Beyond Product: Designing a cross collaborative team workflow
How our teams at Tamanna, in different timezones and countries, are nurturing interdisciplinary collaboration while also giving a glimpse of our approach.
Building context — Tamanna is a multi-brand online fashion marketplace in the Middle-east. We have teams located in different parts of the world — Lisbon is the home of our Product, Engineering and Data teams, whereas Dubai is home to our Marketing, Commercial and Creative teams. And finally our Operations team is based in Kuwait, the country where we first launched.
Collaborating in a start-up with multiple teams in different locations (during a pandemic), comes with its own set of challenges. But with challenges come opportunities — this situation has enabled us to tailor moments that keep everyone in the team well informed and aligned to Tamanna’s strategic vision.
Another key advantage of promoting Cross collaboration is Diversity. Perks of having an international team is having an assembly of different cultures and backgrounds that brings different perspectives. Fostering this culture of diversity benefits our Product while creating an understanding and respect for unique traditions between the team members.
Setting the sails right : Our Why
Our key intention is to provide well designed, sustainable and comprehensive product experience to our customers and our stakeholders and strategically aligning our business objectives.
To meet this objective we’ve iterated as a team on a framework that can creatively fuel our product ambitions while simultaneously fulfilling our business needs.
Establishing a new collaborative process can be chaotic in the beginning, especially when creating it with people that haven’t physically met. However, it tends to benefit teams in the long run:
- It solidifies trust between the team;
- Teams become well acquainted with each other, their roles, methods, and processes;
- Promotes transparency and accountability on goals and objectives;
- Keeps us well informed about the strategy, ever changing behaviours and trends;
- Keeps us aligned with company vision and OKRs.
Framing the right moment: The How
The intention isn’t to involve all team-members in every discussion, but rather during moments that require multiple lenses that will inform the product experience.
These collaborative moments are segmented in three levels: Organisational Level, Group Level & Team level. A filtration tunnel that involves all teams to filter the necessary requirements to build the latest product experience.
Let’s have a quick walk through our processes within these levels.
01. Organisation Level
- All hands: Team updates and Aligning expectations
We hold an all hands each week. The whole company comes together, and we are provided with macro information about Tamanna’s weekly progress, short-comings and next-steps from each team lead. We also use this time to celebrate achieving major milestones, individual achievements, birthdays and new team members.
- Centralising Decisions
All decisions, rules and processes are centralised in one location by each team. Thus we have a decision history in one location that is easily accessible for the entire team to view.
- User centric discussions
Sharing user feedbacks generated during the user tests with different teams. Evaluating and prioritising requirements that will define the product strategy based on market data and user experience validation.
- Co-creating sessions
Also known as discovery workshops. Individuals from different teams participate in these workshops. They allow us a map the initial “Happy Path” of our various customer needs.
02. Group level
- Fusing Design-Engineering process
Our objective is to have an integrated process flow giving complete awareness to each team on a given product initiative and its progress. Such micro-involvements have proven to remove bottle-necks and help promote innovation at the start of the product design process. Designers can oversee and test the solution being developed and not compromise the design guidelines and the user experience.
- Open feedback channel
We use cross-collaborative between product managers, designers, and engineers. We introduced a review phase within which enables the team to pin-point red flags or potential pitfalls early in the process, well before before we’ve started development. All feedback is mapped to a Figma file containing the designs and prototypes. This gives transparency to each team member and also makes them accountable and aware of all decisions made before building the final experience.
- Group sync
WFH comes with some drawbacks, constant unstructured discussions in Slack can be disruptive. To tackle this the team dedicates some time once a week to address struggles, improvements or breakthroughs. This close collaboration promotes team bonding and also becomes a great space for impromptu co-creating brainstorm sessions.
- Grooming the design system
Our design system centralises all the UI elements and components. It is an area where both designers and engineers set a standard design language for implementation. Together both teams ideate on a common vocabulary, that aims to simplify our workflow, reduces errors, and improve efficiency.
03. Team level
- Weekly plannings & update
Before digging into the details, the team aligns priorities for the week. It is an opportunity to share and brainstorm on the UX.
- Timely Educational sessions
We use this time to share new learnings, suggest improvements, and promote individual development and professional growth.
As an organisation, enacting such processes establishes a line of communication. Teams become more empathetic towards each other’s internal practices. Everyone can also more realistically manage future expectations, as individual team members become more aware of how each team contributes to fuel the best experience of the product.
Written by Trishala Alva, Product Designer at Tamanna