Connecting Engineering and Business Teams for Better Products

About this Paper

A key component in building software, hardware, embedded systems and even consumer products in a more agile way is the performance of engineering and business teams. They need to be well-organized and communicate effectively to:

  • Deal with changing requirements.
  • Deliver the product quickly.
  • Respond to market feedback fast.
  • Improve the customer experience with each iteration.
  • Test smarter to maintain quality.

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Often engineering and business groups approach problems differently. Engineering teams recognize that successful products come from iterating, pivoting, moving and failing fast. They build, test, adjust and improve based on the situations they encounter. Business teams focus on planning, predictability and reducing risk. They need a detailed roadmap with everything plotted out to help make sure releases include every feature.

When a shared understanding of product development brings these two teams together, they are able to keep track of all decisions and trade-offs around requirements. Companies, in turn, can build better products through smarter and more efficient processes.

While there are many strategies and solutions geared toward achieving this goal, they all come back to one important fundamental: requirements management, which documents, analyzes, traces and prioritizes all the requirements for building a product. It’s what truly connects business and engineering. Companies tend to think of RM in different ways. It can be waterfall, regulatory or auditory, or kept in a trace matrix or an Excel or Word document that someone must update, hoping the critical information gets in front of the right eyes at the right time.

Whatever the method, RM is what links people to data, conversations, problems, progress and decisions, so everyone has visibility into the product cycle’s up-to-the-minute state. Unfortunately, it can be difficult.

Jama can cut wait times significantly, boosting productivity and getting products into the market faster.

Separation and Frustration

Many companies try to track requirements with their existing systems instead of making it an integral part of a product’s life cycle. When requirements, specifications, test cases, conversations, changes and decisions are all separate, they must manage each action separately. And separation makes it difficult to keep the data flowing between the upstream and downstream work groups. Business and engineering teams struggle to understand what they are building and what they are supposed to be building because they can’t hold to a common vision. Frustration only grows as the product and the organization complexity increases.

Keys to Successful Product Development

An effective and efficient product development solution alleviates frustration and struggle by connecting the engineering and business groups. While the solution must be configurable (companies are not all the same), it must

  • Integrate with, not disrupt, the tools and defined processes already in use to improve workflow.
  • Provide context for every choice and change.
  • Make communication easy, timely and efficient.
  • Establish organizational alignment and awareness for business, engineering and quality assurance and relieve issues.
  • Keep all teams informed, all the time.
  • Expedite decisions and the actions that follow.

A successful product development solution must keep all valuable product data in one secure, central, accessible location. It should house company requirements, test cases, discussions, decisions and other valuable intellectual property in one secure and easy-to-access place. There should no longer be any need to hold this information on laptops or in email, spreadsheets or other documents scattered around the company. With a requirements system of record, companies can maintain alignment with real-time updates across teams and have a single source of truth.

It is also important for a solution to provide stakeholders with a common understanding of what’s being built. The solution should help companies define, collaborate, commit to and sign off on a set of features, requirements and specifications, keeping everyone informed about progress and changes along the way. Traceability, which documents the life of a requirement, lets companies see relationships between requirements and analyze what will happen to the product development process when they make changes to requirements.

Road to ROI 

Because priorities change and product development strategies and tactics evolve, the Jama Software™ product development platform adapts to meet current and future needs of any company that uses it. With the Jama software-as-a-service subscription model, companies have access to an intuitive, specialized tool for managing product development at an accessible price. To manage cost and ensure they are not paying for what they don’t need, companies can pick the levels of services, support and expertise that make sense, and change their needs as they grow.

For each hour product teams work, they can waste multiple hours waiting for clarifications, responses and decisions. Jama can cut wait times significantly, boosting productivity and getting products into the market faster. One global entertainment company has seen as high as a 42:1 benefit-to-cost ratio with Jama. Most organizations can conservatively expect to speed development cycles by at least 50 percent and improve quality by 100 percent or more within the first six months using an RM solution. And that’s just a start. As Jama streamlines the product development process, resources become available and return on investment only grows with new critical capabilities.

Conclusion

How can teams building software, hardware, embedded systems and even consumer products be more agile? Without a continuous improvement process in place, it’s impossible to keep track of data accurately, build at a brisk pace and meet launch goals. RM is vital. Jama is built with configurable features tailored to any discipline. In a nutshell, Jama simplifies both common and complex tasks and creates processes where none existed so that engineering and business teams can work together more efficiently toward more predictable, controllable and desirable results.

10 Challenges a Good Product Development Solution Can Tackle

  1. Engaging the right stakeholders in the most effective, efficient manner (knowing who to involve, when and how)
  2. Tracking product, program and project details while responding to a constant stream of new information
  3. Finding critical information when it’s needed, instead of searching through email, spreadsheets, document management systems, and so on
  4. Keeping teams in sync and updated on what they are planning, building, testing and releasing
  5. Prioritizing and reprioritizing what goes into each release, based on new information, insights and demands
  6. Revisiting decisions and changes because context, discussions or approvals haven’t been captured and aren’t easily accessible
  7. Identifying opportunities to reuse and synchronize projects, items and components to reduce risk and save time
  8. Navigating and mastering the complexity of products, projects, processes, teams and communication
  9. Struggling to delight business customers while juggling overtaxed resources and tight deadlines
  10. Ensuring on-time, within-budget development of the right product