June 9, 2021

5 Tips for How to Increase Team Productivity & Collaboration

Diagrams for Businesses

As managers weigh whether or not to allow teams to work from home part- or full-time, they’re likely also considering how to increase team productivity in each scenario. Regardless of what structure your team organization uses, these tips can help your team pick up the pace and meet their goals.

Read on or jump ahead to the section that interests you most to learn how to increase team productivity:

In many cases, clear communication makes all the difference. Learn how Gliffy can help your organization be more efficient, productive, and collaborative with our enterprise-grade visual collaboration tools >>

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What is Team Productivity?

Team productivity is the high-quality output of your team that creates value for your organization or customers, measured over a specific period of time. It’s important to note that value is not the same as profit. Your customer support organization, for example, creates value by managing your brand perception, which is harder to measure than the number or sales generated by your sales team. 

Having high team productivity is a rewarding experience for both managers and their teams. Employee satisfaction and engagement tends to be higher on productive teams. This is both because productive teams tend to have the resources they need to be successful and because being a member of these teams gives employees a sense of achievement.

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Defining Productivity for Product Teams

Because product teams don’t always have easily measurable key performance indicators like the number of meetings set with potential customers or number of sales associated with their work, quantifying their productivity can be hard. For this reason, product leaders can define productivity in their own way — just be sure to apply this standard consistently to understand how work is being done over time. 

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How to Increase Team Productivity: 5 Tips for Product Managers

So, with the benefits of creating value for your users and building a team of engaged, satisfied employees, what can you do to increase your team’s productivity? 

1. Clearly Define Your Rituals, Team Norms, and Best Practices

One common mistake when forming a team is not discussing and agreeing upon expectations on how the team will collaborate. But, it’s never too late to have these discussions! By setting clear expectations, you can align your team and improve communication. Here are some questions that can help your team prioritize and collaborate better:

  • If your team uses multiple tools or apps to communicate throughout the day, which should be used for more urgent messages? 
  • How should your team let one another know when they’re “clocked in” and “clocked out” each day? 
  • Are there certain tasks that need to be addressed within a certain period of time? What should someone do if they’re not able to complete that task in time?
  • How should someone ask for help if they have too much on their plate or need help prioritizing?
  • If your team uses the Agile framework, which Agile ceremonies will you adopt and how often will you have them? 

Think through the routine and the way your team currently works. By clearly communicating expectations for things like the items above, you can increase efficiency and help your team stay on track.

One way to think through team rituals and norms is by having a brainstorm or workshop-style discussion to ask for feedback and, as a team, decide how you want to work. Using a mind map or concept map can be a good way to capture ideas and input. If your team creates a team charter as an agreement for how you will work together, discussing norms and rituals will be an important part of that exercise.

2. Revisit Processes to Make Sure They Work

In addition to revisiting how your team works, another way to increase productivity is by making sure you’re not running them through inefficient processes. 

One of the best ways to evaluate processes is by visualizing them. By making a flowchart, workflow diagram, or process diagram, you can easily get feedback on what steps are inefficient or unnecessary. Then, you can clearly show the new, improved process with a flowchart, too!

Find what will work best for your team with our blog about common types of flowcharts >>

For three exercises to evaluate and improve your processes, check out our free on-demand webinar, How to Diagram Your Way to Better Work. You’ll learn how to use a visual collaboration tool like Gliffy to get feedback from your team and standardize processes.

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3. Create a Single Source of Truth

Unorganized, redundant, and outdated information can slow any team down and increase dreaded silo mentality — which is like information hoarding within your organization. When one of your engineers or developers has to hunt down a piece of information, that’s time lost from other tasks. Worse, if they reference outdated information, they may need to redo a task altogether.

Using collaborative groupware such as a wiki to clearly document work — and keeping it up to date — is important. Make sure to include lots of links to helpful and relevant content in project templates, Jira tickets, and anywhere else your team discusses work. 

If your team uses Confluence for work like this, Gliffy is a helpful add-on. You can create a diagram and embed it on relevant pages. Those embedded copies always update with the base diagram, so your team will never stumble upon outdated information in your wiki. You can check this feature out in our Atlassian apps.

If your team uses a different tool, Gliffy Online allows you to create and embed always up-to-date diagrams in other common workplace tools like Trello and Slack.

4. Capture Your Team’s Goals at a Glance

Help keep your development team on track by making sure they have access to a high-level product roadmap visualization. By giving your team a clear roadmap, you’re aligning everybody on what projects are most urgent and giving them an idea of where you aim to be in the next quarter or next year.

Your product roadmap can change, your team will likely fall behind on some projects while breezing through others, and you may reference it once a week or only once a month. But what matters is that you’re giving your team a clear look at your vision. With everyone aligned, you’ll get there together.

Learn more about making high level roadmaps for your team in our blog post about Product Roadmapping >> 

5. Visualize Technical Information for Better Cross-Functional Collaboration

By following tips 1 through 4, you can increase your team’s productivity, but your team doesn’t work within a vacuum. Product teams need to collaborate with other business stakeholders like marketing and sales, who will communicate the value of all their work to users and potential customers. Their level of technical knowledge and expertise can vary widely.

To make sure everyone is on the same page, creating software engineering diagrams like architecture diagrams, data flow diagrams, or entity relationship diagrams will help. Our brains can process visual information more quickly and by providing a visual aid to describe what’s happening, it’s easier for people to follow along without getting lost over technical jargon.

Check out these tutorials for how to make technical diagrams that could help with your conversations on cross-functional teams:

By making diagrams for software engineering and IT like these to describe your work, you can improve cross-functional collaboration, more clearly describe the value in what you’ve prioritized, and help business stakeholders understand your projects more quickly.

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Using Visual Collaboration Tools to Improve Productivity

All the above tips rely on clearer communication — notice that trend? Working as a team and improving your team’s output is all about leaning on one another to get from point A to point B together.

At Gliffy, we believe that visuals are one of the most powerful ways to communicate, especially when it comes to abstract ideas or technical information. Because the brain can process visuals more quickly than text, they’re also one of the most efficient ways to communicate. For that reason, visual collaboration tools like Gliffy can help your team meet its goals. 

Check out our apps for Confluence and Jira or our standalone online diagramming software to learn more about how teams use Gliffy to collaborate.

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Looking for specific exercises to help your team establish good collaboration habits? Atlassian's Team Playbook is a great place to start. Here are a few of our favorite team plays >>

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