Achieving High-Performing Product & Engineering Teams

Product and Engineering Team Transformation

Portrait of happy high-performance teams of product and engineering employees posing for a photo at work.

In my extensive work with product and engineering professionals across various industries, I’ve consistently observed common challenges that prevent achieving high-performance teams. These challenges often stem from misalignments in priorities, inefficient processes, and a lack of cohesive collaboration between key departments like sales, product, and engineering. If you find that sales, product, and engineering all have different opinions on what’s important, or that major code initiatives are stuck behind feature flags for months, or if your product is lagging while sales constantly demands new features, then you have a problem. The good news is that in the people-process-technology world, all of these are process issues, and I can help.

Aligning Priorities Across Departments

One of the fundamental issues in many organizations is the misalignment of priorities between sales, product, and engineering teams. Sales teams focus on immediate revenue opportunities, product teams prioritize long-term vision and user experience, while engineering teams aim for technical excellence and stability. These differing priorities can lead to conflicting demands and bottlenecks in the product development cycle.

Solution: Establish a unified roadmap that balances short-term sales goals with long-term product strategy. This can be achieved through regular cross-functional meetings where each team can present their priorities, discuss trade-offs, and agree on a shared vision. Implementing a collaborative planning process ensures that everyone is on the same page and working towards common objectives.

Example: At New Relic, when I arrived after the CEO let go of the previous leader, we hadn’t had much innovation in nearly three years according to our largest customers. Our sales team had no confidence that product and engineering could deliver, and our customers were looking at competitors. To address this, we implemented several key changes:

  1. We appointed a General Manager to align Product and Engineering on business metrics and eliminate finger-pointing.
  2. We set up a quarterly planning session to define our most critical initiatives and allocate a specific target of engineering resources for roadmap, bugs, and new sales items.
  3. We established a cross-company escalation meeting, where any changes impacting the roadmap had to be discussed and agreed upon by the leaders of the company. This eliminated poor business trade-offs under the hood and ensured everyone was aligned if a roadmap item needed to be shifted.

These changes had a significant impact. At the next Customer Advisory Board meeting, the CTO of Disney and SVP of Capital One exclaimed, “You have delivered more of the functionality we wanted in the last six months than in the last three years,” including logging, AI, and many other features. This led to nearly $50 million in new sales within five months.

High-Performance Teams Streamline Processes 

Inefficient processes can cause major code initiatives to be stuck behind feature flags for months, rendering them barely used or obsolete. This not only wastes valuable resources but also hampers innovation and competitive advantage.

Solution: Adopt agile methodologies to enhance flexibility and responsiveness. Break down large initiatives into smaller, manageable tasks that can be delivered incrementally. Utilize feature toggles strategically to allow for gradual rollouts and testing without delaying overall progress. Regular retrospectives and process audits can help identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement, ensuring continuous process optimization.

Example: Stripe, the leading online payment processing platform, was struggling with prolonged feature flag delays. After transitioning to an agile framework and conducting regular process audits, they improved their feature deployment rate by 50% and significantly reduced technical debt. They also implemented a continuous delivery pipeline, enabling them to release new features and fixes to production multiple times a day, increasing their responsiveness to customer needs and market demands.

Bridging the Gap Between Product and Engineering & Sales

A common complaint from sales teams is that the product is falling behind while they constantly ask for new features to meet customer demands. This disconnect can create frustration and hinder the company’s growth potential.

Solution: Implement a feedback loop where sales insights are integrated into the product development process. This involves establishing a clear channel for sales teams to communicate customer needs and feedback to product managers and engineers. Prioritize features based on a combination of customer value, market trends, and technical feasibility. By aligning product development with market demands, you can ensure that the product evolves in a way that supports sales efforts and drives growth.

Example: Epic Systems, a leading healthcare technology company, created a structured feedback loop that allowed their sales team to input customer needs directly into the product backlog. They also established a customer advisory board, consisting of key clients and industry experts, to provide strategic guidance and validate their product roadmap. This alignment led to a 30% increase in customer satisfaction and a 20% boost in sales within nine months.

Enhancing Team Collaboration and Communication

Effective collaboration and communication are essential for high-performing product and engineering teams. Miscommunication or lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings, duplicated efforts, and missed opportunities.

Solution: Foster a culture of open communication and transparency. Utilize collaboration tools like Slack, Jira, or Trello to keep everyone informed and aligned. Regular stand-ups, sprint reviews, and cross-functional workshops can help maintain clarity and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals. Encourage a culture of mutual respect and trust where team members feel valued and heard.

Example: Atlassian, the company behind popular collaboration tools like Jira and Confluence, implemented regular cross-functional workshops and adopted a transparent communication culture. They also invested in team-building activities and off-site retreats to strengthen relationships and facilitate informal knowledge sharing. This resulted in a 25% improvement in project delivery times and enhanced team morale.

Leveraging People, Process, and Technology

To build high-performance product and engineering teams, it’s crucial to leverage the right combination of people, processes, and technology. Each of these elements plays a vital role in achieving excellence and driving innovation.

  • People: Invest in hiring and retaining top talent. Provide opportunities for continuous learning and professional development. Foster a culture of empowerment and accountability where team members are encouraged to take ownership of their work and contribute to the company’s success. Implement a robust onboarding process to help new hires quickly integrate into the team and become productive.

  • Process: Implement agile methodologies and best practices that promote efficiency and adaptability. Regularly review and refine processes to eliminate bottlenecks and ensure continuous improvement. Establish clear roles and responsibilities to minimize confusion and duplication of efforts. Implement a data-driven decision-making process to prioritize initiatives based on impact and feasibility.

  • Technology: Utilize cutting-edge tools and technologies that enhance productivity and collaboration. Ensure that your tech stack is aligned with your business goals and can scale to meet future demands. Invest in automation and DevOps practices to streamline workflows and reduce manual errors. Regularly assess and update your technology infrastructure to stay competitive and meet evolving customer needs.


Building high-performance product and engineering teams requires a holistic approach that addresses the alignment of priorities, streamlining processes, bridging the gap between departments, and enhancing collaboration. By focusing on people, process, and technology, you can overcome common challenges and drive sustainable growth and innovation.

If you recognize these issues within your organization and need expert guidance to navigate these challenges, I can help. With a proven track record in transforming complex operations and catalyzing revenue growth, I offer strategic solutions tailored to your unique needs. Let’s work together to build high-performing teams that drive success and transformation.

About Ken Gavranovic

Ken Gavranovic  is a highly accomplished executive and thought leader known for spearheading successful acquisitions and driving transformative growth in both public and private companies. As the CEO of Actionable, Ken leverages his extensive experience, having overseen 1 IPO, 3 public companies, 35 M&A integrations, and 18 exits.

In his previous roles, Ken was the CEO of, where he led the company through rapid growth phases, a successful IPO, and a significant merger. He also served as Chief Product & Technology Officer at Coursedog, managing a global team and achieving an acquisition valued at over $80 million. As Senior Vice President at Unqork, he drove revenue growth and initiated significant government compliance projects. Additionally, Ken held key roles as Vice President at Cox Automotive and First Data Corporation, significantly enhancing operational efficiencies and leading strategic projects.

With a multifaceted background spanning CEO, CMO, CRO, CPO, and CPTO roles, Ken brings unparalleled insights and expertise to every aspect of leadership and organizational transformation

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