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Everything You Need to Know About Digital Product Teams

September 22, 2022

Building a product requires a team with different technical abilities and for sure, team work. Since the 1980s, new product development has been perceived as a team work by contemporary theorists. For instance, check this 1986 article: The New Product Development Game which suggests every product should be built by a holistic team to achieve success. The article was written by Hirotaka Takeuchi, who influenced the development of Scrum framework as a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, and Ikujiro Nonaka, who works on knowledge management as a professor emeritus at the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy of the Hitotsubashi University. 

Their theory contributes to the fundamentals of today’s most used digital product development understandings. 

Their holistic approach is expressed by 6 characteristics:

  1. Built-in instability.
  2. Self-organizing teams.
  3. Overlapping development phases.
  4. Multilearning.
  5. Subtle control.
  6. Organizational transfer of learning.

Many others contribute to the idea of a holistic team earlier and after. Besides traditional development and management theories, contemporary practices require collaborative efforts of high-skilled individuals. Digital product development needed a team which works in harmony as an orchestra. That’s why it suggested building holistic teams which include different backgrounds and skill-sets at this time of the history.

Besides, relying on one person to solve the entire digital product is not typically a good idea. Even if the person has all required technical skills, there will be probably negative consequences for the outcome, time-to-market and knowledge retention.

From the idea to the launch, every step of digital product development affected by how good the digital product team is. In this article we will focus on digital product teams from what it is to how to construct them, what to consider while building, when to grow, etc. We tried to cover all concerns regarding product teams.

What is a Product Team?

Product teams are small, collaborative, cross-functional units that work together to create an amazing digital product. By cross-functional, we imply that this team covers all aspects of planning, design, and engineering without any help from outside of the team.

A strong product development team is at the heart of every great product. Product development teams are in charge of analyzing client demands, developing new products, and bringing them to market. In addition to deciding what to develop, they convey the advantages and assess the product’s performance. The ultimate objective is to provide value to users while also supporting the business.

In current notion, almost all product development approaches focus on delivering products to the market as fast as possible. So product teams ideally aim to deliver as fast as possible. Dedicated teams include a group of individuals who have come together to cover different roles that are required to create digital products. İnstead of each individual’s personal skills, their harmony and how they complete each other is important. That’s why there is almost no hierarchy within these teams, each individual brings a distinct skill set and viewpoint to the process. 

A great product development team is composed of people from various backgrounds and with diverse responsibilities. This process was facilitated by creating a small team that has the skill set to take on multiple responsibilities. This type of approach does away with the old fashioned way of doing business, where teams were divided into silos based on their expertise. The digital product team is more productive, more efficient, and more effective at bringing ideas to life.

What are the Roles in a Digital Product Team?

As we mentioned above, digital product development isn’t a one person job. It requires the strength of a collaborative team to succeed. Every team member brings their own set of skills to the product development table, and it takes a well-developed team to deliver the best in the short amount of time.

Necessary roles in a digital product can be performed by 2-3 people or there are many people responsible for just one, maybe a large organization has specialized product teams for each feature of the product while a startup chooses to outsource a small product team. It depends on a variety of different factors. Type and scope of the work are 2 main ones. 

So, product teams can take many forms and sizes, but there are a few important functions that must be covered. We’ll go through each one, as well as the responsibilities that accompany the position.

First of all, core functions in a digital product team are product management, product design and product development:

Product management. It is a critical function in charge of developing the product vision and strategy, setting the roadmap, and translating user and market demands to the team.

Product design. It is a role that cannot be irreplaceable these days, as people are more demanding of the product experience, which includes usability, engagement, and enchantment.

Product developers’ main responsibility is to plan, test, and create an application that fits requirements. They must develop rapidly in order to allow for early iteration while retaining high quality.

These are not unchangeable. Some cases should require multiple designers, some require different development teams.

There are also additional digital product roles: product owner, Q&A, product marketing, product analytics, research, etc. 

How to Structure a Digital Product Team?

Many businesses struggle to effectively arrange their product teams in order to boost and optimize productivity. In essence, one of the most critical parts of this operation is the organizational structure.

Teams often follow one of these three principles when deciding their product team structure:

  • Product ownership
  • Skills-based 
  • Product squads

When it comes to the size of the team, there are not many different thoughts in general discourse. To keep your team agile, you should keep product development teams small. This is because effective team communication may become difficult and unmanageable in a large team. You’d probably heard before Jeff Bezos suggested the 2 Pizza Rule. This is a practice that adheres product teams to be so small that two pizzas can easily feed them. In small, agile teams, you’ll have the ability to react quickly to user needs and gather user data at every step of the way. But the important point is to create the right skill set to deliver faster. 

5 Things You Need To Pay Attention When Construct A Product Team

  • Designers and developers, in particular, should collaborate closely.
  • When possible, a product team should include more than one developer.
  • Every member of a product team bears joint responsibility for the output and is encouraged to ask questions or provide input.
  • The whole product team, not just test engineering, is responsible for quality.
  • Create an emotionally comfortable environment in which individuals can contribute and collaborate at their best.

Wrapping Up

It’s well worth your while to take some time to evaluate the capabilities and experience of your team members. The more qualified they are, the better the products will be.

Of course, as with everything else we discussed, there is no one size fits all method for what a product team should be. But it’s clear that a team with the proper skill set and motivation will create an excellent digital product.

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