Building Trust Through Software Delivery: How to Make Friends with Your Product Team

“If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business” 

- Scott Stratten

developers laughing


Engineering organizations are the lifeblood of the business. The software we ship and how we ship it – on time or late, with or without defects, to specs or off the mark – fundamentally impacts the entire business's success. How well engineering performs affects everyone, from individual developers to their counterparts in marketing, sales, and their leaders, and their ability to do their part in contributing to their company's success. We’re all familiar with the many moving parts — and people there are that need to be highly tuned and orchestrated to plan, build, release and sell products. When one of those parts is misaligned, effects ripple across the organization. So, it's all the more unfortunate when engineering is out of step with the rest of the business. 

In my experience, engineering is often misunderstood. As a result, it’s held apart from the other business functions – seen as a mysterious black box that sometimes builds good software or bad and delivers on time or doesn’t and it’s hard to discern why it changes. Sadly, this can lead to broken trust and lost confidence between departments because of poorly managed expectations resulting in missed deadlines and inconsistent or absent reporting. This misalignment between business priorities and engineering output is often cited as one of the most significant challenges facing engineering leaders. 

Why the relationship between product and engineering matter as much as the code

Allstacks is on a mission to create strong relationships between product teams, engineering, and the rest of the company through data. Or more accurately, through providing greater context about how teams deliver software leveraging the disparate data available today. 

In addition to critical metrics and intelligent forecasting for product and engineering leaders, we provide curated insights for business stakeholders to get a glimpse into the workings of their engineering team and understand their processes and progress in real-time. By being transparent in this way, product stakeholders gain an understanding of what is impacting engineering and in turn they develop empathy.  All of this together builds the trust, reliability, and predictability necessary for strong communication and healthy relationships across the organization. Think about how simply building a strong relationship with your product stakeholders could not just impact your ability to deliver but also your satisfaction in doing so. 

Definitely better than the status quo, am I right?

When marketing leaders can understand exactly when to expect a release (or learn otherwise early enough to adjust the course), they can plan campaigns and customer communications accordingly. When executives can determine exactly why a feature is delayed, they can leverage their tools to recruit the right resources for support and deliver informed updates to the board and investors. 

Prioritizing friendships over analyzing engineering metrics

In the end, it’s not really about metrics. Instead, it’s about building friendships based on trust and reliability. I see the power of the Allstacks platform through the lens of how relationships evolve. 

As humans, we form trusted bonds through progressive disclosure. First, we exchange names, then basic facts on our backgrounds, then our weekend plans. We now have a pool of data for decision-making. 

Even better, we can find common ground with this information: perhaps we both play tennis or love vintage American cars. This helps us make sense of our new friend and learn how we each respond in different situations, these casual conversations allowing us to develop patterns on which we can introduce new ideas into our relationship – much like machine learning and AI. 

Now there is predictability in our friendship, providing a mutual sense of trust and reliability. That gives us the ability to optimize our behavior based on what we know – so we can continuously improve and course correct. Finally, the relationship we’ve built allows us both to take action confidently. 

A product with friendship built-in 

The exact process of sharing information and establishing reliability should unfold between engineering and the other business functions at every software company. Allstacks was built with this spirit of transparent disclosure at the heart of the product. By collecting the millions of data points available to us about how engineering teams plan, estimate, build and release software, we can learn those patterns of behaviors, cause, and effect that allow us to predict future outcomes more accurately. 

With this reporting, team members across the organization have a shared understanding of progress without any manual effort. We can rely on that solid relationship we’ve built within our organization to communicate what is going on more effectively, align on priorities, and make decisions more confidently without surprises that derail momentum (or revenue). 

Avoiding the dreaded "Surprise Failure"

When relationships sour it’s rarely an acute event that creates negativity. Instead, it’s what led up to the event. Our friends and colleagues want us to be successful (that’s fundamental to our friendship), and denial of their help or buy-in can seed distrust. 

Often we try to resolve our issues on our own until they become too large to handle or too late to rescue. As a result, when we finally communicate what is true, it conflicts with the story we’ve been telling all along. It’s the ‘surprise failure'.

At that moment, we’ve damaged the work that went into building patterns of reliability and trust.

Allstacks helps engineering identify these challenges early and provides a framework to communicate and manage expectations when things are changing (for better or worse). In the end, engineering is better able to fully integrate with the rest of the business, establish patterns of predictability and trust, and form high-quality relationships that are the foundation for high-performing teams.

- Hersh 

Ready to see how Value Stream Intelligence helps align your teams and deliver true customer value without a lengthy implementation, process change, or mental gymnastics?


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