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Op-Ed: Building a Product Dream Team

In my experience working with both enterprises and budding start-ups, I’ve led product teams of all sizes and shapes. However, no matter what the structure is, they all share a common goal: Every product team needs to deliver solutions to solve a business problem for customers.

Since providing an exceptional customer experience is a primary driver for any product department, a company’s offerings will only get better when it compiles the right product team. By assembling a “product dream team,” you can take your company from good to great – and stand out from the competition.

Designing a Product Team 

Before assembling the ideal product team, it’s imperative to understand what qualities make a team successful. A diverse group of individuals with varying skill sets and expertise will create the strongest team, as differing viewpoints can spark greater innovation and inspire better problem solving processes.

Since product teams oversee the process of designing and building products that customers need and want, it’s important to select team members with personality traits that best suit product development. For instance, look to bring on individuals that possess a strong sense of empathy, as they can be helpful with identifying and addressing customer pain points, leading to better product enhancements. Product teams also need individuals with strong interpersonal skills, as open and honest communication is key when it comes to running a dream team.

Once the right people are on board, the next step is connecting them through effective collaboration.

Giving Everyone a Seat at the Table

Product managers are the backbone of a company’s strategic direction, sitting at the nexus of users, engineering, design, and research teams. However, the traditional structure is siloed, separating these unique teams for a majority of the design and build process. Historically, when developing a new project, engineers, designers, and project managers meet together for occasional product check-ins and updates, stifling communication throughout the rest of the build process.

Companies can build a product dream team by establishing collaboration and open communication between these unique teams, particularly engineering and product. Giving everyone involved in the product development process a seat at the table reduces miscommunication, delays in production, and costly errors.

At Crayon, this collaboration between teams is amplified. Being a smaller team, myself and the VP of Engineering are involved in guiding the planning process. Communication between teams is free-flowing, and allows us to swiftly move through projects and accurately estimate timelines, setting expectations within the company and for customers.

Enhancing the Customer Experience

Once a dream team is established, the next step is to provide the team with the tools and knowledge needed for success. For product teams to be effective in a crowded marketplace, it is important for businesses to understand your product’s competitive advantages against others in the market. This can be achieved through competitive product analysis using competitive intelligence.

Competitive intelligence (CI) offers the opportunity to evaluate competitors’ products, identifying their strengths, weaknesses, and current position in the market. CI also determines how your own product stacks up, identifying gaps, room for improvement, and more.

In your product team, there should be an understanding of how to incorporate CI intel to build a stronger roadmap. An ideal dream team has members who are closely tracking the customer pain points and the market – including the competition – to better understand their product’s market position. The insights that can be incorporated into your roadmap make for a stronger product which should satisfy customers, especially if the enhancements that are made are directly related to ease of use.

Dream Team in Action

Now that your team is established and has the tools they need to execute, it’s time to put everything in action. In the end, a product dream team builds the best possible product for the end-user, fulfilling the overall goal of product development. With the right team members, effective collaborative efforts, and key supporting tools like CI, your product team can be transformed into a true dream team.

OP-ed Disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article by Erica Jenkins, CPO at Crayon. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.

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