8 key benefits of cross-functional team collaboration

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SandeepKashyap.jpegSupply chain management and procurement are no strangers to cross-functional teams. Many a procurement activity to find value in a market is supported by the efforts of cross-functional teams, comprising all sorts of individuals.

However, the success of a cross-functional team depends on certain factors. Sandeep Kashyap, Founder and CEO of ProofHub, a project management and collaboration software solution, unpacks what cross-functional collaboration can achieve in this month's SmartProcurement.

Join us at Smart Procurement World Western Cape on 9 & 10 April for a panel discussion on why most cross-functional teams fail and how to ensure yours does not

Cross-functional collaboration, or cross-team collaboration, is bringing people together from various spheres: their knowledge, expertise and experience.

The major point here is 'work-interdependency'. Teams have to work together to succeed.

Cross-team collaboration has become a necessity owing to constantly emerging new technology, competitors that continually scrum and companies that need to achieve more and more to stay on top of the game.

Nevertheless, it can be daunting to build a team that involves people from more than one department. But doing so is well worth it.

Here are some reasons why you should consider cross-functional collaboration in your own teams:

1. Gain better insights
Cross-functional collaboration is a great way to create a flurry of creative ideas. Creativity is, after all, a group process.

When project managers put together people who are experts in different subjects, each with their own unique skills sets, it brings about new perspectives. This method of collaboration will bring new insights to a team, provoke creative solutions and enhance development. With each team member bringing their own unique skills and knowledge to the table, the work will progress and thrive, bringing about solutions quicker than working in isolation.

2. Engage employees
In the past few years, employee engagement seems to be declining. According to a Gallup poll, 63% of employees are "not engaged" by their current position. This makes a big difference to the overall productivity of an organisation.

Shifting to team-orientated structures can boost team bonding and improve workplace dynamics. Furthermore, a strong leader at the reigns of a cross-functional team will help combat silo mentality and bridge the gap between team members.

3. Encourage innovative ideas
It is said that a cross-functional team is a calculated investment for teams to be productive and to work together. This is because a collaborative team brings new insights which stem from innovation. It is a great way to boost creative minds and to pool ideas together that separate businesses from their competitors.

When different minds playing different roles are brought together, they think outside of the box, producing substantially better results. When people think in new ways, it helps them to make smart mistakes, take better risks and spur on innovation and creativity.

4. Exercise communication skills
Effective team communication is the cornerstone of any successful project. It is an art that can make or break a team. Clear and concise communication encourages the sharing of ideas between cross-functional teams. Having a cross-functional team means bringing in a diverse group of people who can develop their struggles and strengths by way of communicating, through discussion and constructive feedback as well as via understanding diverse issues.

5. Develop management skills
Another great value in cross-functionality is the honing of management skills. Managing a team, of course, doesn't come naturally to everyone, thus it is a skill that must be polished by learning through experiences.

When teams are put together, management skills will be put to the test. You will need to develop special skills sets to work with diverse backgrounds and work styles as well as effectively lead a cross-functional team going through unique challenges.

6. Get to be in leadership roles
When you are working together with teams from different departments, you get the opportunity to be the boss or maybe even lead the way for your team. A manager, in turn, can give other members in a team the chance to lead a project so that they can learn how to lead in a leadership role as well as pump new life into a project.

7. Break stereotypes and benefit from diversity
Teams involve people from different areas, thus they will know the strengths of other teams. For example, when a tech team meets a non-tech team, they understand each other's efforts and take advantage of their knowledge. You then start to share common goals and foster understanding. This type of understanding breaks down stereotypes and is a boon for businesses.

Also, a diverse group of people of different ages, backgrounds and thoughts can bring new innovation to the table.

8. Build team spirit
The process of cross-functional teamwork will afford you the opportunity to create teams of high performers that can address important issues, grow more resilient and tackle big challenges. Together a team can create a sense of unity and learn more about patience.

Many teams in big organisations find it challenging to create cross-functional collaboration that goes the extra mile. So, you need to capitalise on time so that your cross-functional teams deliver their best as well as to their full advantage.

If you decide that your project needs a cross-functional approach, adopt the following cross-functional collaboration best practices to help you form a collaborative team:
- Identify who has the best skills sets
- Ensure that the right people are selected
- Build ongoing relationships with stakeholders
- Invest in collaboration software
- Encourage co-operation between different units
- Create mutually-supportive goals

Finally, the success of a cross-functional team depends on certain factors, without which a team will always be struggling. These factors include:
- Highly-motivated team members
- Open-minded team members
- Management that supports the team
- No conflicting personal goals
- Teams are held accountable for accomplishing a mission
- Clear priorities/direction
- Adequate communication

Sandeep Kashyap is the Founder and CEO of ProofHub, a leading project management and collaboration software solution. He is always on the lookout for innovative ideas to address the communication gap between groups, teams and organisations. You will find him saying, "Let's go!" instead of just "Go!", many times a day. That is what makes him write about leadership in a way that inspires people to dream more, learn more, do more and become more.

ProofHub

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