It’s no secret that working together on software projects is not always an easy ride. Everyone in our industry has a story or two to tell about dysfunctional ways of working that led to delayed delivery or frayed nerves. But it doesn’t need to be so fraught! 

There are a number of ways we at ClearPoint approach this to ensure that we get each team on the same page, to ensure a fully collaborative environment that delivers high value products and that feels great to work in. 

What does a functional team for design and engineering together look like?

Establishing a single team that is both designing and engineering on the same project, fully functioning and collaborating together, sounds easier than it is. For this to work, the team really needs to be ‘re-forged’ in a new way of working. We ensure our approach allows us to identify as one team working on solving the same problem together. 

This change should be led from the top – Leadership needs to endorse, adopt and model this new way of working. We deeply believe in this as the future for both design and engineering.

Following this is establishing the culture of the team. Based on the “forming, storming, norming, and performing” model, we build a sense of unity that everyone is working together, as opposed to separate factions. 

In establishing a new way of working, everyone agrees to put aside their “defaults” and decide how they’re going to collaborate as one team. This is the beginning of ensuring functional collaboration, because you’re putting aside historical conflicts, differing values, and different ways of working and agreeing on a new way forward.

Establishing a collaborative team:

  • Every project is different

As one team with a new way of working, we decide how we are going to solve the specific challenges of the project. Then we decide together on the activities that we believe are necessary for what we need to deliver.

We are granting each other permission to do the work that we think is necessary, sharing ownership, and recognising different skills and capabilities. The act of working out the activities together is part of establishing new norms for collaborating and compromising as a team. That not only solves an operational problem, it contributes to establishing our team culture.

  • A new agile

One of the purposes of ‘agile’ was to remove delays and bureaucracy but over time agile has become innately less agile and it’s inherited many of the things that it was supposed to remove out of the process. 

By building teams with design and engineering working side by side, we create an opportunity to redefine how we work in a more human, agile way together. We go back to the roots of people working together to make a thing and focussing on priorities that  ‘make the boat go faster.’

  • Milestones and cross-over rituals

As one team, it makes sense to participate in each other’s key milestones and rituals. Ensure there is plenty of planned collaboration to provide the opportunity to give and receive feedback early; to ensure a good technology lens on discovery and, likewise, adequate design participation in the refinement sessions as features are being built out. 

This could be turning up to user testing sessions or engineering showcases, which all builds a shared sense of teamwork and support.

Understand what success looks like

The key measure of success we should always have our eye on, is how fast we are learning and how fast we are making. The ultimate goal in any project is that we’re supposed to have made the ‘thing.’ Everything we do should be on that path of learning to make the right ‘thing’.

The goal for both engineering and design is to learn through making. So the key metric is, did we do a ‘thing’ that helped us learn something significant? Was that helping us make new and better ‘things’? Are we making the next ‘thing’ that delivers the best outcome for the business, and that ultimately adds value for the customer?


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Download our ebook where we also explore common pain points for teams and additional methods to establishing a collaborative team. 


The opportunity of working with design and engineering as a collaborative team, is that from the outset you’re designing things with the idea of them being made, quickly, and to solve the right problem. When everyone’s on the same page, the communication and feedback is open, and the resulting delivery is rapid and gives a very real sense of momentum that is crucial to success.

There are a number of ways we at ClearPoint approach this to ensure that we get each team on the same page.

To learn more about building better digital products through closer collaboration between design and engineering, download our free eBook. We delve deeper into how to establish closer collaboration between design and engineering and how this can benefit your organisation. 


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