Cross-functional collaboration is essential to businesses’ success. However, it can be difficult for high-level executives to drive employees to communicate with departments outside of their own. There are a few steps you can take to improve collaboration between departments.
One powerful way for a company to increase cross-functional collaboration is to implement a company intranet. An intranet is a network which is accessible by an organization’s staff, where they can upload and view documents and information. One can choose to build an intranet on commercial off-the-shelf software, such as Microsoft SharePoint or WordPress, or as a custom application. This decision depends on the level of customization needed, since each situation is different.
Most companies choose to organize intranet pages by department. This allows for users to share and find files within their own department. Even more, users can easily find relevant documents and information pertaining to other departments. Additionally, company intranets usually feature a homepage where fields, such as company news, calendars and announcements live. This ensures all employees are up-to-date on what’s going on throughout the company, not just within their own department.
To learn more, read this case study about a company which implemented an intranet, allowing all departments to communicate in one central location.
Set a Common Goal
We have all heard about the importance of setting a common goal within a company. There is a reason why this is important; it has an enormous impact on employees. Setting a common goal gives employees something concrete to work towards. It helps them to understand the impact they have on the “big picture” in relation to their colleagues. Employees can better understand the value of collaboration when there is an end goal at hand which requires the engagement of all job functions.
Once a goal is reached or a positive outcome is achieved, it is important for companies to encourage celebration. A company should celebrate their accomplishments together, as a team that worked together to reach success. By recognizing and rewarding a desired positive behavior, you are reinforcing that behavior. When employees realize that they have made a positive change together, they will be motivated to continue that success by proceeding to collaborate.
Do you have a specific process in mind in which the collaboration piece is missing? By developing a custom application, you can automate workflows in order to increase efficiencies and improve collaboration. For example, in one part of a custom application, you could choose to require users to fill out important information before moving to the next step in a process. This ensures that the recipient of this information (another employee) gathers all parts needed in order to avoid confusion or miscommunication. Custom software can be used to better organize any number of processes within a company, thus, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. This can help processes flow more smoothly, which allows for seamless communication.
For a real-life example of how automating a business process through custom software improves collaboration and communication, check out this case study about a construction firm which developed a custom scheduling application.
Encouraging innovation and new ideas within a company is a great way to bring employees from different departments together. In fact, innovation, by its very nature, requires different perspectives and viewpoints. In order to promote cross-functional collaboration, it is important to give employees an opportunity to get to know one another. When employees bounce ideas off each other, they are able to learn about one another both personally and professionally. Collaboration between different departments to solve problems, big or small, is guaranteed to positively impact the company.
Collaboration between departments will happen naturally if the right structure is in place. Every organization can benefit from increased cross-functional collaboration.