In order for companies to achieve their digital transformation goals in time, companies need to shift from product development to release quickly. They must have their teams set up for success and in alignment on the overall mission. Teams that are product aligned tend to operate with more agility and momentum than most other types of structured teams. Thus bringing the companies digital transformations to life sooner (hopefully before their competitors).
Product aligned teams operate with a high degree of autonomy. They are responsible for delivering key products, features, or solutions that result in a high return. In fact, one of the key reasons why startups are so disruptive to their industries is due to their ability to be agile and execute the small wins consistently. Most startup companies have teams that are product focused for this reason.
A product aligned team is a cross-functional team involving both business and IT roles. It has end-to-end responsibility for digital development, from a business strategy, innovations and future roadmaps to building solutions to ensuring their maintenance and adoption. No more juggling who's responsible for choosing what digital development to focus on or who is responsible for end-user adoption and change management. The team as a whole is responsible for everything!
Instead of being aligned to a specific technology or organizational silo, it is aligned to a product. This may be a business capability such as sales, marketing or service. It’s typically a matrix team, gathering all the required competences from change management experts to IT architects, developers, and designers working together towards the business objectives and KPIs relevant to the capability.
Product aligned teams have a unique structure to them that lends to their success.
The success of the team isn't mandated whether they built a specific tool or adhered to an approved project plan. The measurement is the impact on real business outcomes as companies undertake digital transformations.
Most digital strategies require businesses and IT teams to have a partnership agreement to work towards mutual goals. Yet in many places, business and teams such as IT are still siloed. Generally the business gives requirements to IT teams. IT teams first seek to understand the request and then begin building a solution. When complete, IT delivers technology back to the business. The business facilitates onboarding training and launches a change management campaign to get their salespeople, customer service representatives, and marketers to adopt a new way of working with the new tools. This sort of a traditional model often emphasises outputs instead of outcomes.
Business priorities change constantly. If work is done in large projects over a long period of time, refocusing efforts to align with business changes can be challenging. For example, think about the time it takes to create a business case, project plan, get funding, and all the different gates of a typical PMO. You don't want to be asking questions after the project is completed such as, "did we build the right thing or not?" These are all common pains that product aligned teams are designed to mitigate.
On a strategic level, companies adopting a product aligned team structure see:
When working with Salesforce customers, I have also witnessed plenty of softer benefits:
And most of all, if you’ve been experimenting with an Agile way of working and struggle to get benefits, reorganising around product aligned teams just might be the answer!