11 Ways to Improve Cross-Departmental Collaboration

- By Ajay Kumar | October 10, 2023
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Imagine a situation where your firm is on a significant initiative of developing a website for a high-end client. This project can only be delivered when teams from the web development, content, designing, and digital marketing departments come together. Can you imagine creating this website without proper multi-departmental collaboration between the respective teams? Certainly not.

Cross-departmental collaboration is undoubtedly an integral part of a thriving work culture today. In fact, according to goremotely, approximately 75% of employees regard collaboration and teamwork as essential parts of the workplace.

However, team members overlook the importance of communicating critical information amid the pressure of meeting deadlines. Moreover, some departments treat it as a race and compete to reach the finish line.

Competition instead of cross-team collaboration can adversely impact the project’s course.

This article shows you the importance of collaboration and cross-team collaboration best practices.

Let us first define the term interdepartmental collaboration

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What is cross-departmental collaboration?

Cross-departmental collaboration, also known as interdepartmental collaboration, is the process of individuals or teams from different departments or areas within an organization working together to achieve a common goal. It involves sharing knowledge, resources, and expertise between various departments to improve overall organizational performance and achieve better outcomes.

What is an example of cross-departmental team collaboration?

An example of cross-functional team collaboration could be a project on new product launch. This project would require input and collaboration from various teams across the organization, including product design, engineering, marketing, sales, and customer service.

The design team would create the physical product and the engineering department would ensure that it’s technically feasible to manufacture and release the product on time. In addition, the marketing team would create campaigns to promote the product and gain more customers. Finally, the sales department would develop pricing strategies and identify target markets, and customer service would ensure that customers have a positive experience after purchase.

Throughout the project, members of each team would work together, sharing information and expertise to ensure that the product is launched successfully. This cross-functional collaboration helps to ensure that the project goals are met, and that the final product meets the needs of both the business and its customers.

Now, let’s understand the key elements of a collaborative team.

Key Elements of Collaborative Team

Collaborative teams are essential in many work environments and can greatly contribute to the success of projects and achieving organizational goals. Here are key elements of collaborative teams:


Autonomy refers to the ability of team members to make decisions and take actions independently, within the scope of their responsibilities. This means trusting team members to work on their tasks without constant micromanagement. It allows individuals to showcase their expertise and take ownership of their work, which can lead to increased motivation and better results.


Cooperation is the foundation of collaborative teams. It involves team members working together towards a common goal. This means sharing information, resources, and ideas, and being willing to help one another. Effective cooperation can lead to a synergy where the collective output is greater than the sum of individual contributions.

Mutual Trust & Respect

Trust and respect are crucial for a collaborative team to function effectively. Team members need to trust that their colleagues will deliver on their commitments and respect each other’s opinions and contributions. This will help create a positive work environment, reduce conflicts, and foster better collaboration.


Accountability ensures that team members are responsible for their actions, commitments, and outcomes. When team members are held accountable for their work, it promotes a sense of ownership and ensures that tasks are completed on time and to the required quality standards.


Effective communication is the glue that holds a collaborative team together. It involves both verbal and non-verbal interactions, as well as active listening. Clear and open communication will ensures that team members are on the same page, understand each other’s needs and concerns, and can coordinate their efforts effectively.

Now, that we know the key elements, lets read why collaborating with cross-functional teams is essential!Experience the Future of Resource Management Software

Why is cross-departmental collaboration important?

Cross-departmental collaboration, which involves teams or individuals from different departments or areas of an organization working together, is important for several reasons:

Enhances employee performance and productivity

Collaboration across departments can lead to increased knowledge sharing and skill development among employees. When individuals from different areas collaborate, they often learn from each other, gaining insights and expertise that can improve their performance. This exchange of knowledge can also lead to increased efficiency and productivity in completing tasks and projects.

Improves the decision-making process

Collaborating across departments brings different perspectives to the table. This diversity of viewpoints can lead to more well-rounded and informed decision-making. Teams that draw on insights from multiple areas of the organization are better equipped to identify potential risks and opportunities and make strategic decisions that align with the overall goals of the company.

Facilitates effective conflict resolution

Conflicts and disagreements can arise in any organization, but cross-departmental collaboration can provide a platform for resolving them more effectively. When individuals from different departments work together, they are often exposed to different working styles and priorities. This exposure can help team members develop conflict resolution skills and find mutually beneficial solutions.

Boosts creativity and innovation

Innovation often thrives at the intersection of different disciplines and perspectives. When employees from various departments collaborate, they bring diverse ideas, experiences, and approaches to problem-solving. This diversity of thought can spark creativity and lead to innovative solutions and new product/service offerings.

Promotes trust and transparency

Cross-departmental collaboration fosters a culture of trust and transparency within an organization. When employees from different areas work together, they gain a better understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities, which can reduce misunderstandings and foster trust. Additionally, sharing information and insights across departments can lead to a more open and transparent organizational culture.

Read More: How to Foster Trust and Transparency in Remote teams

Knowing the significance of cross-functional team collaboration, let’s investigate some challenges hindering effective collaboration.

Common challenges that hinder cross-departmental collaboration

Successful collaboration in the workplace positively influences the company, business, or project. But there are specific roadblocks that make it difficult for effective collaboration. Listed below are a few:

Improper communication

When organizations cannot foster open communication in the workplace, it poses a challenge for teams collaboration, and they are less likely to be involved in activities. Additionally, this will lead to the failure of the project.

Lack of vision

When firms do not have clear goals, teams work without a purpose, which will not add value and reduces their productivity, efficiency, and motivation. Moreover, a lack of vision makes it difficult for managers or leaders to delegate work effectively to employees.

Difficulty in Building trust

Trust, an essential aspect of collaboration, cannot be developed without adequate collaboration between team members. Trust can be built only when organizations promote a conducive work environment for their employees.

Inadequate Support of Leaders

Leadership plays a pivotal role in promoting and sustaining cross-departmental collaboration. When leaders fail to prioritize or actively support collaborative initiatives, teams may lack the necessary guidance, resources, or motivation to work together effectively.

Conflicting Goals and priorities

Departments often have their own goals and priorities, which may not always align with the goals of other departments or the organization as a whole. When there is a lack of alignment, it can lead to competition for resources and a reluctance to cooperate.

Lack of proper Feedback and appreciation

Organizations that do not encourage their employees with regular feedback and appreciation will see a dip in productivity and performance. In addition, when employees’ efforts and contributions are not recognized, it may lead to demotivation and cause disengagement in work.

Technological deficiency

The rise in work-from-home and remote teams has increased the need to adopt advanced technologies. To promote effective communication and collaboration between the remote units, firms must provide proper tools and technologies to ensure that all the team members are on the same page.

Owing to the challenges mentioned above, managers should strive to improve and maintain cross-departmental collaboration in the workplace. Here are some strategies to promote team collaboration:

11 strategies to improve collaboration between departments

To successfully run a business, firms must ensure effective collaboration between teams and departments. But this involves various things like developing a shared vision, mutual respect, a thorough understanding of each member’s roles and responsibilities, etc. Here are some best practices to improve your team’s collaboration.

Provide executive support

Employees look up to their higher-ups in the organization to lead by example. When the firm’s top executives invest time and effort in building social relationships, it becomes the DNA of the company culture. Therefore, it is essential for executives to demonstrate collaborative and interactive behavior to ensure it is followed throughout the firm.

Foster and model collaborative culture

Not just the executives but also project managers play an essential role in setting a tone for successful collaboration. Resources will follow if project managers initiate meetings with their counterparts to comprehend their progress and challenges. It will foster a sense of collective responsibility amongst everyone and build trust.

Managers can develop their signature practices to keep inter-departmental cooperation interesting. For example, you can organize a joint discussion at a regular cafe or manage a sports match on weekends or more. Initiating and leading by example will help managers embed a sense of community amongst their workforce and facilitate effective collaboration.

Define communication methods and channels

Encouraging effective communication between departments is only half the battle won. The real task is standardizing communication procedures and helping everyone know when and how to communicate. Before the project’s onset, managers must define the communication channels and processes to be followed.

This includes,

  • Specifying when to use the synchronous or asynchronous mode of communication.
  • Communication etiquette is to be followed by the resources when engaging in cross-functional communication.
  • Team collaboration tools or apps to be equipped to allow the smooth exchange of information.
  • Concerned authority to be addressed and contacted in case of any pressing matter or escalation.

Convey the ultimate goal and vision with transparency

One of the most critical responsibilities of a decision-maker is to convey the firm’s goals and objectives with the utmost transparency. If you expect your cross-functional team to work cohesively, you must periodically educate them about the goals and vision. When your workforce is aware of how their work adds value, they are more likely to take the initiative. This will gradually increase communication, improve collaboration between departments and maintain the flow of data.

Share and exchange feedback

There is always room for improvement whether you are an executive or working at a junior level. To help your employees improve, project managers can connect with different department heads to hold project closure meetings. These meetings will help everyone share and exchange feedback. Decision-makers will know from employees if the process needs to be improved, and employees will know the areas they need to work on.

This feedback exchange meeting will encourage cross-functional team collaboration and give everyone a fair chance to grow professionally.

Read More: 7 Proven Ways to Give Constructive Feedback to Your Employees

Train the staff for the right skillset

You may encounter a situation where you have already established communicative company culture, but some team members still lack those habits that can help them merge. Managers can initiate training programs to fill these skill gaps and make a notable difference in team performance.

A classic example of the firm that initiated such programs is Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Their training modules include teamwork, Emotional Intelligence, and networking. They also train employees to communicate the firm’s strategy and build healthy partnerships.

Including such modules in your training program and honing your workforce’s soft skills will improve collaboration at work and give an added advantage.

Read More: Top 7 Business Benefits of Training Scheduling Software

Gain an enterprise-wide visibility

Effective inter-departmental coordination can only happen when everyone in the team is on the same page, or it may lead to unnecessary conflicts. To do so, managers can deploy a resource management tool to provide them with a bird’s eye view of the resources and projects.

With this, managers can assign good work to the right person and collaborate better. Moreover, resources will know the project’s progress and can work more efficiently.

Understand the interdependencies

Taking the previous example of website designing, it’s clear that every task, from website content to design, is interdependent. Employees must make an effort to understand these interdependencies. It will facilitate better cross-team collaboration.

For instance, if you are working on the content, you can collaborate better with the design team when you know how your work will affect theirs.

Initiate joint projects between departments

The next step after understanding the interdependencies is to take up more projects that involve cross-functional coordination. More so, when resources collaborate with other departments, it will help them communicate better. They can then readily solve complex issues together.

Implement rewards and recognition program

Resources help you meet the project deadlines with all your might and capabilities. It is needless to say that their work and effort deserve acknowledgment. Project managers and executives can integrate rewards and recognition programs into their workplace policies to acknowledge hard work. This step will encourage effective team collaboration with the higher-ups and colleagues.

Read More: Employee Recognition Programs: Types, Benefits and Best Practices

Organize team-building activities

All work, no play is a recipe for low productivity and disengagement. If your team is only communicating formally during meetings or project discussions, then the human element is missing from the equation. To get this right, department managers can collaborate and cooperate in organizing various team-building activities. This exercise is beneficial to understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly. It is always healthy to have some fun at the workplace along with work.

You can use these ways to improve interdepartmental collaboration at your firm.


The late American business magnate Steve Jobs once said, ‘One person never does great things in business.’ This adage holds in every sense. One cannot accomplish projects and reach milestones without the help of others.

Cross-functional collaboration is, therefore, a key to a business’s success.

The above tips will help you improve and maintain effective collaboration between departments. In addition, it will help you enhance your profitability and add glory to employees’ productivity and engagement.

What ways do you follow to foster collaboration at your company?


Read More: Glossary of Resource Workforce Planning, Scheduling and Management

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