Product School

Breaking Down Silos in Product Teams & Organization-Wide

Nathan Thomas

Author: Nathan Thomas

March 2, 2023 - 5 min read

Updated: January 24, 2024 - 5 min read

Breaking down silos is critical for organizations looking to drive efficiency, reduce costs, and achieve growth. When Product and Product-Adjacent teams operate in silos, it can lead to inconsistent processes, miscommunications, and delays. Especially amidst economic uncertainty, organizations cannot afford to be held back by these inefficiencies.

To break down silos and foster alignment, it's essential to establish a floor of Product knowledge and standardize processes between Product and Product-Adjacent roles. By ensuring that everyone is using the same language, processes, and documentation, teams can move forward together in the same direction, achieving alignment and success across their shared work.

Drive Product Team Alignment by Establishing a Floor of Product Knowledge

Card: Breaking Down Silos in Product Teams & Organization-Wide

Setting the floor of Product knowledge is essential to aligning a Product Team and breaking down silos between Product and Product-Adjacent roles such as Product Marketing, engineering, and design. It's the foundation of a shared understanding of the product, which leads to better collaboration, productivity, and overall success.

For example, let's consider a finance company that's launching a new investment product. The Product Manager knows that the Sales team needs to be able to articulate the product's value proposition to potential customers effectively. However, the Sales team has varying levels of knowledge and experience with the product. Without a shared understanding of the product, the Sales team may not communicate its value proposition accurately, leading to lost opportunities.

To overcome this challenge, a Product Manager can establish a floor of Product knowledge that defines the minimum level of knowledge and skills required for all team members. They can then develop training programs to help bridge the knowledge gaps and ensure that everyone is up to speed on the product.

But how can the Product team evangelize this knowledge throughout the organization? One way is to create sales playbooks, release notes, recorded demos, and FAQs that outline the product's features, benefits, and use cases. These materials can serve as a reference for all team members and help them stay consistent on the product's positioning and messaging.

Moreover, the Product team can hold training sessions or cross-functional meetup events (at Product School, we call them ‘Donuts’) to share knowledge and best practices. These sessions can be led by Product experts who can answer questions, provide guidance, and ensure that everyone is on the same page. This approach fosters a culture of learning and collaboration, where team members feel empowered to ask questions, share ideas, and offer feedback.

Once the floor of Product knowledge is established, the team can move forward, building on this foundation of shared understanding. Product Managers can work with cross-functional team members to identify knowledge gaps, and seek out training programs that can help team members learn and develop the required skills. This approach ensures that all team members have a common understanding of the product, its features, and its roadmap.

Driving Standardization Between Product and Product Adjacent Roles

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With the world in which we are doing business changing fast due to technological disruption, digital transformation, and changing market conditions, there’s a good chance your team is structured quite differently than it was last year. Amidst all the uncertainty, there’s a clear need for consistent Product Management processes that can overcome confusion and increase efficiency, driving opportunities for Product-Led Growth and reducing costs. 

In addition to creating a shared floor of Product Knowledge as addressed above, the Product team and Sales team must work together to establish a standardized approach to product launches. This approach should include standardized documentation, as well as a consistent approach to communicating product updates and features. Standardizing processes and language between the teams can help the company overcome inefficiencies caused by disparate methods/processes and ensure everyone is moving in the right direction even amidst different levels of experience and product knowledge. 

A lack of consistency in approaches and practices can create confusion and reduce efficiency, making it crucial to establish clear processes and procedures. For example, let's consider the finance company we met above that is suffering from a lack of alignment between Product and Product-Adjacent teams, such as Sales and Marketing. The Product team is responsible for creating new financial products, but they are not communicating regularly with the Sales team, which is responsible for selling these products. This lack of cohesion results in the Sales team not having a clear understanding of the product features and benefits, which negatively impacts the company's revenue.

Standardization should not stifle creativity or individuality. Instead, it should provide a framework for collaboration and communication that enables team members to work together more efficiently. By establishing a standardized approach, Product and Product-Adjacent roles can better sync their efforts, reduce costs, and drive Product-Led Growth.

Breaking down silos through knowledge and standardization

​​Product teams that can break down silos within an organization and establish alignment are better equipped to tackle the challenges of an uncertain economy and technological disruption. This can be achieved through a combination of evangelizing product knowledge to create a shared floor of understanding, collaborating with Product-Adjacent roles, and standardizing processes across departments. 

The best way to improve organization-wide Product knowledge and drive standardization with an eye on efficiency is through Product Team Training.

Updated: January 24, 2024

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