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What is Cross-Functional Collaboration? - Benefits, Tips and Examples

Max Gayler
October 11, 2023
Remote Works

What is Cross-Functional Collaboration?

At its core, cross-functional collaboration is akin to a musical ensemble where each member plays a distinct instrument. Translate that to the business world, and it means departments across the spectrum working in unison towards shared objectives. Now, the beauty of this is how it enables a company to leverage collective strengths and expertise.

Rather than all your marketing people, product people, tech team, etc, all being separate, you break your teams down by project instead. Each project then contains a small number of people from each team.

Think of the marketing team collaborating with R&D for product launches. Instead of marketing just receiving a finished product, imagine the insights they can share from customer feedback, thus aiding R&D in tweaks and iterations. This synergy doesn't just happen. It’s the result of planned strategies, mutual respect, and leveraging the right tools and methodologies.

Benefits of Cross-Functional Collaboration

To some teams, this may sound like a crazy approach. So before you click to a different tab, check out all the benefits of cross-functional collaboration below and see how it can transform the way your team gets work done.

More engaged team members

Teams that collaborate effectively exhibit deeper engagement. A Gallup study proved engaged teams bring a whopping 21% increase in profitability. When team members from different backgrounds unite, creativity flourishes, driving passion and commitment.

When multiple team members are put in new environments it promotes more creative discussions and results in a much more focused conversation.

Efficient workflows

Integrating varied talents means a reservoir of solutions. No more duplicated tasks or unnecessary detours. Instead, you experience a streamlined workflow, optimizing resources and time.

Say goodbye to “waiting on developers” or rushed marketing. With cross-functional collaboration, everyone has a full understanding of each campaign from ideation to iteration to production to publication.

Totally transparent alignment

Miscommunications are the icebergs to your corporate Titanic. Cross-functional collaboration acts as your radar, navigating around potential confusions and ensuring alignment in remote or on-site environments.

Shared task boards and daily huddle meetings mean you’re constantly aligned and have the accessibility to ask questions and dig for more information. It’s faster than asking middle managers for updates and helps build trust amongst your team.

Clear cut goals and objectives

With a multitude of inputs, goals are refined and comprehensive. Collaborative goal-setting, as per Harvard Business Review, frequently results in surpassing business targets.

Rather than focusing on input, or output, you can actually define your campaigns by results, see where problems lie, and build a more ironclad workflow that brings everyone's strengths to the table.

Kill your silos

In the modern era, silos suffocate innovation. Inter-departmental collaboration breaks these barriers, ensuring ideas flow seamlessly, fostering innovation.

Information gets trapped behind invisible barriers and silences anyone’s ability to dig deep for information. With cross-functional collaboration, your team works around reliable, trackable databases that keep everyone aligned. 

Using tools like Claap, your team can record every meeting, send quick video updates to each other, and build a wiki fueled by video content that is transformed into data using AI.

Frequent Challenges of Cross-Functional Collaboration

Adjusting to new working styles

Imagine a team of classical musicians suddenly having to play jazz. There's an initial discord, but with time, they find rhythm. Integrating different working cultures necessitates patience and understanding.

Suddenly working with people with a different professional background to you creates friction. Not all people look at problem solving the same way and finding a mix of creative, pragmatic, and intuitive solutions takes input from the entire group. There may be resistance at first, but the result means a much more considered product with less room for error.

Establishing new processes

Marrying processes from multiple departments isn't just merging; it's metamorphosis. Kotter's 8-Step Change Model could guide teams during this transformative phase.

Forming a vision, creating urgency, and fostering sustained acceleration are all key parts of the model. It’s all based around setting small, achievable goals that serve as reminders that change can be a good thing. 

Routines are great until they’re not.

Conflicting rituals and schedules

Sales may swear by their Monday kick-offs, while tech swears at them. Synchronizing rituals can be a task, but it's a journey towards mutual respect and optimization.

It may also be a question of finding the right balance between sync and async communication. One idea is to have each person fill out a questionnaire once you establish your cross-functional collaboration teams. 

Everyone can let the team know their preferred method of communication. Luckily, no matter what their preference is, you can manage it using Claap. Record your screen and send quick updates that can be viewed on demand. Or record your meetings and supercharge them with automatic transcripts and AI generated summaries.

Building team culture

Cultivating a unified culture that values individuality yet drives towards a shared objective is paramount. It's like a painting full of colors; each remains distinct but contributes to the masterpiece. 

A whopping 58% of employees have left a job or would consider leaving one if they felt the culture was ruined by negative office politics.

This is starting to sounding like a promotion for synergy and team work circa 1970s New York, but we promise building cross-functional collaboration teams can be an easy way to unite remote and in-office teams.

Guide to Efficient Cross-Functional Collaboration

Embarking on a journey towards efficient cross-functional collaboration requires more than just good intentions and a team spirit. It demands a structured approach, rooted in both methodology and adaptability. Here's an expanded roadmap:

1. Have a collaboration plan:

Every successful mission starts with a plan. Define the objectives and clarify each team member's role. Knowing the 'why', 'how', and 'what' of collaboration is a great way to get started.

McKinsey's report on successful digital transformation highlights that a clear understanding of priorities enhances the rate of success by three times.

2. Embrace frameworks like Agile and Scrum:

Frameworks such as Agile and Scrum have been game-changers in the IT sector, largely because of their emphasis on collaboration. By breaking tasks into smaller, manageable chunks and promoting daily stand-ups, these frameworks ensure all members are aligned and informed.

3. Align everyone with the right tools:

In today's digital age, the right collaboration tools can bridge any gap. Platforms like Miro can be invaluable for brainstorming sessions, providing a virtual canvas for those lightbulb moments.

While tools like Slack aid in instant communication and Trello manages tasks, Claap's intelligent video wiki powers your collaborative ventures to the next level. Create easy to digest screen recordings that can be digested quickly by anyone in your team, or even record the meetings you keep and receive a transcript and AI-generated summaries to keep your team aligned.

Building a source of truth for your team is vital whether you’re remote or in-office. Claap lets you build a HQ for all your video content that can be easily integrated with the tools you use every day like Notion.

4. Train and educate:

It's crucial to understand that collaboration doesn’t always come naturally. Investing in workshops and training sessions that focus on building collaborative skills can set the foundation right.

5. Expect more diverse perspectives:

Diversity is a strength. Different departments mean different perspectives, leading to richer, multi-dimensional solutions. Forbes points out how promoting diverse viewpoints can lead to organizational success—a statement backed up and proven by many of the world’s leading companies.

6. Boost morale with goals you celebrate:

Achievements, both big and small, deserve recognition. According to the Harvard Business Review, employees in high-trust companies report 74% less stress, thereby emphasizing the importance of shared celebrations and trust-building.

Nobody wants to do their job because they’re worried what happens if they don’t. It should be about striving for positive reinforcement and promoting a team that cares about each other’s work.

You could even think about adding some icebreaker games to your meetings to get everyone loosened up and create rituals that get people excited.

7. Prioritize feedback:

The Toyota Production System (TPS) has long been revered for its emphasis on continuous improvement. This methodology encourages regular feedback and iterative improvements. In a cross-functional setup, this could translate to weekly or monthly feedback sessions to refine the collaborative process.

With Claap, all your sync and async communication is designed for collaboration. People can leave comments, annotate the video at any moment, and even create polls or leave video replies to create a totally interactive environment for iteration.

8. Focus on relationship building:

Beyond tasks and objectives, fostering a genuine relationship among team members can enhance collaboration. Gallup's study found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%. Encourage team-building activities, both formal and informal.

9. Establish conflict resolution mechanisms:

Where there's collaboration, conflicts are almost inevitable. Drawing from Thomas-Kilmann's Conflict Mode Instrument, teams can be trained to tackle conflicts in a way that's both constructive and growth-oriented.

10. Regularly review and iterate:

Much like the Six Sigma’s DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology, regular introspection can help in identifying areas of improvement and ensuring that collaboration remains effective and efficient.

With these comprehensive strategies in place, teams are better positioned to make cross-functional collaboration more than just a buzzword, but an actionable, tangible reality. 

Start Cross-Functional Collaboration now with Claap

If you’re eager to kickstart your cross-functional collaboration journey, Claap might just be the nudge you need. It's not just a tool but a revolution in how teams collaborate. With asynchronous videos, detailed transcripts, and AI-driven summaries, it ensures no detail is missed. 

So, if you’re aiming for efficient cross-functional collaboration, make Claap your ally. You can even get started for FREE and see how well it fits into your new cross-functional teams.

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