Bridging the Gap: Building Alignment in Product Development

Bridging the Gap: Building Alignment in Product Development

Successful alignment between engineering and product management is crucial for achieving the desired outcomes. It impacts not only the success of individual projects but also the overall organizational goals. However, communicating a bold decision such as a system refactor can be challenging, especially when faced with potential resistance from stakeholders. In this post, we will explore effective strategies for engineering leads to build alignment with product management and ensure a smooth path forward, using an example of "TravelVoyage" to illustrate these principles.

Example: "TravelVoyage" - Building an Advanced Travel Booking App

Let's consider the case of our development manager, Mark, who is leading a team tasked with creating the next-generation travel booking app, "TravelVoyage." "TravelVoyage" aims to revolutionize the travel industry by offering a seamless and personalized booking experience to travelers worldwide. The team has identified a performance bottleneck in the app's existing booking engine, which needs to be addressed through a refactor. However, the proposed refactor is estimated to take six months, raising concerns and doubts from the product management team led by Emily. 

Despite the ambitious vision for "TravelVoyage," Mark faces the challenge of aligning with the product management team on the necessary refactor before moving forward with the development. In such situations, effective communication and collaboration are vital to build alignment and ensure the project's success. Here are the key strategies Mark employed to bridge the gap between engineering and product management, using the example of "TravelVoyage" to illustrate these principles:

1. Establishing a Foundation of Trust and Collaboration

In response to the initial concerns, Mark takes a proactive approach. They initiate regular meetings with Emily and other key product stakeholders to discuss their vision for "TravelVoyage" and understand their concerns about the refactor. By creating an open and honest environment, Mark lays the groundwork for productive collaboration.

2. Crafting a Compelling Story

During these meetings, Mark shares the development team's journey in creating "TravelVoyage" and the challenges they encountered. They highlight how the current booking engine's limitations impact the user experience and result in missed opportunities for travelers. Mark crafts a compelling narrative, painting a vivid picture of how "TravelVoyage" can transform the way people plan their journeys. By showcasing the app's potential impact on the travel industry, Mark helps Emily and the product management team see the refactor as an essential step towards delivering an exceptional travel booking app.

3. Embracing Curiosity and Openness:

Rather than presenting the refactor as a final decision, Mark approaches the alignment process with genuine curiosity and openness. They invite Emily's input and feedback, showing a willingness to adapt and find solutions together. This approach fosters a sense of shared ownership and encourages a collaborative spirit.

4. Presenting Your Thought Process

To address Emily's concerns about the refactor's timeline, Mark takes the time to explain the technical considerations that led to this decision. They share the guiding principles, assumptions, and long-term vision for "TravelVoyage." Additionally, Mark shares data that reveals the pain points experienced by travellers in the current booking process. By presenting a transparent thought process backed by data, Mark helps Emily understand the rationale behind the refactor.

5. Demonstrating Incremental Progress

Understanding the importance of meeting project deadlines, Mark proposes a phased approach to the refactor. They identify specific components within the booking engine that can be incrementally improved without derailing the overall project timeline. Mark showcases success stories from previous projects where incremental improvements led to significant enhancements in user experience. This approach demonstrates how smaller changes can have a meaningful impact, easing Emily's worries about the refactor's duration.


Through the example of "TravelVoyage," we have seen how communication and collaboration between engineering and product management can lead to successful alignment. By sharing a compelling narrative, embracing curiosity and openness, presenting their thought process transparently with real-world data, and demonstrating incremental progress, Mark builds trust and alignment with Emily and the product management team.

The journey towards building alignment is not always smooth, but with the right strategies and a commitment to working together, engineering leads can overcome challenges and create a stronger product development team. As they apply these principles in their own projects, they will pave the way for more successful outcomes and foster a culture of trust, collaboration, and innovation.

Back to journal

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.