6 Ways To Strengthen The Product Managers & Development Team Relationship In 2021

In the software development and outsourcing scenario, we all have to work from home has somehow impacted the relationship between product managers and their software development teams. 

IT companies were probably more well-prepared than other companies in other industries, especially those IT service provider companies, and offshore development centers. They had been using remote collaboration tools way before the pandemic took place. However, there are still challenges brought up by the coronavirus that the product manager and the engineering teams have to face. 

6 Ways To Strengthen The Product Managers & Development Team Relationship In 2021

This article will explore the top 6 ways to strengthen the relationship between the product managers and the development team in this pandemic scenario.

Working with the software development team in the new normal

Before the pandemic swiped all of us off our feet, the communication between the engineering teams and product development manager is not without difficulty. But the new digital normal has reinforced the challenge even more.

As a management professional or an executive, you must walk a fine line between attending meetings and giving the team breathing space. This balance will affect your final product quality.

As we all know, there are new changes related to the pandemic every day. The product management team must constantly change its roadmap to adapt to changes. In some cases, this is reasonable; but even small changes to the business plan can affect the long-term feature rollout phase for the development teams. If the product team can not consider redirection and variables in advance, both teams could work under pressure.

Accepting the challenge of distributed working environment is true

Remote working offers the flexibility that many employees appreciate; however, WFH can backfire the team working productivity and efficiency if it is not well managed. For distributed software development teams that don’t use these tools for everyday synchronization or scrums, they may forget about the shared vision for future software products. 

While virtual collaboration tools can contribute massively to bridging the gaps between physical co-working environments, at the end of the day, being productive when working at home is a challenge.

Understanding the impact of the challenges

If you want to manage the software development team well, you’ll have to understand how the WFH trend impacts each individual. Empathy is an essential quality for any management professional. Leaders who lack empathy are likely to miss insights about their team members. Especially in the current situation, it is difficult to maintain empathy. Virtual communication often lacks nonverbal communication, leading to detachment. Although the engineering industry is not traditionally known for its empathy, building trust between product managers and software development may require both parties’ effort.

Teams with different wavelengths are more likely to be unproductive. The reasons can be varied, such as loss of team spirit or burnout. Virtual communication changes the way we speak and interact, also the way we feel.

How to strengthen the relationship between software engineers and product manager

Although online meetings must be held constantly to smoothen the communication flow and keep everyone updated, the product managers’ responsibility is to maintain a healthy balance in group talk time. Allowing the engineering team to focus more on the task’s technical aspects will lead to increased productivity. It may worth exploring how you can best communicate to the engineering teams.

Since there are no more water-cooler chats, no more face-to-face communication, a virtual collaboration space can make up for these missing parts. Here is some advice for product managers and software development teams to improve their relationships and employee engagement.

For product managers

  1. Balance and support your mental health to avoid exhaustion for yourself and your team of software engineers.
  2. Constantly engage with your team in key discussions, and ask them about the suggestion for projects’ best practices.
  3. Set out clear boundaries to separate work and private life when working remotely to increase productivity. Not having clear working hours may cause more time to be spent in meetings and eventually will exhaust you.

For software engineers

  1. Actively participate in organizing your daily team collaboration meetings and share things that have worked for you with all team members.
  2. Try to learn more about the product you’re developing and delivering, its customers, and why it’s important. This can help you stay aligned with the project’s goal and provide effective technical solutions.
  3. Keep your product managers up-to-date on what the development team is doing. 
  4. Notify your manager of any bottlenecks as soon as possible.

Key takeaways 

Although both product managers and software engineering teams face challenges during this difficult time, there is still a bright side to it.

In the post-pandemic world, virtual tools can be widely used. This approach can benefit product managers when working with the remote software outsourcing team. When working in the new normal, product managers will have to be able to empathize and patient, and master their skills in prioritization.

Lastly, although the remote working case lacks nonverbal communications, if we can find the opportunity in the adversity, we are all connected closer than ever. No one knows what 2021 will bring us, but since we’re all in this together, we strongly believe that together we can overcome this social-distance challenge.