Collaboration is more than just a buzzword. It’s a key component of effective business operations, whether you work for a Fortune 500 corporation or a small, family-owned business. As a project manager, you’re responsible for meeting deadlines, solving problems, and making sure stakeholders receive all agreed upon deliverables. Collaboration makes those things possible.
One way to increase collaboration is to adopt the practice of cross-teaming, which involves setting up teams composed of employees from different departments. Cross-teaming doesn’t eliminate last minute changes, but it does make project teams more successful.
In this article, you’ll learn what cross-teaming is, how it enhances collaboration, and why it’s especially important for project management. You’ll walk away with a solid understanding of the benefits of cross-teaming and its applications in a business environment.
What is cross-teaming?
Cross-teaming is the practice of having teams work together to reach a common goal. It’s sometimes called cross-functional collaboration or cross-team collaboration. As these names imply, collaboration is the name of the game. Employees from different areas of the organization work together, combining their knowledge and skills to achieve company goals. Now that you know the definition of cross-teaming, let’s examine some of its key benefits.
“Cross-teaming” is a part of our Project Management Glossary — check out the full list of terms and definitions!
Why is cross-team collaboration so important for businesses?
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic started, some employees felt lonely at work. Loneliness occurs for many reasons, but one common cause is the siloing of departments that occurs in many organizations. Siloing refers to the grouping of employees by location, department, or specialization.
Grouping employees together by job function makes sense, but sometimes it causes team members to feel disconnected from what’s happening in the rest of the company. Cross-teaming reduces loneliness and isolation by giving employees opportunities to collaborate with people in other departments. When team members form new connections, they’re more likely to have innovative ideas that benefit the organization.
Cross-teaming promotes innovation and creativity in organizations of all sizes.
Diverse points of view
When the same employees work together all the time, they often start to think the same way. Creating a cross-functional team exposes department members to new ways of thinking, making it easier to overcome business challenges. Team members bring their knowledge, skills, abilities, and life experiences to the table, ensuring the team has as much information as possible when making decisions about new products, pricing strategies, and marketing methods.
Increased knowledge sharing
Siloing also makes it difficult for team members to share their knowledge with each other. If an employee in the marketing department discovers an unmet need in the marketplace, for example, it’s difficult to fill that need if the employees responsible for product development don’t know about it. Cross-functional collaboration promotes knowledge sharing, ensuring that the organization can take advantage of new opportunities for growth.
It’s clear that cross-teaming has many benefits for organizations in general, but it’s also beneficial for project teams. Let’s take a look at why cross-teaming is important in project management.
Why cross-teaming is important in project management
In project management, cross-teaming brings together employees from different departments, ensuring that each department has at least one person advocating for its interests. A cross-functional project team may include software developers, quality assurance professionals, marketing specialists, and salespeople. These team members share their knowledge and use their skills to meet project goals and satisfy stakeholders.
Benefits of cross-functional project teams
A major benefit of cross-functional project teams is the ability to adapt quickly to changes in the project’s scope or schedule. Imagine that you’re leading a team responsible for developing and launching a new mobile application. The client asks you to deliver the app 30 days sooner than planned. If you didn’t have a cross-functional team, you’d have to contact the software development team and wait to hear from them about the feasibility of meeting the earlier deadline. Cross-teaming makes it possible to collaborate with developers immediately, enabling you to make quick decisions that benefit all project stakeholders.
Cross-teaming also encourages team members to work toward shared goals. If each department operates separately from the others, it’s easy for department employees to become laser-focused on their own goals and performance indicators. For example, employees in the accounting department may be so worried about minimizing expenses that they’re not willing to support an innovative new product. When employees from different departments work together, however, they have the opportunity to set shared goals and support each other for the duration of the project.
As you can see, cross-teaming helps project teams embrace shared goals and adapt quickly to unexpected changes. This creates a collaborative business environment, which has several benefits, as described below.
The benefits of working in a collaborative business environment
One of the main benefits of working in a collaborative business environment is that employees have many opportunities to learn from each other. Each person brings a unique set of knowledge and skills to the group, making it easier for everyone to learn new things. For example, if the team has a computer expert, that person may be able to help other team members learn how to use online collaboration tools to increase productivity.
A collaborative business environment also makes it easier to solve problems. Even if team members don’t agree on everything, examining the problem from different angles makes it easier to generate potential solutions. Researchers from Columbia University have even confirmed that the number of perspectives considered is directly related to the number of solutions generated. Now that you understand the benefits of a collaborative business environment, here are a few examples of how cross-teaming can help your company.The more perspectives your team considers, the more ideas they’re likely to generate.
Examples of cross-team collaboration and what they mean for your team
Cross-team collaboration comes in many forms. These are just a few examples of how you can use cross-teaming as a project manager:
- Adding an accountant to your project team can help other team members better understand how their tasks contribute to the total cost of the project.
- Members of the marketing team can consult with the software development team to learn about a new product’s features, making it easier to promote the product later on.
- If the sales team regularly meets with the marketing team, your top salespeople can provide feedback about what marketing tactics are the most effective.
To make cross-teaming even more effective, it’s wise to set up a dedicated communication channel and encourage team members to use it to share ideas. monday.com has tools to facilitate communication and promote cross-team collaboration.
How monday.com helps you achieve goals with cross-teaming
monday.com Work OS has built-in tools to enhance collaboration among team members. With templates for software development, product management, marketing, and more, it’s easier for team members to communicate with each other and keep up with project updates.
Frequently asked questions
What is a cross-functional team?
A cross-functional team is a team composed of employees from several departments. These teams typically include representatives from sales, marketing, quality assurance, finance, and product development.
How do you manage cross-functional teams?
Cross-functional teams have several benefits, but they still need to be managed effectively. The first step is to choose team members with excellent communication skills and a willingness to share their knowledge with others. It’s also helpful to build a diverse team, especially if you want team members to have access to a variety of perspectives. Before the team starts collaborating, set a shared goal and develop clear expectations for participation.
Promote cross-team collaboration with monday.com
Cross-teaming encourages knowledge sharing and ensures that team members are exposed to as many perspectives as possible. It also contributes to a collaborative business environment, making it easier to solve problems. monday.com offers project management templates and other tools to make cross-teaming even more effective.