Here’s a problem I bet every non-technical founder has experienced: the communication gap between what the biz dev team wants and what the tech team thinks they want, and vice versa. It’s disruptive, and for founders, very frustrating to watch.
The thing is, everyone is actually working toward the same end goals – or at least they should be. So why is it so hard to get these departments on the same page, collaborating in peace? To find out, I ask 12 founders from YEC the following:
How can I get my business development team and my tech team to work more harmoniously with each other?
“This event was off the charts”
Gary Vaynerchuk was so impressed with TNW Conference 2016 he paused mid-talk to applaud us.
Their answers are below.
1. Cross Train Members
Because they have two totally different roles, the business development team and the tech team often don’t understand each other’s hurdles and objectives very well. It is very important to cross train departments so that they work harmoniously with each other.
Even simply spending a day shadowing a department team member can bring a whole new level of respect, and it can produce solutions to existing problems by bringing in a new perspective.
– Phil Chen, Givit
2. Build Trust
You need to build trust between these teams. The business development team needs to see the customer feedback they deliver make it back into the product, and the tech team needs to see reasonable requests to develop new features without a constant stream of changing direction.
3. Restructure Your Organization
If you are having problems with your tech and business development team working efficiently, the real problem could be a result of a poorly structured organization.
Identify the key drivers of your business, and break it down into specialized teams accordingly. Give those teams the resources they need to be successful — both in business development and tech personnel.
4. Consider Using a Liaison
Successful collaboration between a company’s business development and product development requires mutual understanding and purpose.
Make an effort to share the reasons and motives of each side with the other. Build mutual purpose and respect by sharing how they are both different parts of the same team aspiring to the same goal. Mutual purpose is very powerful.
A liaison between the two sides can be very helpful. This person should understand the biases, behaviors and motives of each side and translate that into messages that the other side can understand and act on.
– Andrew Thomas, SkyBell
5. Practice Agile Development
We practice agile development principles, and having the constant feedback between business and development that agile suggests is key to successful integration of the two teams.
6. Incorporate 15Five Reports
We love 15Five reports. Everyone on our team spends 15 minutes filling out a weekly report, and I spend five minutes reviewing them. It keeps everyone on the same page.
I review all reports and create one main report for the team to show the highs and lows in different departments. This makes people more aware of what their team members are up to and creates more harmony.
– Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.
7. Create a P/C/S Document
The disconnect between the business decision-makers and the IT team is the understanding of what needs to be done and when. Business people care about the bottom line, while the tech team understands limitations much more.
One way to remain on the same page at all times is to plead your case by conjuring up a problem/cost/solution document that overviews the importance of the task or item at hand. These documents will help both teams better understand each topic and will help with the prioritization process.
– Logan Lenz, Endagon
8. Hire T-Shaped People
Make sure to hire T-shaped individuals. You want your tech team to have some business savvy individuals on it and your business team to have some tech savvy on it. Without both, you’re going to have a bad time.
– Wade Foster, Zapier
9. Align Them From the Start
At Red Branch, we stress that employees’ skills have distinct market values. As an agency, that market value increases when we pool those skills to create an implementable strategy for our clients.
Signing on new clients is no less or more valuable that writing the blog content for that client or making sure the ad buy goes off without a hitch. Skills only increase in market value when they are packaged together – not when picked apart – which is something we underline daily so that our team remains aligned in one mission for our clients.
– Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media
10. Adjust the Workflow
Workflow solutions can make a huge impact on the productivity of a team if the communication is well-facilitated. Systems such as Scrum can help separate departments communicate effectively, and that is an absolute necessity.
– Daniel Wesley, Creditloan.com
11. Maintain a Mutual Understanding
Make sure your business development team knows where the product is in its production and that they are in line with its development cycle.
Business development teams want to make a sale, and often, they push the tech team to do something that isn’t in the schedule. Forcing the tech team to switch direction regularly causes more disruption and delays than if the tech team were to proceed and build as they originally planned. Tech teams also need to understand that without business development, there is no revenue to pay their salaries.
– Alex Friedman, Ruckus
12. Create a Culture of Collaboration
Create a culture of collaboration by allowing each team member to have ownership in his area. This responsibility will make each person care more about the work.
Also, create a vision for the project. Explain to employees where they will be if it is successful. Paint a picture of a future they all want to work toward together. When a team perceives a common goal, it will naturally unite to work toward it. Always think about what’s in it for them, and remind them of the long-term rewards.
– Gideon Kimbrell, InList Inc