Ways CMOs Can Excel at Cross-Departmental Collaboration

What is cross-departmental collaboration?

Why cross-departmental collaborations fail

  • Unclear governance. When departments come together on behalf of the entire organization, a clear governance structure is essential. Not only does the overall effort need an accountable leader, but so does each individual function that helps to achieve the end goal. When it is unclear who is in charge, the end result is likely a failure.
  • Lack of accountability. Perhaps you’ve served on a cross-functional team where tasks weren’t completed on time, meetings are often canceled or tabled, and when meetings do occur, people arrive unprepared. If team members are not held accountable for their share of the work, the collaborative effort will stall and enthusiasm will wane. If there’s no leader, there’s no accountability, and vice versa.
  • Imprecise goals. Multiple departments working together toward a common goal sounds like “the right thing to say,” but if there are no defined goals and objectives, it’s all just lip service and no action is taken. Again, failure. Goals need to be actionable and measurable.
  • Failure to prioritize cross-functional collaboration. It’s easy to become engrossed in the day-to-day of your own team, but the downside is that your department may unknowingly become a bottleneck for other departments that you work with regularly, such as Sales, Accounting, and IT. While it’s natural to want your department to be recognized for its good work, it shouldn’t come at the expense of other departments. Remember: you’re all on the same team!

How to help cross-departmental collaborations succeed

  • Re-evaluate current processes. Step back and fully assess the way your team works with other departments. What problems are you all collectively trying to solve? Are you successful at solving those problems or should something change? Identify existing or potential bottlenecks, and then work on a plan to improve the way in which your departments interact.
  • Share information about your department. Regularly communicate with other departments about what your team is doing and how those departments can help. Request similar information from other departments. Ask to attend their department team meetings, or ask for a regular meeting with department leadership to communicate key findings from your marketing data.
  • Don’t assume everyone knows what you’re talking about. Stay away from using jargon or getting too deep into the weeds of your day to day. First, learn all you can about the function of each department, and then use your marketing data and campaigns to help that department understand how you can help them and more importantly, how their work helps your marketing efforts and your organization overall.
  • Set goals together. Meet regularly with the departments to brainstorm and establish common goals. When departments that routinely collaborate are all working toward the same set of common goals, competing priorities disappear, and so do some common bottlenecks.
  • Prioritize deadlines. Make sure you understand when other departments might need things from you, and vice versa. Having mutual respect for each other’s deadlines and staying accountable to them will foster positive collaboration.
  • Make data-driven decisions. With a state-of-the-art system for collecting customer data, you can demonstrate how meaningful data impacts your daily decisions and marketing efforts. Perform a comprehensive marketing automation analysis, determine what you need to collect and analyze better data, and develop a roadmap for success that ensures you stay on track for at least the next year or more.

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