6 Specific Steps to Break Down Silos at the Enterprise
The key to any project’s successful outcome is collaboration. While it’s important to find the best external partners to meet your needs, you also want to build the right internal team to maximize your success—and the best internal team is often cross-functional. But multiple internal groups working on the same project often have several different goals, which can lead to a lack of transparency and failures in communication.
To create a finished product that meets the broader organizational needs, it’s important to avoid working in silos. Successful teams are able to maximize all the great internal talent, bring people together with different points of view, and be inclusive. This post highlights the ways to break down silos at the enterprise and lead strong, engaged, and committed teams. These steps will help you define a smooth (and painless!) process that is inclusive to your internal business partners and moves the project forward.
Step 1: Define the purpose of your project and determine who needs to assist you in driving to completion and success.
It is vital that you and your team are dedicated to the foundational work, as this helps keep teams energized and enthusiastic while the project is underway. A good starting point is to define the objective to your team and explain its potential value to the organization as a whole. It’s also a good idea to call out benefits to specific teams, for this will increase engagement and enthusiasm throughout the duration of the project. In the example of a security integration, the benefit to IT is that the external channel now has a risk mitigation in place. On the other hand, the goal for marketing is to have the security integration in place in order to go live on social or the owned website.
Once you formally develop the objective, start communicating with other teams, define who should be involved in the project, and acknowledge others who should have awareness or the chance to voice advice, as well. Openly communicate with your company’s IT, marketing, and public relations departments, as well as any other applicable teams who have a significant role to play in the project. Many large companies work in silos and it’s important to remember that it’s possible that other teams in your organization might be tasked with a similar objective.
Step 2: Document the process and provide documentation to each department for reference.
It’s important to note that marketers often have different documentation processes and don’t always create formal requirements or use an agile methodology like many IT teams. I recommend letting IT drive the documentation side of large projects. An IT analyst can be a marketer’s best friend, but marketers should keep in mind they will need to build more time up-front to ensure IT has the chance to go through a discovery process and formally document all requirements using their process.
Let your IT department drive the documentation side of large projects your marketing team tackles with them.
Stakeholder interviews are also a great way to ensure you’re meeting various company needs—plus, they give the team a lot of content to assess. Remember that it’s okay to update your documentation if you find an insight that streamlines your approach or that is in conflict with your initial assumptions. Let the data findings lead your decision-making and the team will be successful in the end. All this documentation will ensure everyone is fully aligned with the project scope, budget, and timeline.
Step 3: Identify who is responsible for which aspects of the project.
The great thing about assembling a large team is the fact you get to utilize a variety of different strengths and skills. For example, a person in public relations will have great insight into the audience and content strategy, while IT employees will bring their knowledge of web development to the table. When dealing with large-scale teams that include people from different departments, it is important to leverage everyone’s strengths and also allow people to understand what effort each team member is taking on.
This also provides a great opportunity to learn more about how the organization functions and what makes each department an essential part of the enterprise. Additionally, make sure everyone who is involved with the project knows their role and acknowledges both their value and the expected outcome of their participation.
Working cross-functionally on one project provides you the opportunity to learn more about how the organization functions.
Step 4: Work closely with your vendor partner to identify what is needed on their end.
While the focus of this post is collaboration within the internal enterprise, it’s also important to point out that vendor collaboration is essential to your team’s success. When you determine who your trusted partner is for your project, work closely with them to identify what steps they will be taking on. The team needs to be in sync and work closely together in order for this methodology to be effective. A project manager on the IT team will most likely be leading this effort and will work to keep everyone on track. It’s not uncommon to have a project manager on the vendor’s side, as well.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to document project team conversations and archive this content for future reference. Again, be collaborative and informative to make sure everyone is up to date, knows the project status, and can prioritize their tasks accordingly. I suggest sending out a weekly email detailing the status of the project and including all tasks with their deadline. Be mindful not to clutter the email; keeping it short and simple will make it more approachable and easier to read through.
Step 5: Once the project is complete, add documentation to each department goals and define how often the project will be updated.
You’ve done the front-end work, formed an internal team representing various departments, leveraged strengths, and launched something that meets the core objective—now, don’t let it get lost or out of date. Establish a timeline to check in on the project status, identify areas of improvement and measure its success. As teams change and business priorities evolve you’ll want to update the documentation to align with the business and continue to report to leadership and the broader organization if necessary.
Step 6: Measure the KPIs and report on your success.
You won’t know how successful you are until you start measuring and understanding that there will always be areas to improve. Identify and prioritize areas of improvement and develop a roadmap in place to optimize the project over time. Make sure to share these reports with the launch team as well as other internal stakeholders and leadership—shine a spotlight on the team's success.