The best product development experiences I have had have been when the Product, Design and Development work together. One experience that comes to mind, is when the Product Manager, Development Manager and myself were working on a solution for a new market. We visited our main prospect, the largest organization in this market, with a prototype to solicit feedback. It was a great experience because if the customer had business questions, the Product Manager could answer them; if they had technical questions, the Developer could answer it. As the UX leader, I listened, took notes and asked some specific questions around their task goals.
Experience Makers like Apple, Amazon and Intuit get the designer involved as early as possible in the project. Great design is measured by how well it meets the business objectives. It is a journey to explore the market problems you are solving. Ensure that everyone has a clear understanding upfront of how the organization is measuring success for the solutions.
Designers and Design Thinking can help you quickly visualize ideas and early concepts with affinity diagrams, mental maps, storyboards, prototypes, etc. And they can help you conduct early research like field studies and contextual inquiry.
Design roles often vary considerably by teams and organizations. These teams need to align as early as possible on the goals, objectives and desired outcomes. Agreeing on a process – Design Thinking, HCD, etc. – is the first step to success. Once you agree on a process discuss what needs to be done for this release and then assign tasks based on expertise.
The key is open, honest communication. There needs to be trust above everything else if you want any project to be successful.