13 Cross-Functional Teams Product Managers Should Get to Know
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Transcendent product managers excite and inspire. They galvanize their cross-functional partners through collaboration. They want to hear their ideas and incorporate them to bring the best products to market that will serve a purpose and improve humanity.
Productive organizations possess numerous qualities that contribute to their effectiveness. However, one pivotal aspect, the cornerstone, surpasses all others. This crucial aspect entails the leadership and cross-functional teams actively nurturing and cultivating a customer-centric culture, placing the customer at the heart of decision-making processes. As a result, this approach fosters strengthened partnerships, alliances and teamwork across all departments and teams within the organization.
Here are the 13 cross-interdisciplinary teams that every product leader should get to know and partner with:
1. Technical Support
When I join a new company, the technical support team is the first group of people I seek out because they are the eyes and ears of the organization. They are closer to customers and genuinely comprehend customer pain points and needs from onboarding to servicing. They can provide additional requirements and introductions to power users when we need in-person or virtual interviews and focus groups.
2. Customer Success/Relationship Managers
When I join a new organization, these people are the second team I meet with. I take time to shadow them on customer calls and in-person visits. These teams have a historical context on customers because they have a personal relationship built on trust. I always learn more about the customer and the issues they might be experiencing. This act helps me to put myself in the customers’ shoes. These connections are critical as they interact with customers every day, and they can help me understand pain points and use cases I hadn’t considered.
My PMM (Product Marketing Manager) is my work best friend. I invite them to customer events that I lead, such as advisory boards, focus groups, and so on. My partnership with them means they can help with messaging and gathering competitive analysis. They share insights to help with understanding my product or feature‘s story and value proposition. I can transform that knowledge into powerful communications for current and future new customers.
4. Sales Team
The sales team is acquainted with the vernacular language of prospects. Consequently, they can support my team and me in our discovery and research endeavors by thoroughly understanding how the new product or feature stacks up in the marketplace, among competitors, pricing, and a strategic business perspective.
5. Data Scientist
My data scientist partner and I will use data to make our determinations, and specific performance indicators will be used to gauge the effectiveness of those choices. Communication and coordination lead to understanding the metrics we want to track for the new product or feature, such as customer satisfaction, adoption, and engagement. Working with a data scientist will help me to ascertain that we have the correct benchmarks to track feature and product metrics, and they align with our north star metric, which should also align with our organization‘s mission and values.
One of my favorite teams to partner up with is finance. They help implement pricing and extrapolate how my product and its features are doing financially. By meeting with them regularly, I can better deduce the financial health of my product and whether we are meeting our profit targets, revenue by client renewals vs new sales, churns, upgrades, downgrades, cash flow, and valuation. They provide me and my leadership with the complete financial picture of my product.
7. UX Researcher
They are adept at sorting out the user needs and actions that enable products and services to be more intuitive, intelligible, and user-friendly. I cannot express how significant this relationship and alliances are with this team. They also provide actionable data and insights from their research efforts. Their work helps me and my colleagues to recognize and appreciate customer needs and marketplace developments, which in turn assist in building and launching products that meet the needs of our customer segment.
8. UX Designer
While I am focused on the business, they are immersed in understanding the user perspective and user experience. I cherish my relationship with my design partner. For the relationship to work, there must be effective communication, transparency, and, most importantly, trust. I share the good and the bad with them, and I ensure they are included in all my meetings with customers and partner dependency teams, and leadership. Furthermore, I share product vision, strategy, customer and business value, metrics, and data, which go a long way in finding creative solutions to problems.
9. Content Designers & Conversational Designers
In some organizations, these teams are part of the UX organization. Copartnership with these teams means I bring to fruition a more intuitive product that my customers will want to use. Content designers are experts at composing effective content for websites and platforms. Conversational designers are responsible for the entire user experience of a chatbot. They help to identify a chatbot’s impetus and design its UI/UX experience and content approach.
This is another team where transparency and trust are extremely important. I work with my scrum team and technical lead to define the features and requirements, estimate the efforts, and plan sprints and releases. I also ensure they are invited to meetings to understand how our customers use our products and services. I make sure I understand their end-to-end journey and any other tools they use to accomplish their task, essentially to learn their jobs to be done.
As I explain product features, I always include my partners on our legal teams to ensure the new experiences and technologies meet compliance expectations. For me, this is crucial in other countries since my product is sold globally. In addition, they safeguard that we are also meeting the requirements for regulated businesses.
12. Security (IT)
There is one team that I always bring to product kick-off meetings: my security partner. I need their guidance and counsel to safeguard our team in building a secure product that today is paramount. My security team partner will provide advice to mitigate substantial and sizable business threats and perils.
13. PMO (Project Management Office)
The accountabilities are equivalent to program managers, but they lead at an individual project level. This strategic relationship is vital because my PMO partner will work with me to track resource allocation, risks, and hindrances. I can also count on them to escalate and bring together the team and their leadership if necessary.
(Bonus!)14. Behavioral Product Managers
If you are a product manager lucky enough to have a behavioral product manager on your team, I envy you. I hope you are partnering with them to understand how to utilize what we know about human psychology and product consumption information to help you design products and features that will deliver value to your client base.
Product managers are at the heart of every organization. Our products and services are efficacious because we collaborate effectively with our multidisciplinary partners. We want and need their thoughts, ideas, and concepts because that is the only way we will build products that will be of value to our customers. Maybe, just maybe, we can add to the footprint of products that have and continue to enhance society.