Effective collaboration between departments is vital for the success of any organization. When teams work together seamlessly, the result is more productivity and innovation.
But to achieve the dream of true cross-departmental collaboration, you’ll need to keep several best practices in your back pocket. To help, we’ve pulled together six of the most effective team collaboration tips.
What is cross-departmental collaboration?
Cross-departmental collaboration is when different teams work together to pursue common goals. They openly share data, exchange ideas and problem solve on a regular basis. It’s the opposite of working in silos — rather than insulation and secrecy, cross-team collaboration is defined by open communication and information sharing.
Why is cross-departmental collaboration important?
How well different departments work together directly impacts the success of your organization and plays a pivotal role in achieving goals.
For example, consider the ideal contact center scenario. In a picture-perfect world, your customer is instantly connected to the right agent. They get the answer they need within minutes, decide to upgrade their service and walk away from the interaction a loyal advocate for your brand.
Without cross-departmental collaboration, this ideal scenario is more of a pipedream. Your tech team won’t have the right tools in place, your agent won’t have access to the right data and your customer will be kept in limbo. It’s why more than 20% of customers say they'd rather shave their heads or do taxes than contact customer service.
But unify team members around a common goal, and performance will skyrocket. Research shows companies with strong cross-functional teams in place are twice as likely to be profitable and outperform their peers.
Fostering cross-departmental collaboration is especially important in the era of hybrid and flexible work, since conversations that once happened organically in the office now require intentional planning and execution.
Benefits of cross-departmental collaboration
When teams collaborate, the resulting workplace harmony leads to:
- Higher employee engagement: Working closely with other teams helps employees feel more invested in your overall company mission.
- A more collaborative culture: Building trust among teams leads to lasting camaraderie across departments.
- Increased revenue: Collaborative departments generate more revenue than siloed teams.
- Lower expenses: When teams openly share data, ideas, tools and technology, it’s easy to identify and eliminate redundancies.
- A better customer experience: Effective cross-departmental collaboration leads to a seamless customer experience, which in turn leads to more referrals and repeat business.
Example of cross-departmental collaboration
One of the most common examples of cross-departmental collaboration is when multiple teams rally around a new product or service. The marketing department creates campaigns to drive awareness, while the sales team leverages interest generated by those campaigns to close deals. Meanwhile, as your call center agents work to ensure customers have a positive experience with the new product, they alert your design and development team to any bugs or problems that need to be fixed.
Throughout this process, lines of communication stay open for people to share valuable insights and lend expertise to one another.
The crazy thing is, it works. Research shows alignment between sales and marketing alone can boost revenue by 208% and increase customer retention by 36%. With all teams collaborating, those numbers are bound to go even higher.
6 tips to improve cross-departmental collaboration
So, how will you encourage cross-departmental collaboration in your organization? Use these proven tips to help people work better together for higher productivity and performance.
1. Admit when silos exist
First, recognize when you have a misalignment problem. You may think your teams are collaborating — many business leaders do. But most organizations still have work to do in this area. Whether it’s data silos from redundant technology or untapped skills due to improper role alignment, most organizations are overdue to address at least two or three team alignment issues.
2. Identify interdependencies
Does your product engineering team factor in IT help desk tickets when prioritizing updates? If not, they should. Do your marketers and sales reps chat weekly to understand what prospects are looking for? Now’s the time to set a schedule of cross-team meetings. Your business has dozens of interdependencies like these across the organization. But until you identify them, you can’t support them.
3. Rally around shared goals
Once you understand how and when different teams depend on each other, you’ll be ready to pursue bigger goals. Start by replacing separate metrics with shared objectives and KPIs. For example, instead of simply measuring resolution rates, your IT team should share help desk ticket information with engineering to make an even better product. This helps teams rally around collective wins everyone can celebrate together.
4. Share insights
Sales teams know what kind of information your prospects are looking for. Marketing has data to reveal how they go about finding it. Individually, these insights make for strong departmental campaigns. Together, they add up to helpful experiences for your customers — and more sales and loyalty for your company. This is just one example among dozens of opportunities for cross-departmental collaboration. The sooner you build systems for sharing insights across teams, the better positioned you’ll be to outperform competitors.
5. Communicate regularly
Constant communication between teams is the key to unlocking true collaboration. This is especially important for previously siloed teams as they learn how to unite around shared goals. Even something as simple as weekly updates may be all you need to see big improvements. Just make sure you aren’t scheduling unnecessary meetings, plan an agenda before gathering and cancel the meeting if there aren’t enough updates to warrant a discussion.
6. Use technology — but don’t abuse it
Yes, real-time collaborative tools are important — especially if you support remote or hybrid teams. But more isn’t better. Most organizations already have dozens of software applications they never use, which means you need to focus on choosing the right tools. Project management software and workforce intelligence insights may be all you need to keep communication flowing.
Improve cross-departmental collaboration with ActivTrak
Ready to implement these best practices at your organization? ActivTrak’s workforce analytics software makes it easy to identify the best next steps for each team. We’ll show you how different departments are currently collaborating and uncover areas for improvement. Schedule a demo to learn the simplest, most reliable way to make more effective cross-departmental decisions.