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6 step guide to better cross-team collaboration

Learn the top tips for better cross-team collaboration. Discover the best collaboration tools to improve teamwork, workflows, and company culture.
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"Collaboration" is always a hot term in business. But what does it really mean?

In its simplest form, collaboration is working together to achieve a common goal. This definition can be applied to any type of relationship — between people, teams, or even businesses.

We want healthy collaboration in our lives — especially at work.

Why? Because it makes working together easier.

Plus, when people work well together, they are more productive — which, in the bigger picture, yields better results for the whole company.

Just thinking about a perfect work environment with seamless communication, efficient workflows, and amazing collaboration is enough to give anyone the warm fuzzies.

But it can be hard to actually make it happen — especially across different teams with different perspectives.

The good news is that with a little bit of effort, you can set the stage for effective collaboration and reap all the benefits of cross-team collaboration.

In this guide, we'll tell you everything you need to know to have improved cross-team collaboration.

What is cross-team collaboration?

Cross-team collaboration is when teams from different departments within a company come together to work on a project.

Cross-team collaboration can be used to improve communication and understanding between different teams, team leaders, and groups of people. It can be used, for example, when a company is working on a new product or service or when they need to solve a problem that has several different parts.

The sales team and marketing team will have to come together for some cross-functional collaboration to get the product in front of potential customers. The development team and the design team will need to work together to make sure the product is easy to use and looks great.

In order for a company to be successful, it's important that all of these teams are able to work together effectively, so the stakeholders and customers are happy with the end result.

Why is cross-team collaboration so important for businesses? 

Cross-team collaboration is how work gets done.

In order for a business to be successful, all of the different teams need to be working together towards a common goal.

If one team is working on a project and they're not able to get the input or help from another team, it can hold up the entire project. This can lead to frustration and delays, which can cost the company time and money.

When done correctly, cross-team collaboration can help a company to be more efficient and productive. It can create a company culture of great team communication, successful cross-functional projects, better workflows, and improved problem-solving.

However, it can also be challenging, as it can be difficult to get everyone on the same page.

According to a Harvard Business Review study, nearly 75% of cross-functional teams are dysfunctional.

We don't know if you've noticed, but when different groups of people have to interact and work together — it doesn't always go perfectly.

Communication breakdowns happen.

Tempers flare.

Work gets duplicated.

The project falls behind schedule.

It can be a nightmare.

Poor collaboration and team communication can lead to confusion and frustration.

One of the biggest struggles is digital collaboration. Technology is here to stay, and the rise in remote work has made us more digitally reliant than ever before. But technology and digital record keeping can get confusing fast. This is because it can be hard to keep track of who is doing what, when things are due, and where to locate important documents for project management.

OSlash can help.

It's a text expander cum link management tool that is specifically designed to help your team collaborate digitally more effectively with short links that are easy to remember such as o/roadmap, creating a single source of truth and saving valuable time.

Check out our guide to better digital collaboration here.

The benefits of working together in a collaborative environment

If you can't work well with others, you might as well just stay at home and watch Netflix all day.

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration.

But the point is, collaboration is essential for anyone who wants to be successful in business.

Here are some of the benefits of collaboration:

  • Increased productivity. When people work together, they can get more done in less time.
  • Better problem-solving. Two heads are better than one. When people work together, they can brainstorm and come up with solutions that they wouldn't have thought of on their own.
  • Increased employee engagement. Employees who are engaged in their work are more likely to be productive and stay with the company.
  • Improved communication. Working together can help people to communicate better and understand each other's point of view.
  • Retain top talent. The best employees want to work for a company that values collaboration. If you want to attract and retain the best talent, you need to create a company culture that is collaborative.
  • Increased innovation. Collaboration can lead to new ideas and ways of doing things.
  • Better customer service. When employees work together, they can provide better service and customer support.
  • Eliminate workplace silos. Collaboration can help to break down barriers between departments and eliminate workplace silos. Workplace silos are when different parts of a company don't work together. This can lead to confusion and frustration.
  • Happier stakeholders. When stakeholders see that the company is working together effectively, they're more likely to be happy with the results.
  • Faster project completion. When people work together, they can complete projects faster because they're working towards the same team goals.
  • Get buy-in and support. When people feel like they're part of the process, they're more likely to support the project.
  • Continuous improvement. Employees learn from one another, expanding their skillsets and knowledge base, leading to continuous improvement.

Here are 6 steps for stronger cross-team collaboration

Collaboration. We all want it — but how do you actually make it happen in the workplace?

There's no magic answer, but there are some things you can do to encourage and facilitate collaboration among your team members.

Let’s review six steps you can take to improve cross team collaboration efforts in your organization.

1. Establish roles and responsibilities for each team member

One of the first steps you need to take to improve cross-team collaboration is to establish roles and responsibilities for each team project.

Cross-functional teams need clear roles to improve teamwork.

Figure out who is responsible for what and divvy up responsibilities clearly. This will help everyone understand their role in the project and how they fit into the bigger picture. It will also help to avoid duplication of work and ensure that everyone is clear on what needs to be done.

For example, if you're working on a marketing campaign, you might have one team responsible for creating the content, another team responsible for designing the materials, and another team responsible for distributing the materials.

Establishing team roles and expectations early on will help the project run more smoothly and efficiently.

2. Align project goals and share them with everyone

How can you win the game if you don't know where the goal posts are?

It's important that everyone on the team is aware of the project goals and knows what needs to be done in order to achieve them.

Make sure that the team project goals are aligned with the company goals.

Think big picture.

Does the goal align with the company culture? Is the goal attainable, realistic, and measurable?

Is it an initiative everyone can get behind?

Then, share the goals with everyone on the team and make sure they understand them.

For example, if the goal of the project is to increase sales by 20%, make sure that everyone knows what needs to be done in order to make that happen.

Consider setting some clear KPIs or key performance indicators so everyone is on the same page on what to look for.

Team leaders should have this goal in mind as they follow up with team members and provide feedback. This will help to ensure that everyone is working towards the same objectives and that they know what needs to be done in order to achieve them.

3. Make it clear who will be the project lead

Who's in charge?

It's important to have a project lead who is responsible for keeping the team on track and ensuring that the project goals are met.

The project lead should be someone who is organized, has a clear vision for the project, and is able to communicate effectively with team members.

When you're working on a cross-team project, it's especially important to have a project lead who is able to keep everyone on track and moving in the same direction.

This person will be responsible for ensuring that everyone is on the same page and that tasks are being completed in a timely manner. They will also be the go-to person for questions or concerns about the project.

4. Centralize communication channels

Slack, Google Hangouts, Basecamp — there are so many communication tools out there.

When you're working on a cross-team project, it's important to have a centralized communication channel where everyone can easily access project information and updates.

Missed communications can set a project back, so it's important to have a place where team members can easily stay up-to-date on what's going on.

A central communication channel will also help to avoid confusion and miscommunication.

For example, if team members use different channels to communicate with each other (e.g., Slack for one team and Google Hangouts for another), it can be difficult to keep track of all the conversations and know who is doing what.

Read our guide on the best tools to improve internal communication.

5. Set a clear timeline for the project

You want to get work done fast. You want to get work done on time.

In order to do those things, you need to have a clear timeline for the project.

For example, if team members are expecting the project to be completed by a certain date, but there is no timeline in place, they may start working on their tasks prematurely or too late.

Again, this is where having a strong project lead comes in handy.

The project lead should work with team members to establish a timeline for the project and make sure that everyone is aware of it. This is especially important when planning meetings to keep up to date on progress and when you're working with remote teams in different time zones.

Everyone needs to establish timelines and deadlines that work. Then start planning a schedule on a shared calendar to stay on track — even better if the calendar is synced in real-time for everyone on the project. This way, team members will know when they need to have tasks completed, and they can plan accordingly.

A clear timeline will also help to ensure that the project stays on track and doesn't get off course.

6. Give employees the right tools to collaborate

If you want employees to collaborate effectively, you need to give them the right tools to do so.

There are a variety of collaboration tools out there.

Consider finding a great project management tool that can help to keep everyone on track. Project management software can make a difference in helping your team improve cross-functionality.

There are also a number of communication tools that can be helpful for team members who need to stay in touch, even when they're not in the same location.

Remote teams can chat on Slack, attend video team meetings on Google Meet, or even use a tool like Google Docs to work on projects together in real-time.

No matter what tools you choose, it's important to make sure that everyone has access to them and knows how to use them.

Collaboration software like Asana, Trello, and Jira can be helpful for keeping track of tasks and progress across many different groups of people.

Want to help your team work better together?

OSlash makes it easy to find and share documents across teams. You can create simple, easy-to-remember, intuitive shortcuts for seamless information sharing.

Access and share documents like branding information with a shortcut like o/branding or your latest content calendar with o/content-cal.

Your team can stop wasting time with messy attachments or complex file-sharing workflows with OSlash.

Collaborate effectively with OSlash

Unlock hyper-efficient productivity across your teams with OSlash.

OSlash makes it easy to share and navigate important documents like company benefits. It's as easy as typing o/benefits. Or access all your onboarding materials with a simple short link like o/onboarding.

All your links will have a home.

OSlash will help your company establish a single source of truth, so every team knows where to find the most up-to-date project information.

Every essential file is named and organized in one place in real-time.

Collaboration cannot be easier.

Get started with OSlash today and see how easy it is to keep your team organized and on the same page.

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