5 Benefits to IT Departments from Cross-Functional Collaboration

Cross-functional Collaboration
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One way that businesses have tried to achieve greater intelligence and better outcomes is the creation of silos or centers of excellence, as we’ve moved away from broader, cross-functional collaboration. These silos were meant to allow expertise to flourish, but instead they create walls between departments and have likely artificially stunted growth. In effect, by trying to be knowledgeable, businesses ended up becoming the opposite.

This might have happened within your IT department, with individual teams laser focused on what they need to achieve, but missing the input from other teams that might help to deliver both faster solutions and better business outcomes.

Please keep reading to find out more about the benefits of cross-functional collaboration.

Check out this article from @TOPdesk to better understand the benefits of cross-functional collaboration #ITSM Click To Tweet

The call for cross-functional collaboration

Cross-functional team collaboration is a smart approach. However, this is often not the way businesses are run, because such efforts might be seen as requiring significant effort, commitment, and ongoing support from leadership.

But when there is an investment in improvement, collaboration can maximize what an organization can accomplish. In particular, there are five key benefits from effective cross-functional team collaboration that every business can reap: 

  1. Diverse perspectives spur innovation
  2. Collaboration yields momentum of change
  3. Everyone involved learns more
  4. Old ideas are challenged
  5. The playing field is levelled.

1. Diverse perspectives spur innovation

It’s easy for well-intentioned organizations to fall into groupthink or for the C-suite to put all the power into one person or department. Instead, cross-functional collaboration fuels innovation by merging ideas from a range of people. This helps to achieve a level of creative thinking that typically isn’t possible unless multiple minds, and different mindsets, are involved.

From yielding momentum of change to challenging old ideas, this article by @TOPdesk takes a deep dive into the benefits of cross-functional team collaboration. #ITSM Click To Tweet

2. Collaboration facilitates positive change

The second benefit is that collaboration yields increased momentum by involving multiple perspectives. Look, we all like to think that we’re taking the long view and that we can see both sides of an issue. But when someone sitting across the table brings up a point you haven’t considered or a perspective different from yours, this is when true collaboration begins.

This boosts the level of ownership, empathy, and trust among employees. There are fewer delays in creating change because everybody’s on the same page about what needs to be done. There is no place for competition.

Boosts levels of ownership, empathy, and trust among employees with cross-functional collaboration. Here's how. #ITSM Click To Tweet

3. Learning, ideas, and leveling

The third benefit is that everyone learns more. When people with different areas of expertise collaborate, they educate one another. Combining the unique perspectives of each team member creates better solutions to problems.

4. Challenging the status quo

These unique perspectives also mean that old or outdated ideas are challenged, which is the fourth benefit. Being in a cross-functional team encourages people to think differently, encounter novel ideas, and learn from each other’s experiences.

Being in a cross-functional team encourages people to think differently, encounter novel ideas, and learn from each other’s experiences – @TOPdesk #ITSM Click To Tweet

5. Leveling the playing field

When all the ideas, and credit, are seen as coming from or being taken by upper management, those elsewhere on the org chart can feel stifled. This entrenched process can hinder development and creativity. Cross-functional collaboration can break down these barriers and encourage people to interact beyond the norm. And because individuals at any level can contribute to development and innovation, the likelihood of buy-in and engagement for everyone involved also increases.

The challenges in achieving effective cross-functional collaboration

However, it’s easy to pay lip service to these benefits. C-suite leaders can talk a good game but then quickly revert to the old way of doing things, especially in a challenging quarter. Collaboration can also mean heated communication and the need for everyone to act professionally and to not take things personally, as it’s easy for feelings to get hurt.

Today's challenging business world demands that organizations move beyond traditional silos and toward broader, cross-functional collaboration – @TOPdesk. #ITSM Click To Tweet

Establishing a fully integrated multipurpose team involves more than getting the right people together. You need to assess where your organization stands:

  • To what extent are opportunities for collaboration being harnessed?
  • What might be hampering collaboration?

In a combined effort, team members typically build on other collaborators’ ideas. They integrate and synthesize different facts, ideas, and perspectives to create new possibilities. Clarity on the meaning of ideas happens over time.

Today’s challenging business world demands that organizations move beyond traditional silos and toward broader, cross-functional collaboration. This collaboration will maximize what an organization can accomplish.

Has your organization improved its cross-functional collaboration? If so, what tips would you offer to others? And what potential pitfalls should they avoid?

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Ruben is the president of TOPdesk USA a leading global provider of innovative enterprise service management solutions.

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