Developing a successful project required two primary aspects — a great idea and a qualified development team. You should hire professionals that can turn your ideas into reality.
By the question arises — how to choose the right team structure to reach cost and quality balance? One of the most wide-spread solutions is hiring cross-functional teams (CFT).
In this post, you can find all the aspects of cooperation with CFT, including pros and cons. There are also several useful tips on how to manage teams of various specialists.
Let’s start with the basics.
A cross-functional team stands for a group of specialists from various departments working together on a common goal. They collaborate with each other and share expertise to develop a high-quality project in a short time.
We need to compare functional and cross-functional teams to understand the difference better.
For example, you want to make an e-commerce website and need a development team.
Functional team members:
• Front-end developers
• Back-end developers
• DevOps engineers
• Quality Assurance engineers
Cross-functional team members:
• Business analyst
• Project manager
• Quality assurance engineer
• Front-end developers
• Back-end developers
• UI/UX designers
• DevOps engineers
Cooperating with a cross-functional team has a bunch of advantages like more in-depth expertise and better results.
To give you a hint, there are top five reasons to hire a cross-functional team.
The main advantage of a cross-functional team is the speed of work in comparison to siloed departments. Dividing the team into different departments, they can feel a lack of communication. In this case, each department works on a particular task and just hands-off work to the other department. If there are any questions, the team schedules meetings. So, you lose time. Time always means money. As a result, the final development cost can change.
A cross-functional team works differently. They solve all the arising questions as the work proceeds. Such a team usually has daily meetings to set the tasks for today, so every team member has tasks to conquer. The development team discusses all the required issues. As a result, you can reduce expenses on product development.
Let’s face it — developing a website or a mobile app, you need specialists with various knowledge and experience. Developers don’t usually know all the design peculiarities. They can’t test the code in a proper way.
The cross-functional team gathers experts with the required skills and knowledge. Of course, such staff collaboration makes the development process more comfortable. Additionally, team members suggest new ideas on how to improve workflow. The employees share the knowledge and experience of their department with other specialists.
The cross-functional team is a perfect choice for complicated projects. I’ve already mentioned the faster communication between the team members. It tends to be a crucial moment during the development of large projects.
CFT also helps various specialists understand all the project aspects like architecture, design peculiarities, and so on.
The cross-functional team has various team members. There can be a Project manager, UI/UX designer, developers, and more. Each specialist has great expertise and experience in the chosen field. As a result, you can be sure that every project part was done by a professional.
Hiring a cross-functional team, you can interview excellenct specialist and pick the one with the required expertise.
Being always in touch with each other, team members feel more responsible about done tasks. They take care of deadlines since different team members are waiting for their part of the work.
All team member in the meeting makes every critical decision. It allows finding the best solutions for complicated situations.
Of course, the cross-functional team can have several drawbacks like management problems and
You can find them below with suggestions on how to avoid them.
Even if you clearly understand the software development workflow, you should realize the amount of required work to control and manage a cross-functional team. There should be regular online meetings to get feedback from the CFT.
It’s better to hire a professional Project manager to deal with the management tasks. Project management tends to be a time-consuming task since PM organizes the workflow of the team members.
Managing a cross-functional team, a lot of people worry about the language barrier problem. However, it has become a thing of the past since all IT specialists tend to have fluent English.
You can also face other communication-related issues if you’re located in different timezones with your cross-functional team.
Usually, you can set a comfortable schedule with the Project manager to avoid such issues. There can be daily or weekly meetings with a team or constant emails and messages.
The question arises — how to manage a cross-functional team successfully? You can find several tips and tricks below.
• Organize team-buildings to let team members communicate out of office.
• Reward employees for team-oriented thinking.
• Allows the team to share their opinions and ideas on how to improve the development process.
• Pay attention to each employee. It’s better to know each team member’s motivation, weaknesses, and strengths.
• Set reasonable deadlines for the project development.
• Don’t schedule many meetings since they disturb the cross-functional team from their tasks. It’s better to have one morning meeting.
• Use management tools to organize the workflow. It allows tracking the development progress and managing the team members more effectively.
There are a bunch of cool tools that help you cooperate with cross-functional teams. You can use task managers like Jira and Trello or communication tools like Slack.
To give you a hint, I’ve listed the most popular tools and technologies for you to use.
To follow the development process and be up-to-date, it’s better to use project management tools. Using such software, you can see how the cross-functional team works and how much time they spend.
As a result, you are completely involved in the project development that is transparent.
The most popular tool for project management are:
• Jira. Jira is a popular software solution among cross-functional development teams. There are a bunch of cool features like the ability to integrate Jira with the tools you already use. Since every team has a unique process for shipping software, there are possibilities to use an out-of-the-box workflow or create one to match the way your team works.
• Trello. Trello visualizes project tasks on a task board. Team members can split the project into small tasks, like small cards, group them, add files or images, and comment on each other's jobs.
• Kantree. Kantree is an all-in-one toolkit to organize, plan and manage work across your cross-functional team. There are solutions for teams (Human Resources, Marketing, Product development, and more) and by workflow (Digital transformation, kanban, Project Managament, ect.)
• Basecamp. Though Basecamp has only essential features needed for management, it is well-known among teams all over the world. It's a good solution for any cross-functional project. It is easy to set up and use. It provides commenting and messaging. Basecamp costs $29/month no matter how many people use it.
• Scoro. Scoro has a large number of features: to-do lists, reminders, time tracking, etc. With the help of this app, team members can report on work progress, budgets, and sales performance. This software will cost $22/month for one user.
Of course, to manage the team effectively, you need to be in touch with every team member. A bunch of useful tools can help you.
• Slack. Slack is an excellent solution for those who need to constantly be in touch. By creating Slack channels, you can be sure that your employees know the project's latest information. Employees can talk both in private and public chats, set up reminders, and highlight important messages. This app is integrated into Dropbox and Google Drive, so it's easy to share files with everyone. Slack has Free and Paid plans. Pricing starts from $8/month.
• Fleep. Fleep is a similar messenger which improves cross-functional team communication. It provides the function of scheduling tasks. It integrates with Google Hangouts and allows pinning important messages. It has a free plan, paid one costs 1/month for one user.
• Troop Messenger. One more team chat application keeps both the communication and collaboration within the cross-functional teams at the same pace. Productivity is no more an issue in the case of this office chat application that offers exceptional features for remote team collaboration. Using Troop Messenger, you can send or receive text, files, images, media, and other necessary data seamlessly.
To sum up, cross-functional development teams become more wide-spread since they offer the higher quality of the final product. Such a team shares tasks to reach better and faster results.
Vitaly Kuprenko is a writer for Cleveroad. It’s a web and mobile app development company with headquarters in Ukraine. He enjoys writing about technology and digital marketing.
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