As a service management consultant, I always ask customers: “How is your IT team working and collaborating with other departments in your company?” Usually, I get one of two responses. The first, a shrug followed by: “I had lunch with some of the finance team yesterday.” The second, a grimace that indicates an “us against them” mentality.
The silo effect
If your team’s universal response is either the “shrug of insignificance” or “us against them,” then the chances are that you’re probably not maximizing your team’s productivity through collaboration. This prevents any interdepartmental synergy, we call it: the silo effect.
As you can imagine, a decrease in productivity and a lack of cohesion between teams is guaranteed to affect your customer’s experience.
What does collaboration look like?
Most IT departments understand the benefits of working collaboratively. However, the idea of ripping up everything they know and considering other departments’ processes is a tough sell. Let’s delve into a situation which might help you contextualize this better.This article shares six techniques you can use to collaborate better with the other departments in your organization. #ITSM Click To Tweet
The IT service desk at a large law firm designs a self-service portal. They plan to roll it out to the entire organization with the aim of better engaging the customer. As they begin the roll-out, it becomes obvious that facilities had not been involved in the project, rendering the portal unusable. Strewn with errors, the project was delayed. As a result, the customer experience was compromised and, after review, the project collapsed due to the unattainable costs, resources, and maintenance of the new portal.
How do we prevent this from happening?
Well, there are six techniques you can use to collaborate better with the other departments in your organization:
Think of a common goal
It’s difficult for the wider organization to feel committed to a project if it’s not clear how they can impact the bigger picture.
So, have a holistic approach to projects. Think not only about how your department will deliver the work, but how others could help.
By establishing a common goal for yourself and your colleagues in different departments, it will encourage the sharing of knowledge and energize others to take initiative.
Promote understanding between teams
Understanding the constraints and challenges that each department faces on a day-to-day basis will encourage a more productive interdepartmental relationship.
An exercise to gain this understanding is: each team considers what they think are the three most challenging aspects of another team’s weekly duties. That team then reveals the three most challenging parts of their job, therefore giving visibility of their responsibilities.You should always take a holistic approach to projects. Think not only about how your department will deliver the work, but how others could help. #ITSM Click To Tweet
Sharing perceptions and truths displays that each team isn’t alone in their difficult tasks and that every department is valuable to the organization as a whole.
Develop a common language to aid collaboration
Sharing processes is an easy way to improve collaboration. However, it’s no use sharing when you’re speaking different languages in terms of naming conventions or terminology.
While everything might make sense to those in IT, it could be a foreign language to your facilities colleagues. Developing a common language might mean making sacrifices but everyone must be on the same page.
Encourage trust and openness
If you look at any industry, from sports teams to the military, two things will shine out above all else and they’re both interlinked.
First, team members must trust each other’s abilities. If you lack trust, then collaboration will never be successful, and silos are an inevitable consequence.
The fallout of a lack of trust is that silos reappear, leading to the second aspect: openness.
Failing to be open about what you’re working toward and your goals will lead to miscommunication. You can’t expect your colleagues’ trust and support when they don’t know your intentions.Failing to be open about what you’re working toward and your goals will lead to miscommunication. You can’t expect your colleagues’ trust and support when they don’t know your intentions. #ITSM Click To Tweet
Celebrate every collaboration win
There’s a misconception that celebrating wins is only for sales. Defining success when it comes to projects and process improvement can be less clear, but you should still recognize achievements.
If you want to continue the ideal of trust, openness, and respect across multiple teams, then make it a habit to celebrate those small wins. It’ll make a huge difference in the long term.
Ensure you have a tool which brings everything together
Investing in an enterprise service management solution will benefit the entire organization and improve collaborative working. Enterprise service management tools bring every service into one place, they harness the most up-to-date data and standardize processes and communications.
This means a more consistent experience for the customer and an opportunity to share resources between departments – another way to work more collaboratively to ensure that the customer is happy.
The question of organizational collaboration always reveals some hard truths. However, when you realize that you all have the same goals when it comes to achieving customer satisfaction, it’ll make it easier to understand and help each other.
Try using the above six techniques for working together to make the customer journey smoother. It’ll make life a lot easier for you, your colleagues, and your customers.
Oliver has worked as a Service Management Consultant for TOPdesk UK for over two years, specialising in service orientation. TOPdesk develops, implements, and supports an enterprise service management solution that helps organisations to efficiently manage the services they provide.
His role includes managing the end-to-end of digital transformation projects across a variety of industry sectors using agile project management methods. Oliver’s passion revolves around placing the customer at the epicentre of service design and delivery to elevate the service management experience of both the user and business.
Oliver’s certifications include ITIL 4 Foundation Level and BCS Foundation Certificate in Agile.