Interdepartmental processes are a fundamental part of our company to guarantee teamwork and coordination between all areas. Collaboration between all teams and the organized distribution of information are two aspects that go hand in hand in any organization.
In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about interdepartmental processes, how they are composed and what tools you can use to improve them.
What are interdepartmental processes?
Interdepartmental processes are about team collaboration, which means more than just 'having a group of people working together. For these processes to be carried out, internal communication is a vital element that must be taken into account.
Collaboration refers to processes and practices that help team members to:
- Share knowledge
- Organize workloads
- Keep the entire company up-to-date
- Learn from each other
- Achieve a shared goal or deliverable
Impact and foundations
There's a universal truth here: A process that doesn't help make collaboration effective doesn't go as fast and as far as one that does, regardless of the talent and commitment of the people involved.
When you and your employees have conflicting ideas about how to achieve the same goals and work differently from each other, the results inevitably include misalignment, interruptions, duplicate work, silos, missed due dates, and a lot of wasted time.
So that this does not happen, it is essential to have a well-structured process so that everyone knows what to do, how to do it, and when. It includes:
- Documenting and sharing information so that anyone who needs to be updated can easily access it.
- Communicating without interrupting a co-worker's day.
- Organizing meetings efficiently without wasting anyone's time.
- Distinguishing between 'noise' and important information.
- Storing lessons learned and knowledge in a centralized and accessible place.
- Using the right tools to store and retrieve information.
These are the basics of working together with your team, but it's not very often that they're agreed upon beforehand, so as the team expands, the opportunities and needs to acquire interdepartmental processes multiply, and, therefore, noise and confusion increase.
Successful interdepartmental processes
Having successful interdepartmental processes will help you to have everything clearer and more objective, making the company’s activities work more efficiently and assertively. To achieve this, you must review these activities:
1. Analysis of performance metrics
3. Transfer of information
Why should you worry about interdepartmental processes?
The reasons why process thinking benefits your business are easy to understand. If you organize your business along purely functional lines, isolated "silos" develop. Production is not integrated with sales; accounting does not speak with the purchase area, and so on. Everyone plays their role, but the process is not well organized.
From a customer perspective, dealing with your company becomes tiresome. From your business perspective, you get a situation where one area does not know what the others are doing.
Since different business functions have roles in the processes, and the results of the processes are what matter, managing functional areas as if they were individual entities will not yield the best results. The solution is to break away from functional silos and manage processes instead of areas.
To stay competitive in your industry, it is essential to constantly analyze and improve your business processes. This allows your business to operate as efficiently as possible, minimizing your expenses and maximizing profits.
Information silos are spaces where information is isolated and once it gets to that place, it does not leave it. It is difficult to access and this situation does nothing to improve interdepartmental processes. Information silos generate losses in the communicative flow. Below, we will mention the most common actions that contribute to generating these silos:
- Misuse of collaborative tools or not having them at all.
- Increase in hierarchical levels.
- Areas that work independently and do not share the same objectives.
- Having collaborators who compete for information.
- Lack of an information upload manual where the general process is stipulated.
Improvement of interdepartmental processes
Process improvement is not that easy and this can be for several reasons:
- Not getting the support of managers.
- Failing to gain acceptance from employees.
- Not adopting a culture of continuous improvement.
To ensure that your initiative to improve is successful, you can use any of these process improvement methodologies:
Six Sigma: Six Sigma is one of the most popular process improvement methodologies out there. It is essentially a set of tools and techniques that help your organization improve processes. The main objective of this methodology is to minimize defect rates and variability in business processes.
Lean Manufacturing: Lean Manufacturing is a process improvement methodology that aims to maximize the company's production by eliminating bottlenecks and improving product quality.
Continuous improvement processes allow companies to discover problems and find ways to fix them. Small positive changes made over time can drastically affect the overall process of a company. Here are some ways in which improving your interdepartmental processes can benefit your business:
Increased productivity and profits
By gradually improving processes, your business will start to see a much stronger product. This makes the entire organization more efficient, which ultimately translates into higher profits.
Greater employees’ responsibility
Often your employees may have several ideas on how to improve processes or products. However, a rigid organizational structure can shut them down and kill their motivation.
In a company with a culture of continuous improvement, on the other hand, each employee is key to organizational growth. Allowing them to walk a little further and contribute to progress makes them feel valued, increasing overall morale and responsibility.
A company has to be changing at all times to keep up with the competition. If your employees are used to change regularly, they won't be phased out in times of crisis and change.
Interdepartmental information flow indicators
A company's internal communication is linked to interdepartmental processes and organizational management is directly related to communication management. There are different indicators of the flow of information and communication between the areas that allow us to know how an area is working in our company. A good communication flow in the company is an important factor to take into account when we plan to achieve success in the company.
Indicators allow us to know results that must be taken into account in case it is necessary to improve them. The main ones to keep in mind are:
1. Employee awareness of the company’s mission, goals, and values.
When we talk about the knowledge of the employees about the mission and vision of the company as well as its objectives, it is important to bear in mind that this knowledge will align all the workers regarding how to carry out internal communication. These intangible values that count as company assets are a tool for the company as a whole, and it is very useful for the company that employees also appropriate these values, to incorporate them into their daily activities.
2. Use of relevant media.
Communication, like most of the elements that make up a company, is a process. To carry out communication correctly, the relevant channels must be used since the communication process, avoids the duplication of messages and optimizes the process. It is important to have internal chats between the teams to work orderly; the dissemination of news also helps inform. It is important to take into account that, depending on the information that will be communicated or the messages that need to be sent, different channels can be used, as we mentioned before, emails, chat, or an internal communication system.
Last but not least, we must recognize the participation of everyone involved in the communication process. For this process to be effective, a person is needed to send the message, a channel through which to carry it out, and a person to receive it. The interaction helps to strengthen the sense of belonging and the commitment of human resources to their work. The feedback that occurs in the communication process is important to recognize if this process is working correctly or if it is necessary to adjust any of the points that make it up.
Problems because of not having interdepartmental processes.
Interdepartmental relations generate a better work environment and a better work environment empowers employees and favors their productivity, directly influencing the results of our company. When interdepartmental relationships and processes fail, our company is likely failing in other areas as well.
Many problems in a company or organization are directly related to poor internal communication. When the internal communication of an organization fails, it is likely that the established strategies begin to fail and the common objectives that had been established are lost. This type of problem generates a loss of belonging in employees that directly influences their productivity.
Some situations in which this problem can arise are:
- Deterioration of the work environment.
- Lack of collaboration between teams.
- Lack of commitment from employees.
- The proliferation of rumors or mistrust within the organization.
- Problems of adaptation to work.
All these situations contribute to a bad environment in which to work, and this directly influences the results of the teams and the entire company.
Interdepartmental communication tools
As we have mentioned, internal communication is very important for our company, being the good experience of the employees a great point to take into account. The internal communication system it uses depends on each company, generally, each organization chooses the one that best suits its structure, but to promote the use of those tools, there are different communication means that we can use:
It provides employees with the necessary tools and autonomy so that they know how to carry out their activities.
They are notes that are sent to employees urgently in important situations.
These instances enhance the exchange between work teams. We can encourage them to become interdisciplinary so that all the teams know what is being done in each one.
It is an internal communication system that only the employees of the company can access. Exchange forums, opinion boxes, and chats can be used.
Mobile applications or corporate social networks
This concept is new and very useful since it works like a social network that we are already accustomed to using, except that it belongs to the company and is used for corporate purposes.
Interdepartmental processes are a must to check our company; they are essential to optimize operation and productivity and link all the areas in our company to know what is happening in each one.
Internal communication is one of the fundamental pillars for there to be an exchange between areas and foster interdisciplinary collaboration, which is why we need to have a communication process where each member of our company can participate and feel heard. This will help improve the feeling of belonging of our employees and will indirectly positively affect productivity.