Flite recently restructured our entire company into cross-functional teams and it’s working great for us. We tested this concept early in the year by forming a few small teams. By combining sales people with developers and account managers with marketers into teams, they are able to work with common priorities and shared goals. A few months ago we pushed this further and reorganized our whole company into multiple cross-functional teams designed out of what we found worked in our smaller tests.
Some of the benefits we’re seeing:
- Better communication between team members
- More empowerment throughout our organization
- Higher quality product releases
- Happier people
Those are the top pluses, and add up to more than enough reason to be excited about it.
So how does it work? I’ll discuss some of the characteristics we're following:
We follow scrum at Flite. Each team makes use of scrum and a scrum task board (we use Trello for this) to track what everyone is working on. This allows them to communicate with one another in their daily standup meetings. Scrum works well but Kanban or any good ad hoc process can work just as well. The important point is that teams have a streamlined process to communicate, track progress, prioritize, and have retrospectives that promote learning rather than repeating things that don’t work or cause harm.
Our teams are truly cross-functional. We structure them like mini-business units. That said, we’re not being overly strict and as a small company we certainly don’t want to add overhead to things like accounting for time borrowed between teams or ensuring each group is always profitable. The key, of course, is having people with diverse skillsets and backgrounds working together. This produces better decision making and ability to deliver on strategic goals while handling the bumps encountered along the way.
Top priorities are clearly identified and everyone on the team understands these priorities and the reasons behind them. This takes debate, communication, and being strict on what can and can’t actually be accomplished. That’s tough to do but worth it. A well-formed, cross-functional team can accomplish a great deal when they’re focused—gaining that focus takes strict prioritization. Good prioritization becomes possible when team members from all of the crucial business functions meet together and work to deliver value to their end customer.
Customer focus is key for our teams. At Flite, we keep the values empower, delight, and deliver. We use those values to guide how we serve our customers and our employees alike. Well-defined values are a great asset for keeping our teams focused on our customer’s needs since they form scaffolding for discussion and debate as they work through the issues that arise while building products and solutions for our customers.
We’re forging ahead with our new team structure and are excited to see what we achieve with it.