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How to Improve Cross-Departmental Collaboration

Lindsay McGuire
February 13, 2020
Min Read

How often do you complete a large project, from start to finish, on your own? I’m going to guess the answer is never, especially if you work at an organization with lots of employees.

No matter what department you’re in, it’s highly likely you need to work across departments to get work done. We can’t do it all on our own, especially when a project includes specialties outside our wheelhouse. Yet cross-departmental collaboration goes beyond simply needing to tap into the skillsets of others.

Science proves teamwork is incredibly important in regards to creating a healthy, high-functioning, and successful working environment. We all want that, right?

If you’re ready to break out of those departmental silos and improve how you work cross-functionally, check out the tips below.

Bring teams together from the onset of a project.

Nobody enjoys getting left out in the dark during a project. Something that might be worse is getting dragged in at the 11th hour and being expected to do a ton of work. These situations create a poor environment and can have a very negative impact on team relations.

To avoid hitting these snags, identify important project stakeholders across all departments before beginning a project. Then invite everyone to a quick kick-off meeting to ensure all parties are on the same page. This meeting should include information on project scope, deliverables, timelines, and how to measure success.

Use the same tools across the org.

How often have you started to jump into a project only to realize two of your coworkers use a completely different tool to do the same work?

Uniting teams across departments is much simpler when you all utilize the same tools and systems. You may not be able to make any large changes to your software, systems, and processes now, but you can make important changes going forward.

When considering purchasing new software, take an audit across your entire organization to see what similar tools are already being used. Can your team adopt this tool and avoid adding yet another system to your tech stack?

If your organization isn’t currently using a tool that fulfills your specific needs, ask other departments for input on what features, tools, or capabilities might be helpful to them. Investing in one tool that can be used across departments is always a smart move. It helps avoid wasting money on multiple tools that perform the same function, and it improves adoption of new tools across your organization.

Bond across departments over more than just work.

To do better work, you need to build strong relationships with more than just those on your direct team. Take some time each week to chat with someone in another department to form bonds outside your team and learn more about what others in your organization do. This will help you get a better understanding of who does what on teams outside your own, making it easier to connect with the right coworkers on future projects.

But your chats should go beyond discussing just work. To build strong relationships, it’s important to know your coworkers on a personal level as well. Why? Because stronger relationships lead to better results.

If you’re looking for a way to easily facilitate more cross-departmental collaboration, creating regular communications across departments is key. If you’re a Slack user, we highly recommend using Donut.

Donut Slack App for cross-departmental collaboration

This Slack app randomly pairs employees who don’t interact often for 30-minute chats. It’s a great way to build relationships, expand trust, and improve teamwork.

Conclusion: Communication is key!

To sum it up, successful cross-departmental collaboration depends mostly on communication. If you’re communicating clearly, often, and early, you’ll see your projects flow better, finish faster, and reap greater results.

Connecting across departments, employee levels, and teams ensures greater success on large projects and initiatives. Learn more about how to improve cross-departmental collaboration by listening to We’re All in this Together, the first episode of our new podcast, Ripple Effect.


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Lindsay McGuire
Lindsay is the Content Marketing Manager at Formstack, splitting her time between creating blog content, writing reports, and hosting Formstack's Practically Genius podcast. She's a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism (MIZ!) and loves connecting with others on LinkedIn.
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