How to find a common language with IT specialists without a technical background

There are many specialties in IT that are not related to development and code, but are also important — like product management. Sometimes communication of such specialists with the development team becomes too difficult due to lack of technical knowledge. As a result, the company loses time, money and gets a not very successful product at the end.

How to find a common language with IT specialists within the company

The first step is to admit this to the developers and agree to come to them with technical inquiries, such as about the development of a feature. When I first started in product management, I found myself in this scenario. Setting the proper expectations helped us build the right communication, and helped me acquire the right skills and not go into aspects that I don’t need in my work.

To build communication: it is very important for the developer to understand why we took this or that initiative or feature into work, what impact it will have on users, so that he realizes that he is not just writing another piece of code that will hang on the site until we delete it.

It is very important to show the results of the work: not just “here is your feature in production”, but the results of some kind of A/B testing, an explanation of why this test came in, or why we will remove it from our code. In my experience, this makes a significant contribution to motivation, to the involvement of the team in the process of creating a product for the user.

Involve the team in the development of ideas. It’s not easy as a product manager to come and say, “Here, I’ve written the terms of reference, we’re doing it. That’s it, go ahead, start development.” You need to come to the developers at the stage of ideas with a draft option and ask what they think about it. Often the guys have a good level of expertise in order to explain some corner cases (a problem that occurs when normal parameters are exceeded), which I or the designer could not take into account when working out the features. They most often know how to make the product better, involvement helps us to find a common language with them and save time.

Holding one-to-one (one—on-one meetings) with developers helps me a lot. This is not a classic personal meeting, like a direct team leader or manager. I ask how developers work with me, do they understand where the product is going, I ask the vision of a specialist. Not everyone is ready to give feedback at a retrospective, but you can get it at personal meetings.


What to do if the development team is outsourced

When the development team is not inside the company, but outsourced, it is much more difficult to find a common language. After all, experts know that they will work on the product for 3-4 months, and then they will switch to another project. In order to develop interest in the team and involve it in the development of product, the project manager needs more technical skills, clear prescribing of technical specifications, down to the smallest details.

Therefore, we can conclude that if we do not find a common language with developers, this can then result in unnecessary time and financial costs for the company, as well as affect the quality of the product. If the team is inside the company, then there may also be problems — disagreements, conflicts. This reduces the productivity of work.


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