Making Cross-Functional Teams a (Functional) Reality
Transparency and big data have beensome of the biggest buzzwords in business over the last few years, and they work together hand in hand. Data provides transparency, and greater transparency and organizational collaboration between departments help companies to leverage that data. Organizations are beginning to understand that as more and more data flows through a company, different departments can’t operate as “silos” of information, working completely independently from one another.
By switching from the traditional hierarchy of each department structured in a pyramid style, with the boss at the top of the chain, to a cross-functional structure with a leader at the center, teams can become more aligned with their common organizational goals. Cross-functional integration can encourage the flow of information and improve both market intelligence and marketing efforts within an organization.
Why Cross-Functional Integration Matters
With around 78% of respondents surveyed indicating that big data will impact their market intelligence data by 2020, it’s important that we understand what each team’s role is in collection and data analysis. Cross-functional integration can help tie data analysis and visualization to common marketing goals and help prepare everyone to jump in and use their unique skillsets to analyze data and pivot or adapt when needed.
Dysfunctional Cross-Functional Teams are the Norm
Although most companies know the value of transparency, many have difficulty implementing cross-functional integration successfully. Some of the research on cross-functional teams has indicated that the vast majority of these teams are not effectively utilizing this structure—around 75%. These teams can have problems sticking to a budget or project schedule, aligning with the project or organizational goals, or fail to meet customer expectations. Knowing that these pitfalls are common can help teams to avoid them.
Benefits of Successful Cross-Functional Integration
Even though many teams have problems implementing cross-functional integration, it’s a worthwhile goal that can be achieved. Teams that want to use the cross-functional structure need to start with clear goals, deadlines, and budgets. Project leadership teams should include high-level representatives from different departments, and there should be alternates responsible for taking over some of the duties like attending meetings when the appointed representatives cannot attend. Every team member needs to have a clear role so that no one assumes that someone else will take up any given responsibility.
As more data flows into organizations, breaking down these silos is important—but it can be challenging. Remembering that all departments in an organization are working toward the same goals is key. Everyone plays a role in the company’s overall success, and it is important to keep everyone informed, motivated, and on the same page.
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