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Managing and Eliminating Cross-Team Dependencies

Team Processes
Cross-Functional Collaboration

11 February, 2022

Ricardo Aravena
Ricardo Aravena

Infrastructure Engineering Manager at Rakuten Rewards

Ricardo Aravena, Infrastructure Engineering Manager at Rakuten Rewards, shares some of the best practices of dealing with the cost of cross team dependencies.

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly Sides of Team Dependencies

Working in a cross-functional environment, team dependencies are inevitable. When I was working cross-functionally, the team was working on a monolith and we were releasing features in a slow cadence. If we brought in a small change, all the other teams needed to be informed. It led to missed deadlines, chaotic context switching, non-stop meetings and some other undesirable effects.

A Heuristic for Managing Dependencies

Soon enough we knew that we needed to be more pragmatic, and instead of blocking individuals' way, we implemented strategic, uninterrupted initiatives.

As we moved to a microservices architecture, we created an automated framework to test them. Every time the team had to release something, they no longer had to rely on manual testing. Additionally, the framework also helped our team in breaking down our monolith components into more distributed parts. We were also leveraging GitHub actions to deploy applications to Kubernetes AWS Lambda.

Manage People Based On Their Seniority

  • People working in teams usually have different skill levels. Senior engineers are likely to be needing high-level coaching to get a hold of everything, while juniors they would need to be more trained thoroughly. Understand the differences between these two.
  • Allow your team to provide their input and then to make changes in the process.

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