If you are managing a marketing team, you are probably familiar with the experience of working with developers on certain projects. Joint projects between marketing and developers can be challenging for both teams, since they have different work processes and styles. As a result, the two teams often clash.
One of the challenges you likely encountered, is that a dev team is fielding requests from multiple departments, which can sometimes push tasks from your joint project further down on their to-do list. Likewise, miscommunication between the two teams and a lack of understanding of each others’ roles, can get in the way of setting realistic deadlines, meeting each other’s expectations, and being able to collaborate efficiently.
So what can you do to ensure your marketing team can collaborate seamlessly with developers? Keep reading to find out.
1. Empower With Knowledge
We’re not suggesting that the entire marketing team learn how to write complex code, but some information about the process behind the developers’ project-related tasks can help bridge the gap between the two teams. This can prevent a situation where a marketer assumes that a dev task takes less time than it actually does, causing issues in timelines. Developers on the other hand, should be briefed on the purpose of the project as well as results.
- Explain the project purpose: If the purposed of your joint project is to redesign the website, it’s important to make sure the dev team understand why it’s being redesigned. Whether it is to improve SEO or increase sign ups through clearer CTA’s, it’s important the devs understand the importance of their role in the project and how it will benefit the company as a whole.
- Present a case-study: A great way to ensure everyone’s on the same page is to present the dev team with a case study that highlights the project’s purpose and goals. You could include examples of other companies for whom this project worked well. Likewise, you can present them with baseline stats, such as current traffic to the site and conversion rates for signups. Explaining how the project will improve these stats is a powerful motivator.
- Share results: Once the project has launched, keep the dev team in the loop on how effective their accomplishments are in achieving the desired end results. This will give them an opportunity to tweak their work where necessary or change their strategy to better meet the project’s goals.
2. Encourage Communication
When it comes to joint projects, effective communication is crucial. The goal is that all team members feel comfortable bringing up potential issues or roadblocks. Here are a few suggestions to encourage both teams to collaborate through more dialogue:
- Have regular meetings: Whether they are daily scrums (synchronous or asynchronous), weekly sprints, or better yet: both, make it a priority to keep everyone accountable and on the same page.
- Encourage follow up on delays: Ensure everyone understands that they shouldn’t wait around for your weekly meeting if they notice a kink in the chain. It’s very possible that the person responsible for the task doesn’t realise they are blocking the other team from doing their jobs. Encourage both teams to follow up with the relevant person immediately.
- Include everyone in initial strategy and planning: One way to upset a dev team is to have a marketing strategy meeting and emerge with a ‘to do’ list for them. If it’s not possible to have the whole dev team join the meeting, invite at least one representative to participate in evaluating ideas and setting realistic timelines.
- Set goals, KPIs, and deadlines together: In addition to ideas and timelines, ask the dev team to offer their input on project goals and objectives prior to setting them. Unmet expectations on either side could halt progress and productivity.
3. Encourage Transparency
A lack of transparency between two teams is a recipe for delays and issues. Here’s what to do about it:
- Pick a tool: The simple fix is to choose a system that everyone is comfortable with and track your project that way. Different teams plan in different ways, so it can be hard to get full transparency across teams. Having a place to store and share high level project components such as an Excel spreadsheet or Trello board can provide a simple way to check up on overall progress towards the goal. Keep in mind you could also manage your project through other tools such as Asana, Jira, Basecamp, and Wrike.
- Sync both teams’ project boards: If the marketing and development team each work from their own tools, a great way to maximize transparency and ensure seamless collaboration between the two teams is to sync their project boards together using Unito. Syncing boards essentially means connecting them: every bit of information on each board (such as tasks, statuses, deadlines, comments, and labels) will be automatically transferred between each board. It eliminates the need to do it manually yourself, and is a great option if you want to save time and energy.
4. Respect the Processes
One of the biggest mistakes marketers make when working with developers, is assuming the dev team uses the same work processes as they do. Each team has their own cadence, norms, and style that govern how they work. Marketing teams may tackle tasks on a project basis, aligning their workflow around big projects and their release dates. Most web dev teams work on an Agile or Scrum basis, breaking projects up into smaller tasks within one or two-week chunks. If these two processes collide, there can be a lot of friction over whose style should “win” so consider following one style. One way to fix this is to transition your marketing team to start using the Agile process (if they don’t already), since it’s highly effective regardless of whether you are working with developers or not. Here’s a few other tips to keep in mind and ensure the teams collaborate smoothly.
- Stay on top of team planning: If your marketing team plans quarterly, but you have to collaborate with a web dev team that plans weekly, always send a representative to their meetings so that marketing can keep its voice present in the dev team planning.
- Overcommunicate asynchronously: Ensure that all actions and decisions that impact your joint project are communicated swiftly and asynchronously through a project management tool or productivity app. Slack is fantastic if used productively and a huge time waster if it’s not. Make sure every decision that impacts the dev team is communicated as soon as possible, asynchronously (via Slack, productivity apps like Trello and Asana, or email), instead of in a weekly meeting. Meetings are for decisions that need multiple person buy in or complex briefings. They’re not a time for each employee to run through a log of what they did for the past two weeks.
- Meet the other team in the middle: The dev team may be struggling with adapting to your processes and systems as much as you’re struggling with theirs. It’s best to meet them halfway, be patient with explaining the process, and avoid assuming that concepts which are obvious to the marketing team are understood by the dev team.
- Remind both teams the goal: You are working on this project together because you are trying to accomplish something that neither of your teams could do on their own. When the going gets tough, remind both teams that you’re all part of the same company and you’re all working towards the same defined goal. If you can work together well enough, you’ll create something extraordinary.
What are your favourite ways to collaborate with developers? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us @unitoio!