Trends in software tend to mimic the way teams work. Which makes sense: create a solution to a problem, not create a solution, find a problem. And the way teams work has evolved over time. Product development and launch cycles have become compressed due to increased pressure to get products to market, causing teams to rethink their product and application development lifecycle. As a result, the way software and tools teams use, define, develop, test, and launch products have changed. Incongruity between the way your teams work and the tools you use can delay your process.
Born from the new trends in tools and the ways teams work is a new way of talking about both. One example of this is the concept of collaboration. Collaboration is a loaded term. For some, it is a necessity. For others, it is to be avoided at all costs. That is understandable. Merriam-Webster has two very disparate “simple” definitions for collaborate:
1) to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something; and
2) to give help to an enemy who has invaded your country during a war.
Whoa. One has a positive connotation, the other negative. While the second definition is a less common assumption for most, the first can vary in interpretation. For some, collaboration means the leveraging of collective genius, while others envision a sort of Facebook for the enterprise.
To me, I don’t care what you call it—keeping teams aligned, informed, empowered, and up-to-speed—keeping teams executing with a shared understanding of what is being built and why, is essential to delivering products that meet the requirements of your market. Over time, here at Jama, we’ve seen this play out in a couple of different ways. For example, a team may be looking to move more quickly, or Agile*, but they may still be using an antiquated tool that forces teams to use email, word and excel to maintain alignment. Otherwise, a team using an antiquated process may cringe when they hear collaboration, shy away from modern tools, and continue to get outpaced by the competition.
One thing we’ve noticed more and more is that a static requirements repository alone can no longer support complex product development in competitive markets. Teams need a way to ensure they are working of the most up-to-date information, so you don’t build a feature that is no longer a priority or that has changed. Teams need to be able to understand change as it happens so the scope of impact is fully understood. In the end, teams need an actionable system of record to track all of the conversations, questions, comments, and decisions taking place around requirements and specifications to be able to shorten time-to-market with a product that is aligned to company initiatives and customer expectations. Collaboration for collaboration’s sake should be avoided at all costs. However, collaboration for the sake of driving action and maintaining alignment should be embraced.
Author’s note: While collaboration and alignment is critical across many different industries and market segments, it is particularly important to those subject to regulation. Join Jama’s Jess Stetson and Jason Buttron from medical device maker and Jama customer Plexus, for a webinar next Tuesday, May 24 at 10AM PST. Jess and Jason will discuss how to achieve traceability and the role it plays in compliance practices. Reserve your seat >>