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Product teams: Who works on what and for how long?

By Jodie Hopperton


Los Angeles, California, United States


One of the biggest challenges I see, particularly in larger organisations, is duplication of work or, worse, people working on similar issues at cross purposes. 

In product, it’s not always easy to decide who should work on the development of a product or feature or, more accurately, the problem that needs to be solved. The first step in this process is agreeing what the known problems are — not just in product, but having a shared view across the entire organisation. Having this shared view makes it a lot easier to figure out which teams have the tool kits to solve the issues at hand. 

Matching product team members to the right tasks isn't difficult when you consider qualitative and quantitative analysis, as well as time and resources.
Matching product team members to the right tasks isn't difficult when you consider qualitative and quantitative analysis, as well as time and resources.

This is a lot more simple than it sounds. To understand user problems, or consumers where the business wants to be, there needs to be both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Why both? Because quantitative data, particularly audience data, means we only see what users are doing within the confines they have been given and because we see what they are doing — but not why they are doing it.

Using qualitative studies, we can delve into why users act in a certain way. Qualitative data gives so much insight but can’t be used standalone as it can be misleading if not supported by quantitative data (as we saw with saved articles in my last newsletter). 

Once there is consensus, it makes it easier to match skillsets or amend/add to projects already in motion. These aren’t always product-led, but someone from the product team can be appended to add value and avoid duplication. And, of course, some problems go to the person most passionate, or most vocal, which isn’t always a bad thing.

Another consideration is how much time and resource goes into any project. As humans, it’s all too easy to get invested in a project all the way through to completion, despite unexpected hurdles along the way. Sometimes we need to check ourselves and make sure the effort is still in line with the reward. One way of doing this is time boxing problems/solutions and re-evaluating at the end of the given time. 

Another approach I’ve seen recently is having a small team focus solely on “small things” that arise so other product teams don’t get distracted. Another company had an actual formula for effort vs. value. 

Organisation culture comes into play with all of the above, but having that upfront understanding of issues makes everything else so much easier. 

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About Jodie Hopperton

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