Best Practices for Working Cross-functionally with Product

Best Practices for Working Cross-functionally with Product

This article explores best practices for working cross-functionally with product teams as a partnerships professional.

Partnerships professionals collaborate with nearly every function in the organization. The entire organization works together to enable powerful, successful partnerships from sales to marketing, customer success, and product.

One of the most essential functions to collaborate with is the Product team, which not only supports partners after they’re signed but can also identify new opportunities for partnerships and alliances. This article will dig into best practices for working cross-functionally with product teams as a partnerships professional.

When should the Product Team be brought into a partnership?

It depends on the nature and type of partnership. When you’re talking about tech partnerships, where there’s an integration involved, you should bring in the product team very early on. For example, Crossbeam has a Product Manager who’s on most of the calls with partnerships to help do the discovery and evaluate which product categories to bring into the discussion.

On the flip side, partnerships can originate as a recommendation from the Product team. In scenarios where the Product team is building an incoming integration, then realize it could be a strong partnership.  In those scenarios, the Product team will have a high level of involvement with the partnership and integration efforts, especially if the partner isn’t yet engaged with the partnerships team.

How do you best engage with your Partnerships Team to set cross-department goals?

working with product teams

Company-wide OKRs can be a great way to set cross-department goals across more than just the partnerships and product teams. However, different departments must collaborate very closely on OKRs to ensure there’s not a specific objective or key result on either team that will drive an unintended negative action for the other team’s goals. 

For example, if the partnerships team has a goal of onboarding and launching integrations with ten new tech partners, but the product and engineering teams don’t have any goals related to building integrations, then there will be tension between the teams because work related to integrations to support the partnerships teams will be pulling the product and engineering teams away from working on their goals. In this example, top-level alignment around the number of partnerships/integrations is essential to ensure both teams’ goals support it.

Be very intentional about the language used and what goals are to ensure they’re focused on the outcomes desired. At the highest level, make sure you’re aligned from company-level OKRs, down to department-specific goals. It’s also a good idea to collaborate closely on specific launch metrics. Whether it’s a goal for adoption or otherwise, the Product team will need to be involved so partnerships can track it. 

Insights from Our Community of Experts

In our recent Working Cross-functionally with Product panel, we hosted a handful of partnerships and product experts to discuss their experiences collaborating. Francois Grenier, Head of Partnerships at Sendoso, encouraged everyone to treat integrations as features. He shared that if you’re not, you’re doing them a disservice. 

It’s interesting to consider that many new integrations or product build-outs involve partner teams doing work similar to product work. If you don’t treat these integrations like features, you won’t give them the attention or correct processes they deserve.

Thanks to panelist Lindsey (O’Niell) DeFalco for chatting through her insights and takeaways from the panel. Lindsey is the Director of Product at Crossbeam, where she’s been for the past three years. 

Partnership Leaders regularly hosts expert panels, roundtables, and fireside chats with experts like Lindsey to dig into different elements of partnerships and alliances.

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