RemoteWorks

Staying in touch: How product and dev teams nail it remotely

How does async communication let tech teams prioritize, take action, and deliver when it comes to fast-moving products?

Max Gayler

Behind every determined company there’s a talented team of product owners, project managers, front-end devs, back-end devs, and full stack devs spinning threads of an idea into hard-hitting gold.

The bond between dev and product teams is the foundation of a successful business and in the world of distributed work they’ve had to adjust to the shift when it comes to transparent and efficient communication.

A quick powwow in the office to kill any bugs in your product can quickly turn into a string of tickets across various softwares you’re still learning how to use when you’re working remotely. That means more frustration for product and dev teams as they lose time, disturb their flow, and slow the product down. Developers and product people rely on precise details and specific instructions and a lot of this information gets lost in meetings and the subsequent recordings gathering dust in your inbox.

The key to a product that keeps on growing is as much about keeping teams focused, as it is about addressing real-time issues and long-term roadmaps. That’s why we’ve gathered our own product and developer teams with years of remote experience to talk about how they stay away from back-to-back meetings and stick with asynchronous video collaboration to keep the product moving.

Align on your roadmap

If a software company is growing at a rate of 20% or less, there’s a 92% chance they’ll be gone in a few years. Growing fast is what keeps any business afloat no matter what the size. Dev and product teams add new features, fix bugs, and most importantly, listen to what customers want to know how to build a roadmap. That roadmap forms a product that makes customers happy, increases retention/acquisition, and boosts revenue. With something as business critical as a roadmap, how do you guarantee your remote product and dev teams are completely aligned?

Try presenting your roadmap with video

Flow charts, tables, and calendar checklists make sure you’re on track, but most product teams have to check in over and over again to fully understand what needs completing when. Keep all your stakeholders aligned form the start by recording your roadmap presentation. Your team can immediately comment, collaborate, and complete tasks so your team can hit quarterly and yearly goals easier.

Our Co-Founder & CEO Robin Bonduelle has worked in the world of Product for more than 10 years both in-office and remote. For him, giving people the space to work in their own time makes all the difference:

“Having a quick video presentation of the written specs is a very good way to ensure everyone can have a clear understanding of the feature to be developed async. If needed, you can still have a Q&A session to sync up afterwards.” - Robin Bonduelle, Co-Founder & CEO

Aligning means realigning. And realigning. And realigning again. A 5 minute daily or weekly check-in with your team becomes another looming colored block in your calendar when your teams working remotely. Developers work best when they’re able to focus for an extended period of time without worrying about meetings. By working async and moving your meeting agenda to tools like Slack, Linear, or Claap, you can still get all the interactivity and transparency of a video meeting with the same flexibility that lets your team respond properly when they’re ready to focus.

Fix bugs

88% of Americans avoid brands that have a poor performing app. Dev and product teams know that bugs need to be dealt with. But no amount of QA can stop bugs from slipping through the cracks. The mark of a high-performance team is how fast and effectively they deal with them. When your team is in the same office, the situation normally goes like this:

  1. A customer encounters a bug while using the product.
  2. That same customer files a report or informs your customer service team exactly what’s wrong.
  3. Your tech team tests the bug, checks screenshots, reads customer reports, and starts tapping the shoulders of product teams to solve the problem.

While this process works, it lacks the immediacy of effective collaboration of asynchronous tools. In this situation, distributed work innovations allow product and dev teams to solve problems even faster.

One of our software developers, Paul Leseute, explains how he using async tools like Claap:

“Bug fix demos made by a dev through a claap allows us to communicate properly when report specs are not complete, so it’s up to the dev to fill in the gaps.” - Paul Leseute, Software Engineer

By using a video collaboration tool, dev teams record quick videos summarizing bugs, giving full context to product teams, focusing on solutions, and speeding up the process of solving bugs.

Here’s how it works at Claap:

  1. Bug is reported: 80% of the time a bug is visual. Once a dev has taken a look, they record a quick claap and it’s automatically pushed to Slack. If it isn’t visual it’s either directly reported in Slack or a ticket is created in Linear.
  2. Triage process: In-context reactions help identify the bug and understand prioritization based on severity, frequency, and fixability. All this is carried out in Linear where easy labelling lets the entire team know what stage each bug is at.
  3. Bug fixed: Once the bug is fixed, tickets are closed, claaps are tagged, and the tech team moves onto the next problem.

Interrupting the intense work of the dev team to show them the problem can be a nightmare for product teams too. Claap preserves this deep focus by letting PMs give a clear walkthrough of the problem. Then devs can use in-context feedback to elaborate.

Work with animations and videos

Testing animations and videos requires a lot more QA than any static objects or text. They come from larger files and can easily make pages start misbehaving when done wrong. Verifying that the page you’re working on still works with the animation is a team effort. But when you’re a remote team, you can’t go over to someone’s desk or book a meeting room to give the okay, but you still need a way to show your screen.

Async video collaboration lets you do exactly this even when you’re thousands of miles from each other. Record your screen showing how the page behaves, give your team context by talking into the microphone, and easily take care of business without having to perfectly narrate what’s happening on your screen.

“The ability to record, validate, and then push it is a life saver to save time.” - Robin Bonduelle, Co-Founder & CEO

Solve new problems fast

Whenever a dev works on a feature, they will always have questions that the PM didn’t mention in the specs. Maybe something happens when they hover over a button or everything changes shape when a pop-up appears. It means that all day long there are a number of quick questions from the devs to the PM to refine the specs on the fly.

Similarly to how remote devs fix bugs, communication between these two teams needs to be quick, fast, and most importantly clear. So much context and clarity can be lost when we explain our problems. Showing them is a great way to not interrupt and keep your calendar clear of meetings so you know exactly how to focus as a remote team and achieve goals asynchronously. Using an async video collaboration tool means you get to communicate between dev and product teams quickly, show your work, and minimize room for error.

At the end of the day, developers want to be guided by PMs who lead the backlog, but most importantly they don’t want to be patronized. PMs want to understand and be considerate of the constraints of the diverse workload of an engineer. A clean workflow built on async communication allows information to flow faster which leads to faster problem solving most importantly, a product that keeps on getting better.