No-code Fostering Collaboration in Cross-functional Teams
The stereotypical coder in people’s minds is a modern hermit, someone working in a cubicle in an office building or his family’s garage, having minimal contact with the rest of the human civilization until he is ready to unveil the next big thing. The reality is quite different, though. Coding has always been a social and collaborative process. Nowadays, even more so. According to a survey carried out by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), collaboration-related skills are among the most wanted by employers: 3 of the top 4 and 4 of the top 10 skills involve collaboration in one form or another. The rise of SaaS businesses seems to have further put a premium on collaboration skills.
Different approaches to project management, wildly different results
The SaaS revolution changed the way projects are implemented. The waterfall project management, which previously was quite popular, gave way to Agile in keeping with the spirit of the time. Waterfall was not without its merits: It was designed to meet certain deadlines and watch budget constraints. However, it lacked flexibility and did not take into account the changes the market went through, risking that the demand may not be there when the product is finally ready.
Agile, on the other hand, divides the project into short sprints and continuous iterations, continuously touching base with the market in order to develop a product that will nail the product-market fit. Agile did not start with SaaS companies, but this segment of companies, thanks to their ability to collect and process immense amounts of usage data, lend themselves so well to Agile that they have become almost synonymous with it. Agile can be seen as a modern interpretation of the Japanese management concepts like lean manufacturing and aims to cut waste by running constant tests and basing decisions on validated learning.
Test, measure and learn: Data is the new king
The data-driven approach to decision making in a sense makes employment of cross-functional teams a necessity. The waterfall project management style can tolerate and even trigger siloed organizations; most important decisions are made at the beginning of the project and by decision-makers high up the chain of command. Agile cannot work that way—the need to constantly collect feedback and data, assess them and make course corrections where needed require a cross-functional team to work together with a wholistic view to develop the best product possible. These cross-functional teams should bring together people like UI designers, UX designers, products designers, developers, product managers and marketing people. A product designer decides how the product should feel and work, and provides the design parameters for UI and UX designers. A UX designer prepares use case scenarios, runs A/B tests and lays out a basis for the user interface and product logic. UI designer is the person who executes this product logic through screens and pages. Marketing people arrange focus groups and collect customer feedback to assist the validated learning process. Product manager oversees this whole process, puts design, marketing and engineering people in a position where they can succeed, and aligns internal and external stakeholders behind the same goal.
The idea here is to bring all these people as close to each other as possible and put them in the same room so that they can exchange ideas, which will stop needless investment into things that will eventually be vetoed by colleagues. An environment where people with different functional roles could sit around a table and share their visions for the same product in light of market reports, usage data and changing regulations is what makes Agile so productive. The course corrections and pivots resulting from these discussions ensure that the product will meet the customer requirements when it is finally launched.
Bringing the no-code touch to project management
No-code can be the catalyst in this collaborative process. It can eliminate the silos employees are used to working in and facilitate teamwork instead. In traditional product development, different teams have their specific tools: Prototyping, design, front end and back end development all have their dedicated tools to work with. When all these phases are over, the DevOps people finally show up and tie up the loose ends.
This process involves minimal cooperation. Additionally, different tools used can be a source of waste. No-code replaces much, if not all, of those. Prototyping is the strong suit of no-code platforms—they are tailor-made for testing different ideas and finding out which one deserves to be the basis for the project. These platforms allow product and marketing teams to run tests on their own and validate their hypotheses. Design and front end, too, can be easily taken care of on the platform. Moreover, there are no-code tools like Integromat that can be employed for back end service. This kind of an arrangement removes the need for DevOps altogether. As a result, a single platform can easily bring together all stakeholders working on a project, align them with the previously set goals and facilitate data sharing. No-code technology basically creates a highway on which ideas can move back and forth freely, expediting iterations and reducing time-to-market.
Nothing capitalizes on the social and collaborative nature of software development like no-code platforms can. The sooner business leaders understand this and join the movement, the bigger the benefits that they will reap will be.