In 2022, no matter what industry you’re in, it’s important that your internal teams and departments are on the same page. You can lose a lot of potential productivity if your teams are disjointed, working in different tools, and not sharing information on projects and customers.
It can lead to a lot of duplicate work, as well as dissatisfied customers who have to stomach delays and inconsistent customer experiences.
In our comprehensive guide, we break down what cross-departmental collaboration is, why it’s crucial to any modern business, and concrete steps you can take to improve it in your company.
To jump to the section which interests you most, click the links below:
- What is Cross-Departmental Collaboration?
- Why is Cross-Departmental Collaboration Important?
- How to Facilitate Cross-Departmental Collaboration in Your Company.
- Example of Cross-Departmental Collaboration
What is Cross-Departmental Collaboration?
Cross-departmental collaboration (or interdepartmental collaboration) is when your employees come together and work toward a shared company goal across team lines.
For example, many sales and marketing teams share information about leads and prospects — a sales rep can help a copywriter write a landing page that appeals to potential customers, and marketing can adjust their campaigns to deliver higher-quality leads to the sales team.
Unfortunately, in most companies, departments tend to be siloed, with little interaction and collaboration between them. So many companies invest in the process of helping different teams and departments work together across team lines.
Why is Cross-Departmental Collaboration Important?
Cross-departmental collaboration is a fundamental part of running a business efficiently. You need to streamline it if you want to deliver a good customer experience, stay innovative, and work efficiently.
Let’s take a look at what the latest data says about interdepartmental collaboration.
Silos Lead to Worse Customer Experiences
41% of experts state that operational silos are a significant barrier to providing a seamless customer experience.
Between copy that misses the mark, non-personalized content, and a disjointed post-purchase experience, a lack of collaboration between teams ruins customer experiences.
For example, a customer could send an inquiry on a social media channel that never reaches the right person. Even if your marketing or support department manages social listening campaigns, they need to collaborate closely with sales so they can actively transfer interested prospects that are asking about your product or service on Twitter or Instagram.
Clear collaboration between departments is crucial if you want to deliver a positive and cohesive experience to all your customers.
Operational Silos Can Cost You Customers and Market Share
Okay, so silos between teams lead to less satisfied customers, but why should you care? In 2021, 92.1% of companies believed that customer experience was at least a partial competitive differentiator.
Bad customer experiences lead to customers turning to competing products and stunted growth rates. If you want a stable of loyal customers, high customer lifetime values, and to meet aggressive growth goals, you need to eliminate silos.
For example, many sales and marketing teams struggle with a lack of collaboration. But well-aligned sales and marketing teams generate on average 208% more revenue from marketing activities.
So if you want to deliver a more personalized purchasing experience for your customers, make sure to improve the collaboration between your sales, marketing, and customer service departments.
Effective Cross-Departmental Collaboration Significantly Boosts Productivity
But it’s not just sales and marketing — poor collaboration can affect the output of your entire organization. A combination of knowledge creation, smooth onboarding, and high levels of cross-departmental collaboration is the calling card for 98.6% of high-performing organizations.
As you can see, the less project teams collaborate, the less effectively a company tends to work. A lot of important projects simply can’t get done without input from multiple teams. For example, if you’re trying to improve the user experience of your app, you need input from customer service, not just your product team.
Documentation and knowledge creation also play a key role since it facilitates seamless collaboration and helps new employees step into roles successfully from day one.
So if you want to work more efficiently as an organization, it’s time to invest in streamlining processes across your teams and departments. Let’s explore exactly how you can do that with smart software — and without million-dollar budgets.
How to Facilitate Cross-Departmental Collaboration in Your Company
Are you ready to take advantage of a more cohesive company that works effectively across departmental lines? In this section, we’ll break down exactly how you can facilitate better interdepartmental collaboration throughout your company.
Map Out Workflows that Require Input From Multiple Teams
Remember how knowledge creation was one of the ingredients of an efficient organization? Ensuring that every team understands how complex tasks work and who’s responsible for what is the first step toward effective collaboration.
The best way to do this is to create a workflow map or process map which outlines every task, decision, decision-maker, and potential bottleneck involved. For example, this is what a process map for a collaborative process between customer support and your product team might look like.
You can also use this for processes that no department inherently owns, like onboarding or post-meeting follow-up.
Communicate and Work in the Same Platforms
The biggest cause of poor collaboration between teams in the digital age is when each department has its own digital ecosystem. If every team works on a different platform, you can’t expect them to collaborate effectively.
For example, instead of using one CRM to manage customer data for leads and another to manage post-sale customer relationships and interactions, having both in the same interface can help account managers understand the health of client relationships and any necessary actions without asking their clients directly.
You should also try to have every team use the same digital workspace tools to streamline communication instead of trying to bridge the gap between Slack and other tools with email.
Use Workflow Automation to Ensure Regular Communication & Input
Remember how you mapped out processes that included multiple departments in the first step? Workflow automation software is the best way to ensure that your different teams consistently follow through with the ideal approach, always including the right person at the right time.
You can set up custom business rules that decide who gets notified when — for example, tagging in the head of finance when sales samples are expected to cost $2,000 or more.
Set and Prioritize Organization-Wide Objectives
For teams to effectively work together, you need to ensure that they’re on the same page. The best way to do this is to set and prioritize specific organization-wide objectives that help departments work together more effectively.
For example, you could make delivering a cohesive customer experience a top priority for 2022, which automatically puts sales, marketing, customer support, and product teams on the same page. When everyone shares a common vision of what matters, it’s a lot easier to work together.
You should also single out a few metrics related to these goals that you can use to measure progress.
Hold Regular Cross-Team Meetings
But even with the same goals and working on the same tools, collaboration won’t exist if the teams aren’t interested in talking to each other. You can’t force effective collaboration between different departments if they feel like strangers.
To help counteract this, you should hold regular cross-functional meetings and include members involved in processes that involve different departments.
For example, you could hold meetings with accounting, sales, and marketing about the accounts receivable and accounts payable processes.
And don’t just include department heads, include “regular employees” from each team too, and assign them different responsibilities in line with your objectives. Starting from the ground up is key to establishing a new collaborative culture in your company.
Examples of Cross-Departmental Collaboration
If you’re not quite sure what cross-departmental collaboration looks like, we’ve singled out eight common business processes that require input from multiple departments below.
Onboarding New Employees
Employee onboarding might seem like it’s just an HR task that the relevant department should handle, but that’s not the case.
To effectively onboard new employees, you need close collaboration between HR and every other department. Your HR staff needs swift feedback on the new hire and also needs the help of senior employees to guide the person and help them learn their role quickly.
In an effective onboarding process, different teams will work with HR to outline key skills, create training materials, and set goals and timelines for new hires to be measured against.
Invoice Approval Process
Whether handling outgoing or incoming invoices, you need to involve the right people in the decision-making process.
Your accounting team won’t be able to justify an expense by looking at the amount alone. Instead, it often makes sense to include various department heads, for example, the VP of marketing, as part of the approval process of marketing expenses.
Accounts payable automation can help you streamline this process, only tagging in executives for invoices that exceed a certain amount. You can even set up automated approval flows for smaller amounts, comparing invoices to purchase orders automatically, paying your suppliers much faster and keeping them happy.
Field Workers Submitting Order Forms
If your company has workers out in the field — like plumbers, technicians, or on-call car mechanics, you need a way to connect them with your accounting and warehouse departments.
The last thing you want is a few hand-scribbled notes representing a proposal or work order from a client.
Instead, you can set up a digital work order process, where field workers use a tablet to submit new work orders, so your warehouse staff can immediately check that you have what's required, and if not, they can put in an order for the necessary materials ASAP.
Purchase Request and Order Process
Internal purchase requests and orders also involve multiple departments. For example, it might be accounting that ultimately signs off on a new purchase, but you need input from your other teams on why it’s necessary.
Employee Performance Tracking
It’s not just onboarding. Pretty much every HR-related process is only efficient if you have collaboration and input from other departments.
With employee performance tracking, you need input from individual managers and department heads, not just for tracking the performance but for setting performance benchmarks and metrics in the first place.
Time Off Requests
Without the right context, an HR manager can’t approve time-off requests. They need input from department heads about upcoming deadlines, important projects or events, and more so they know if it’s appropriate to give an employee a specific week off.
Creating and Sending Custom Samples to Prospects
If you sell custom solutions or products, your sales staff can’t operate in a vacuum. They need to work closely with your manufacturing team and accounting teams to understand what you can offer from a technical standpoint and how much you can afford to spend on each sample.
Boost Your Cross-Departmental Collaboration With Smarter Tools
The key to successful collaboration between departments is to map out processes and use smarter tools to manage the workflow.
If you want a way to get complex multi-department workflows under control, connect with one of our Automation Experts to see how we can help you streamline collaboration between your teams.