How to collaborate on product requirements as a small team

If you’re part of a small team (or if you’ve binge watched Silicon Valley), you know that building a product as a startup is exhilarating.

But it can also force some uncomfortable tradeoffs. Speed is essential, so it’s faster for one person to make decisions, but the best products get built through collaboration, not commands. It’s just not possible to move quickly while keeping your entire team fully engaged and actively improving your product.

Or is it?

The advent of new issue tracking and product definition tools is changing the way small teams build great products. On the issue tracking side, Linear is an immediate standout, helping engineering teams become more productive. Fable, a collaborative documentation and product definition tool, lets team members work together to create rich, informative product docs. 

And the best part is, Linear and Fable actually work together through seamless integration, making all team members effective collaborators and contributors without shortchanging your speed. To see how the integration works, feel free to read more here

Fable and Linear together make building great products in small teams easier in three ways:

  1. Collaborating on user stories with the entire team
  2. Allowing all team members to keep tabs on the build
  3. Having a source of truth for the product even after deployment

These three effects will not only improve your team’s workflows, but will also result in a better product being shipped at the end of the day. Let’s see how.

Collaborating on user stories

Whether you’re recounting a crazy uncle’s ramblings at Thanksgiving or defining a feature to build for your product, stories are meant to be shared! Having contributions from many team members to user stories is important since it not only makes for better features and products, but also results in greater buy-in and ownership across your team. But before we get into how you can achieve this, let’s talk a bit about what not to do.

One thing we commonly hear about in small teams is creating tickets directly in the issue tracker. While this is definitely fast and gets the ball rolling, you might be rolling in an unintended or even detrimental direction if you don’t have proper input from everyone on the team. If user stories are stuck in the issue tracking tool, only people who regularly use that tool – limited mostly to engineering  –  will see it and can change it. This method also boxes out other perspectives across the organization that can contribute to better product definition and user stories.

Contrast this with a collaborative team effort to define the product and its features: user stories integrate more perspectives and ideas; engineers build things they are invested in rather than items that have been assigned to them, and the final product itself is improved. And how do we get there?

Fable and Linear achieve effective collaboration and efficient deployment together. With the ability to create expressive product docs with teammates in real time, generate issues in Linear directly from Fable docs, and keep track of important decisions, Fable lets your whole team make contributions to product definition and Linear issues without skipping a beat. The two-way sync between Linear and Fable is seamless

Fable provides the collaborative surface through which Linear’s productivity improvements shine.

Allowing teammates to keep tabs on the build

During development, it’s essential to keep everyone updated about how the product is coming along. Keeping track of progress helps your entire team be more agile by detailing core issues engineers are facing, new features PMs want to add or change, aligning marketing and sales with the current product – everyone’s job becomes easier when they know exactly what’s going well and what’s not. By embedding Linear tickets inside Fable, all stakeholders can stay up to date about the product’s current state since they have access to not only product requirements, but also information about its current implementation.

We’re also entering an age of remote work, where calendars are filled to the brim with Zoom calls. An important purpose of these virtual meetings is to disseminate information about the status of the build, tackle issues, and initiate changes. All of these things can be done asynchronously with Fable and Linear. 

If someone in sales wants to know which features are going to be finished soon in order to close a deal with a client, just look to the Fable doc. If an engineer wants to review the latest product requirements, just look to the Linear ticket – it’ll have the latest thinking about the product from Fable. If a PM wants to know how they can help remove obstacles for the dev team, just look to the Fable doc – it’ll similarly have the latest issues from Linear. 

Keeping everyone on the same page helps your team build the best product they can in the most efficient way. Less time spent copy-pasting between specs and project management tools means more time making great products for your users.

Having a source of truth after deployment

So you’ve shipped your product and your users love it. But wait – there’s a bug in the tool that just won’t go away, and it’s affecting your most important customers. You thought you had solved this issue before, but the ticket is buried under a mountain of newer work. Where can you go to see what went wrong and how to fix it?

Once more, enter Fable and Linear. You can just navigate to the product requirements document and the relevant Linear issues will still be embedded in the doc, right there for you to review. You also have the confidence that this doc is the most accurate source of information in your organization – Fable’s two-way integration with Linear, along with a whole host of other tools like Slack, Figma, and Loom ensure that what you’re reading encompasses all the inputs from across your team.

Fable is the single source of truth for your product, from its conception, definition, and design to its development, iteration, and deployment. But it doesn’t just stop there. Fable docs turn into knowledge repositories that act as references for products long after they are shipped. No more searching tirelessly for that one ticket from two years ago to fix a problem now – Fable organizes information from Linear in a way that is intuitive and centered around the products you build.

When creating a product with a small team, the tradeoff between development speed and effective collaboration isn’t a tradeoff at all. With Fable and Linear working in conjunction, your team can be more productive and more agile at the same time. You really can have your cake and eat it too.

Schedule an onboarding call to try out Fable for your team today.