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Collaboration between product managers and engineers

Product vs. Engineering

“I’m working, so why don’t you go do whatever a product manager does”
– Cameron, Halt and Catch Fire

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this show on Netflix, and when that zinger was thrown by the hotshot software engineer, I turned to my husband and started cracking up. “Well, what is it that you guys do?” asked my husband dryly (who is also an engineer). Yup, I’m a product manager who’s married to an engineer!

Even though the primary reason I married him wasn’t to have an in-house engineer to build cool new products I dreamt up (we tried … it failed), we often bring our work home, and talk through the challenges we face in our Scrum team roles.

“Jane said this really easy feature is a GIANT scope. Is she full of it or what?”

“John’s stories NEVER meet the definition of ready! Sprint planning was such a nightmare today.”

As much as venting to an outsider with a sympathetic ear is helpful, getting to hear his perspective as an engineer on my day-to-day work issues is invaluable. Likewise, I know my husband also benefits from my dinner table musings, and has drastically improved his relationships with product owners because he’s able to clearly articulate the kinds of things he needs from them.

Because I’m able to better understand an engineer’s perspective, I believe the way I communicate with the engineers on my team has improved, and the way I write user stories has probably also evolved for the better over time.

understanding team member roles

This revelation has revealed the importance of understanding your team members’ perspectives of the work before you. Each team member plays a very different, but important role, and it’s easy to get lost in your own pile of work. However, it’s crucial for team efficiency and communication that we have some understanding of what our fellow team members are doing. When we take the time to build that understanding, we can approach tasks as a cohesive team, rather than a bunch of people completing related tasks.

This way, we can leave the engineers to their work and go do whatever it is a product manager does. 🙂

Be sure to comment below with some of the ways you’ve grown to understand engineers on your team better and how that’s helped your work.

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