“New year, new you” is a common mantra for those stepping into the new year. But what about “new year, new business?” January 2022 is the opportunity for a fresh start, and at a time when individuals may set personal targets and resolve career goals, it’s important that business leaders also reassess their operations.
Most, if not all, organizations are in some way operationally inefficient. A large part of this, as business leaders will know all too well, comes down to a lack of collaboration between teams. According to research by Queens University, nearly 75% of employees rate collaboration as “very important”, but 39% of surveyed employees say that people in their organization don’t collaborate enough. In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, when a significantly higher proportion of employees work from home, cross-business collaboration is more of a necessity than ever.
What we talk about when we talk about cross-business collaboration
“Cross business collaboration” is one of those terms that’s entered the business-world lexicon with great effect. It’s on the strategic agenda for many global companies, and yet the concept behind it is simple: teamwork. Or rather, inter-teamwork. Essentially, cross-business collaboration refers to the collaboration between different teams (sales, marketing, HR) in an organization.
It seems a basic requirement to meet, but many organizations fail to keep “collaboration” a high enough priority on their agenda. For many business leaders, it remains abstract enough to sideline, compared with more tangible goals that deliver a clear ROI.
Better collaboration leads to higher performance
A study from the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that high-performance organizations were over five times more likely to incentivize team collaboration. Companies that collaborate effectively are also 50% more likely to report lower turnover levels, compared with the industry average.
Cross department collaboration: a casualty of the pandemic
In 2020, with a workforce consigned to work from home, collaboration—in its traditional form—took a hit. Data taken from the video calls, emails, calendars, instant messages, and workweek hours of Microsoft employees show that, in the first six months of 2020, remote work caused collaboration to become more static and siloed. But there are ways to combat these negatives:
Invest in the right tech
Technology is a key player here and, as organizations have shifted to a hybrid-working model, has been considered a worthwhile long-term investment. In 2021, Gartner reported a 44% rise in workers’ use of collaboration tools since 2019. However, the road to successful cross-department collaboration in the wake of the pandemic is long, and organizations cannot rest on their laurels.
Build better processes
Companies must do more than invest in Microsoft Teams or video conference software. Collaboration requiring input across teams is set to fail in a remote setup unless organizations fix the steps that make up the underlying processes.
How can we improve collaboration between departments?
Most organizations will have different teams and departments running in tandem, which they need to connect to be productive. Collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Asana, and Trello have improved cross-department collaboration significantly, ensuring that tasks get done when they need to and that teams can remain communicative.
However, in most organizations there exists a number of processes that do not fall under the general remit of “project management”. These processes—such as employee onboarding or payroll—can be time-consuming, require iteration, and clog up the schedules for those managing them.
Process automation is an effective solution for fast-tracking manual processes, leaving more time for collaboration on other tasks. Process automation, along with tools like process maps, also provide visibility on a process, highlighting bottlenecks when they occur and facilitating better collaboration throughout.
Microsoft: A case study
Automation of processes helps organizations collaborate more effectively. A great number of processes were, pre-pandemic (and still are today) completed manually, using emails, Excel spreadsheets, and even paper trails. A good example is Microsoft’s process for managing content publishing across its store sites and Microsoft.com. The content publication process is complex, involving different siloed teams, and, for years, was managed via Excel spreadsheets. In some cases, there were 200+ spreadsheets used to update a single page on the website.
Microsoft turned to Nintex’s automation software to better track the publishing process. They experienced:
A reduction in delays
Automation delivered transparency across the process, giving accurate statuses and automating the content approvals and signoffs from various departments, which had created delays in publishing timelines previously.
The automated process provided visibility across teams, speeding up the process for each individual, while enabling better and faster collaboration.
Since implementing this collaborative tool, Microsoft has reported a 30% decrease in publication errors and 25% time saved.
Automation for better collaboration
In 2022, organizations need to make cross-department collaboration a priority, with its positive implications for productivity and employee retention. Process automation is one way to improve collaborative processes between teams, with transparency across processes, fast-tracked tasks, and an improvement in the communication between otherwise siloed teams.
For more information about how to improve collaboration between departments, request a free demo today.