The Impact Communication Makes On Our Product/Technology Team

At USA TODAY NETWORK our team is always working together to identify new trends in technology that we can apply to our products. We strive to connect some of the brightest minds in the product development field so that we can bring our local communities the best and most relevant product updates, reaching more than 100 million Americans total with emerging technologies such as virtual reality. Our product team knows that without clear and consistent communication these innovative developments wouldn’t be possible.Aditya Gore has been with the NETWORK for six years and currently works with his team to create and update applications as the Director, Mobile Development. Through team interaction and collaboration, Aditya and his team stay abreast on market trends and pioneer product advances:

“My main job is to make sure we deliver all of these apps and app updates on a regular basis. I wear a bunch of hats and I interact regularly with product managers, developers, designers and testing people to make sure we are making progress towards sending the updates out on a regular basis.”

To work as efficiently as possible, our product/technology teams push the boundaries of traditional meeting settings. Along with being just one flight of stairs away from the USA TODAY Newsroom, our product team works side by side to get the job done. Aditya explains the important role proximity plays in helping achieve outcomes:

“How effectively you produce and how effectively you do your work is closely tied to how well you communicate with your team. So communication is super important, and most of my developers are in this location and we talk to each other face to face; if not we use video chat.”

The NETWORK goes a step beyond conventional team communication forums to create a better group dynamic that is more conducive to collaborating and working efficiently. Dana Schieffer works with USA TODAY NETWORK as a Senior UX Architect and experiences both formal and informal group collaboration every day:

“I am on the design team, so I am constantly working with and collaborating with other designers.  Each morning we have a quick stand up and everybody on the team goes around and quickly shares what they did yesterday, what they’re doing today and calls out any blockers that might get in the way. These sessions open up lines of communication between everyone on the team in a really effective way.Designing systems and features for our apps and websites means we also need to communicate and collaborate with colleagues on various teams throughout the company. I love that we have such an open and collaborative culture where the designers, developers, and product managers work so closely together. Whether it’s via Slack, email, meetings or a casual desk visit, we are constantly communicating and working together as a team.”

Dana’s team also experiments with different group problem-solving practices to put the strengths of each team member to active use:

“Sometimes we have the whole team do these “design swarms”, where we break off into small teams and spend a day or so focusing on solving a specific design challenge. We also regularly do less formal co-design sessions to quickly collaborate and ideate design solutions in an hour or so. In these sessions we start by defining the problem we aim to solve. We then set a timer and sketch design solutions for a short and limited amount of time. After the timer goes off, we each share our sketches and concepts with the other participants and get constructive feedback from the group. After everyone has presented and gotten feedback, we set the timer again and independently sketch ideas.  This time, we use inspiration and feedback from the other participants to enhance our concepts.  This approach to co-design is really fun and allows everyone to quickly collaborate and generate ideas.”

The NETWORK continues to find and support ways for different team members to connect and find solutions, as Dana explains:

“We’ve been working on a documentation system that helps us think through and check our work, and makes it easier and faster for our developers to build our products.  Oftentimes it’s extremely useful to go and talk with the developers about how they plan to build things. If we understand how it’s going to be implemented, we can document it in a way that accurately captures how it will work and makes the most sense to the people who are using the documentation.  The UX and development teams have been communicating and collaborating more and more over the past few years and it’s been great to help us get things done effectively.”

Aditya sums up the importance of communication on our product development team by explaining:

“My job is such that I have to talk to my team members to solve anything and everything that comes up. If we didn’t talk, things wouldn’t get done and things wouldn’t get sorted out.”

The USA TODAY NETWORK product development team continues to make strides and advances in the field by practicing strong communication tactics. If you are looking to collaborate with the best minds in product development check out our careers page and find a career opportunity that is right for you!

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