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Over the course of the years, businesses have been trying diverse ways of achieving good results in order to stay competitive in their fields of expertise. One approach commonly used by organizations in order to achieve this goal is to foster cross-departmental collaboration.

In this article, we take a look at what cross-departmental collaboration is as well as some important tips to foster cross-departmental collaboration and how the Kanban method can be used to support cross-departmental collaboration in the context of businesses.

What is Cross-Departmental Collaboration?

Cross-departmental collaboration is a type of teamwork in which different departments of an organization joint efforts to accomplish a project or a common goal. In other words, as its own name suggests, cross-departmental collaboration is based on a mutual cooperation of teams by making use of skills and competencies from their team members that complement each other in order to achieve a collective outcome.

This kind of team collaboration can be a good alternative to solve complex problems by bringing together diverse perspectives and skill sets from different team members.

To illustrate this concept, let’s assume that a manufacturing company is planning to launch a new feature in a certain product that the company produces. This challenge will be faced in the form of a project with a specific budget, time schedule and desired quality based on customer specifications.

5 Tips to Foster Cross-Departmental Collaboration

In order to accomplish successful collaborations, the company needs to initiate collaborative efforts from many stakeholders working in different departments, for example, engineering, design, raw material suppliers, marketing and sales in order to successfully deliver the new feature to market. Cross-departmental collaboration in this case is not only desired, but also crucial to achieve the business’ goal. Here are 5 tips to help you foster successful collaborations across multiple departments.

1. Establish common goals

In order to ensure that collaborative efforts can be truly achieved in a business, it is important to establish common goals among all departments as well as a mutual vision of what the business will become by implementing those efforts. By working in view of the same common goals and vision, it is easier to get team members aligned when collaborating together. This increases cross-teams collaboration as it originates a mutual sense of confidence throughout the organization.

2. Create a plan

Creating a plan is vital to implement any strategy in any business, as this allows to act organized and rationalized towards supporting cross-departmental collaboration. The plan should consider the main goals and vision of the business that have been established earlier, as well as potential problems in the future, and the strengths and weaknesses of team members.

An appropriate and clear plan can help not only to achieve the required collaboration between departments, but also be used as a reference tool assessed throughout the collaboration activities, especially when unplanned barriers and disputes during execution arise.

3. Develop leadership

Strong leadership is needed to move the plan created previously and also to guide the actions of team members so that cross-departmental collaboration can run smoothly and in a correct way. If competent leadership is lacking, teams will probably get confused and lost along the collaboration process.

Therefore, it is highly recommended that both time and energy are invested in specific training aiming at qualifying leaders to daily challenges, including incentives to leadership attitudes in all levels and teams across departments.

Competent leadership is an important factor in order to correctly start cross-departmental collaboration efforts and to maintain the gains resulting from those efforts over time.

4. Embrace feedback and achievement recognition

Knowing how to give constructive feedback is critical in order to grow and improve teams’ performance during cross-departmental collaboration efforts. This helps to assess which aspects of the teamwork should be improved and what is running according to the plan. In addition, recognizing and celebrating good achievements throughout collaboration activities also improves teamwork across departments, as it keeps all the teams engaged and increases the overall motivation to accomplish new tasks.

5. Employ appropriate technology

Nowadays several technological tools are available which can be employed to facilitate cross-departmental collaboration within an organization. For example, video conferencing platforms, programs of diverse types along with collaboration platforms can help to organize projects and ideas in one convenient location, thus bringing teams together in a shared digital space. Additionally, using RegFox’s event registration software can streamline the process of organizing internal events and meetings, further enhancing cross-departmental collaboration. This supports the broad participation of teams and more engagement during efforts to implement cross-departmental collaboration.

In order to improve cross-departmental collaboration it is worth investing in meetings and training events that enable the use and understanding of such technological tools. And sure, while the initial expenditure on such technology might sting in the short term, try to see the bigger picture. Besides the obvious cross-departmental benefits, you’re effectively future-proofing your business, opening up the option to recruit remotely and even hire global employees, sourcing the best talent on the planet.

Cross-Departmental Collaboration with Kanban

The Kanban method can help to advance cross-departmental collaboration. Below we show you some ways supported by the Kanban method in order to accomplish this goal.

Workflow visualization is one of the pillars of the Kanban method as it shows the real picture of what is really going on within the teams of an organization in terms of how work is carried out during daily activities. This can be achieved by creating and using digital Kanban boards which are divided into specific columns designating the workflow stages of a particular process. Each task that your departmental teams are implementing is added to a column and moved along the board as it gets completed.

Digital Kanban boards are powerful tools and allow all team members from different departments to see the current status of tasks under each stage of collaborative projects and track the progress of tasks in real time.

Enhance Communication and Collaboration with Kanban

By using designed digital Kanban boards as proposed in the Kanban method, it is also possible to improve communication between teams by including feedback and discussion features on each task represented in a particular Kanban board. This allows team members to suggest improvements, discuss new ideas and share information, thus avoiding misunderstandings and supporting cross-departmental collaboration efforts.

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About the Author: Adriano Boaron

Adriano Boaron, Author at Kanban Zone
Adriano Boaron is a research and development (R&D) scientific engineer with focus on manufacturing processes and a passion for research and content writing in this field. Over the last 12 years, he has planned, developed and coordinated applied scientific R&D projects both in industry and at research institutes in the field of machining processes, namely, in the grinding process and process monitoring. During this period, he had the opportunity to get hands-on experience with Project Management and Agile tools like Kanban method which he uses often in his professional projects and writes content as freelance professional. In his free time, he enjoys birdwatching and loves playing drums.

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