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With organizations scaling rapidly and teams becoming increasingly remote, improving the practice of collaboration is harder than ever to get right and easier to push down on the list of priorities.
But when there is a lack of collaboration (both between teams and within them), detrimental effects can ripple through product development and into the core of the business.
In Placing collaboration at the heart of your technical projects, various scenarios are explored: from unifying designers and developers to asynchronous communication for globally distributed teams. The series identifies potential solutions to the challenges of aligning teams and highlights why it is more important than ever to put collaboration at the forefront of leading your engineering team.
When an engineering team can’t meet in the same room or on the same Zoom call, it’s difficult to efficiently scale collaboration across multiple teams on expansive projects. But championing visibility in an organization can help overcome this.
This conversation revolved around how transparency can empower engineers to collaborate better, with our panelists – Raul Herbster, (Engineering Manager at Spotify), Marco Alacot Torres (Director of Engineering at Flywire) and Cormac Foster (Senior DevOps Evangelist at GitLab) – and moderator – Jackie Luo (Software Engineer at Square) discussing their own experiences of building a culture of visibility.
During this discussion, our panelists explored:
- The way their teams communicate and collaborate outside of meetings;
- Ways to solve the issue of discovery;
- How to scale collaboration when it hasn’t worked;
- How to collaborate with different teams and balance different objectives;
- How to prioritize and avoid overload;
- How to balance the push and pull of knowledge sharing.
In this article, Virginie Caplet faces the issue of a lack of collaboration between Design and Development head-on. When designers and developers do not work well together, nobody wins. And this includes the users. But Virginie believes that bridges can be built. Using the foundations of empathy, a shared vulnerability, and a desire to do the right thing, these two teams can unite to accelerate the velocity of their product development.
Virginie assesses the problems that have led to the clashing between Design and Development teams, and then discusses practical solutions. She suggests how to turn the theory of building bridges into practice, with guidance on sketching, pairing, personas, and more.
Cormac Foster is a Senior DevOps Evangelist at GitLab: a company that has been ‘all-remote since its inception’. So for GitLab, efficient collaboration has always been critical to the way that they work. Cormac takes the reader through his organization’s processes. He provides tips and tricks on what has worked for them, and explores the impact that those decisions have had on the wider company.
Cormac covers cross-functional teams and the importance of an SSoT (Single Source of Truth), explaining that, ‘Different groups will always have needs, and not all of those can be aligned, but everyone should commit to a common understanding of customer value and a bias toward hard data.’
Cormac then expands on the idea that ‘collaboration is not consensus’ through GitLab’s concept of Directly Responsible Individuals, and its partnering practice, Minimal Viable Change. By thinking small when it comes to large-scale collaboration, transparency and rapid feedback can be achieved to instate a global, collaborative team.
For Riana Lynn and her team, ‘asynchronous working is part of [their] DNA’. With colleagues across three continents, Riana knows better than most the importance of collaboration, and the positive effect that asynchronicity can have on engineers and their work.
Riana covers the A-Z of this way of working. She explores the challenges that arise from scaling a global team, the reframing of synchronous meetings, the tools that are needed for optimum asynchronicity, and the significance of your engineers thinking in the long-term.
Throughout her article, Riana shows that when it comes to managing distributed teams, the flexibility that asynchronous working provides allows for better group engagement, faster problem-solving, and efficient communication that can help teams move ahead of the curve.
A final takeaway
As Cormac Foster highlighted in his article, ‘Complex applications, conflicting business priorities, and a mountain of incoming data have made collaboration increasingly difficult, but even more critical.’
It is clear that the speed the tech industry moves at, combined with the increasing number of distributed engineering teams, means that placing collaboration at the heart of technical projects should be topping every engineering leader’s to-do list. The content that is provided in this series gives the guidance to achieve this and align teams no matter where they are in the world.