Effective collaboration between your business and IT departments is critical. Each IT project that your organization undertakes should align with your overarching business goals. If not, you may be wasting valuable time and resources on tasks that aren’t helping you strategically.
Facilitating collaboration between your business and IT departments is the easiest way to ensure that projects are on track and contributing value to your business. For this reason, we will go over some of the best ways to encourage and improve cross-department collaboration.
Resolve to Collaborate
The first step to facilitating better collaboration is getting both departments together and resolving to do exactly that. In big companies, it may be possible that your business and IT departments haven’t met, so getting everyone together can help them put a face to a name. In doing so, they can start building relationships with one another and develop mutual respect for the other department.
While it may seem like relationship building isn’t a necessity in business, it is. The better relationships that your business and IT departments have with one another, the more likely they will communicate and collaborate efficiently.
This meeting can also help identify points of contact for specific projects or tasks. If team members know the right person to reach out to when they need help, they’ll be more likely to correct issues, keep projects on track, and find success. Identifying key allies in other departments enables each department to get the resources and help they need to secure mutual wins.
Ensure Common Understanding
A defining component of collaboration is mutual understanding. Not only do both departments need to have an understanding of their shared goals, but they also need to understand the same basic language. When an IT department is working internally, they can use ubiquitous language and jargon and still understand one another, but that may not be the case when speaking with the business department.
The same goes for the business department. While using certain terminologies and language may seem straightforward internally, the language they use may not be clear enough for the IT department to translate into actionable tasks. For this reason, each department has to take the time to slow down and explain things thoroughly to one another. Using common language ensures clarity in projects so that both departments have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and what needs to be done.
In addition to using common language between departments, it is also essential that your business and IT departments align their expectations and goals. As mentioned previously, each project that your organization undertakes should contribute to an overarching strategic business goal. Beyond this, goals between your business and IT departments need to be aligned with one another as well.
Even if your departments collaborate and communicate efficiently, they still need to manage expectations. Departments should mutually agree on deadlines and goals, ensuring that they are reasonable and achievable.
Consider this: the business department is waiting on a crucial software development project necessary for their own project, and they expect to have it by the end of the week. While the IT department is working on this, they know that it will take at least a month to complete. Without discussing deadlines and goals beforehand, the business department will be left idle and frustrated, while the IT department feels rushed and equally as frustrated.
Clearly, there was a disconnect in expectations in this situation. This is why it is essential that both departments explicitly communicate their expectations, creating an opportunity for the other department to speak up.
Consider having your departments answer these questions:
- Who will deliver what?
- When would be a realistic deadline for both departments?
- How will this be delivered?
- How and when will communication occur?
With these questions answered, departments can determine a realistic deadline while identifying which resources are needed and what tasks should be prioritized. With expectation management, your business and IT departments can efficiently work in tandem to achieve mutual goals.
Optimize Internal Processes
Once your business and IT departments have discussed resources and deadlines, it’s time to get to work. But, just because your departments have sorted out collaboration and logistics issues doesn’t mean that they are working as efficiently as they could be. To truly improve business and IT collaboration, your organization needs to optimize internal processes.
In optimizing internal processes, you are helping your team members help themselves. The more optimally that processes can run, the faster and better your results will be. It will also ensure that both departments have the means to work and communicate efficiently.
One way to improve internal processes is by adopting an Agile approach. The Agile approach to projects cultivates cross-functional, self-organizing teams that work in close collaboration. Agile teams can facilitate adaptive planning, continual delivery, and flexibility in response to change, ensuring project efficiency and success.
An agile mindset will allow both departments to adjust to changes effectively and revisit priorities as needed. While it is ideal for all projects to be completed laterally, that isn’t always the case. Issues may arise diverting one department’s attention, so adopting the Agile approach can help team members address issues as they arise and refocus their attention later on.
In addition to adopting Agile, implementing automation can also be an excellent way to optimize internal processes. Automation is instrumental in accelerating and improving routine business processes. What in the past may have required hours of repetitive action can be completed in minutes through automation.
Not only does this make processes more accurate as it eliminates the risk of human error, but it also saves team members tremendous time. With more time on their hands, team members can focus on more pressing or strategic tasks, contributing to high-priority business goals. As such, both departments can work more efficiently, improving outcomes and meeting deadlines.
Collaboration is the Key to Success
While you may feel as though your business and IT departments are managing as they are, the truth is that if they aren’t collaborating, they aren’t working as effectively as possible. Collaboration, communication, and mutual respect are the foundation of a successful project team, and your organization relies on cross-department functionality.
Making a conscious effort to facilitate collaboration between these departments is critical for the success of your project and your business as a whole. Setting clear expectations for deadlines, goals, and resources while cultivating relationships between departments is vital. In doing so, your business and IT departments will drastically improve collaboration, ensuring company-wide efficiency and cohesion.