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Ensuring all your teams work together as a single unit

Company Culture
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Feedback
Motivation
Team Processes
Health / Stress / Burn-Out

6 December, 2017

Elanchelvan Elango
Elanchelvan Elango

VP of Engineering at Zeta Global

Elan discusses how he got teams in his company to effectively collaborate together to reduce the engineering team’s burnout and to improve the standard of software products the company was producing.

Problem

In any enterprise software application, there are multiple teams involved in the development, release and support.. In my company, I was leading an engineering team who was performing really well, but engineers felt burned out. There was a vicious circle between:

  • Engineers who were making most of the decisions about designing software, without collaborating with other teams because they thought they preferred doing things for themselves than taking the time to explain how to do things to others.
  • Other teams (Product Management, User Experience, Support, QA, Documentation, etc) felt left out, as they were not being included in the decision-making process.
  • When a new feature request needs to be developed, engineering team typically built it with minimum requirements and tossed it over the the QA team to test. QA team would then begrudgingly test and send it to the Release team. The documentation would be done in the last minute as a bonus, most of the time the content would be provided by the engineering team. There would be little to no instructions for the Support team once it goes live..

Actions taken

I decided to meet with all of the leads of the teams involved (Product Management, User Experience, QA,, Documentation, Release and Support, QA). I asked them how I could help them to collaborate more efficiently, and underlined that I knew they had a lot to contribute. I also let them know that I really wanted feedback in terms of how the engineering team could improve. People really opened up when they were asked for their feedback, but highlighted how they hadn't previously been able to participate very much in product development. Based on feedback from the team leads, I decided that design sessions should be kept to a very strict agenda, and that they should involve all of the relevant teams, including people in support and documentation roles. When we launched a product that the teams had worked together to develop, the product was fantastically received, and our documentation was impeccable. In addition, I also organized some team lunches to restore trust between the teams. Slowly, people started appreciating each other more, as the work they were producing was of a much better quality.

Lessons learned

Ensure you always involve all of the different teams in your organization. Each team in an organization is there for a reason, and each will have something to contribute. If teams work together efficiently, the products and software the company will perform better, and the product will be made to a better standard.

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