The intermingling of techies and product teams should not be neglected in startups

18th Feb 2016
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The big expectations held from small teams make it necessary to keep the motivation levels high in a startup. It also means that the synchronization and inter-dependence between these small teams act as a critical factor in promoting rapid growth.

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Where the lingos meet: Broadly speaking, the product team decides what needs to be implemented, whereas the tech team is responsible for how that something is implemented. As our product guys speak to potential partners every day, they regularly face queries like, “Is your product compatible with our API?” and “What technical modifications would be required in the product to run XYZ marketing campaign?” Closing the deal can be hard if one has to constantly tell these people that the tech team needs to be consulted first. Similarly, we also encounter demands that our product may not be able to immediately meet and these requirements need to be incorporated within a certain timeline. I am sure that a lot of fellow tech startups can relate to such scenarios. The solution lies in the fact that both teams must work in tandem with each other to conduct business smoothly. In order to make things work, they need to adapt to each other’s language, behaviour, approach to solving problems, and working style.

Dreams clash with reality: It is understandable that entrepreneurs want functions to begin right now. But we have learnt that keeping your feet on the ground is a must and the ideas and execution need to meet somewhere halfway. Both teams need to come to an understanding on what is achievable to get things started and priorities need to be set accordingly. We all want to deliver a product that handles all the complexities at the backend and keeps it incredibly simple for the user. The harmony between the techies and the product people is what allows us to move towards this goal through small, feasible tasks.

The incredible learning process: The benefits of such a culture do not merely extend to the product. We have also seen ourselves grow as professionals while working closely in such a cross-functional environment. The product guys have begun to appreciate the algorithm-centred mindset and structured approach of the tech team. It is also a heady experience to see the product unfold right in front of your eyes; the original objective and motivation is never lost in the layers of hierarchy. On the other hand, the tech team finds it refreshing to be always updated on what the consumer wants; the other teams, in fact, act as an intermediary between the real world and the domain of codes. Knowing the solution to a problem is not enough, the other teams allow the techies to convert these solutions into a usable product by utilising their understanding of the extensive market research and customer psyche!

Peeking outside: Large organisations can be quite different from startups in this respect. The typical process for introducing a new product in established companies includes:

  • The stakeholders conceptualise the new project based on the needs of the consumer.
  • The product team refines the requirements, the look and feel of the product and document these in a PRD (product requirements document) or a SRS (software requirements specification).
  • This documentation is handed over to the tech team, who produce a SDD (software design document) for the approval of the product teams. Meanwhile, the design team creates a UI mock-up for the product.
  • They begin work on the software, and a representative of the product team assumes a managerial role to check their progress till the completion.
  • The proposed product often gets put in the pipeline and gets delayed because of other projects being more urgent.

Journeying together can make everyone understand what is achievable and what is not; it is all about optimising and prioritising our time, effort, cost, and resources. The world of servers and modules cannot remain exclusive to the technology teams in startups like us. The combined vision should be to build a product and accelerate the collision between great ideas and people along with influencing the productivity of the company, community, and learning.

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Authors
Ronak Gupta
Ronak Gupta is the Co-founder and CEO of Routofy, which allows people to make end-to-end travel bookings for their journeys for a combination of flights, buses, and cabs.

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