaboration
Conflict solving
Product Team

28 November, 2018

Maïa Metz

Maïa Metz

VP Product at Aircall

Maïa Metz highlights her experience of effectively closing the communication gap between business teams and tech/product teams, as vice president of product at Aircall.

Problem

As our company began to see substantial growth within a short period of time, so did the gap amidst the business teams and the tech/product team. The business teams didn't always understand the timing of what tech and product was working on, as well as the prioritization choices that were made by PMs. This issue escalated even further as the move to a new office placed a physical gap on the teams as well. On another note, being a business-to-business company, it is not exactly easy to get user feedback. Therefore, the disconnect from the business side was proving it hard to retain feedback and be user centric.

Actions taken

A new role was created within the squads, titled "biz in squad". Essentially, we chose one particular person from the business side, each time basing it off of the topic at hand, and placing them part-time into the product and tech side. For half a day each week, the designated person is responsible for communicating the choices of the squad to the rest of the team and report back on the feedback from the business team. In turn, they present what's been going on with tech and product at the business meeting. In addition, as a Product team, we tried to be as transparent as possible on what was going on. This meant a couple of specific initiatives: having a physical roadmap in the office to showcase prioritization choices. We also displayed our designs and welcomed feedback and opinions by making pens available for employees to jot down their personal notes or thoughts next to the designs. The same transparency was developed by administering internal user tests and trying to be as available as possible to gather the feedback.

Lessons learned

  • Weekly reports back to the business teams are beneficial in allowing them to be part of the decision-making process. They are equally advantageous for us on the tech and product end as well, to ensure smoother communication.
  • When given the proper communication channels, people will voice their opinions, which is very helpful in the product research.

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