How To Leverage Cross-Functional Collaboration Models
Oct 27 2016
Here we are again, discussing cross-functional collaboration, especially the different types of cross-functional collaboration! In the first part of this series I shared how organizations currently approach cross-functional collaboration, why that matters and with how many other functions enablement teams have to collaborate with. Yes, we counted eleven functions!
In the second part, we discussed the latest research regarding the measurable business impact of cross-functional collaboration on driving sales performance: the more formalized the collaboration approach, the better the performance, in particular with regard to quota attainment. Now, let’s look at two of the important collaboration types and how to approach them.
- Collaborating to produce and provide enablement services:
Enablement teams have to collaborate not only with marketing but also with product management, operations, and other functions to provide all the sales content salespeople need throughout the entire customer’s journey. And the situation is similar when it comes to providing various training services. In this case, the collaboration partners are often L&D and HR teams, as well as internal academies. In both cases, a production process (yes, that’s what we need!) should be defined. Often, just four main phases are sufficient to describe the sequence of activities to be able to provide solid enablement services. Such a process should cover at least four phases (for details on each process phase, please click here):
- Define and Map: enablement services are defined regarding purpose, target audience, relevant customer journey phase, etc.
- Create and localize: enablement services are actually produced and localized.
- Publish and provide: Enablement services are published (content) and provided (training).
- Track and measure: learning what works and what doesn’t should be a regular phase of each collaboration process.
In addition, a collaboration model has to support the production process. It defines accountable and responsible roles for each enablement service (content types like playbooks, presentations, or success story and training types like skill training, value messaging training, methodology training or product training), along with the production process. As an example, for a customer reference, marketing could be the accountable role, the account manager the responsible role, and enablement and product management would be consulted or informed.
- Collaborating to ensure integrated platforms and systems
This kind of collaboration is actually the underlying collaboration needed to build a scalable platform for enablement and sales success. Most important collaboration partners here are IT and operations functions. Whatever plans are made in enablement, at the end of the day, the services have to be made available on an IT platform. In an enterprise environment, it’s not done by just buying another app service in the cloud. Instead, even apps have to be considered from an enterprise architecture perspective, based on the organization’s core processes, which is where operations or process management teams come into play. This kind of cross-functional collaboration is slightly different because it’s not about producing a service, but building a platform where those services can be produced and provided in an efficient and effective way.
This kind of collaboration has also to be approached in a thoughtful and conscious way to be successful. Enablement teams that have no cadence and no regular communication with all the relevant functions are often surprised (to say the least) when they need a decision and the other functions are on a totally different page. Also here, a conscious approach to cross-functional collaboration matters. Keeping these functions informed on your enablement strategy allows them to feel part of the decision-making process. Even better, inviting them early on to share their thoughts and ideas helps create more comprehensive approaches (e.g., processes, IT systems) because all aspects can be considered from the beginning. In the end, collaborating in a structured way from the beginning leads to a much more effective decision-making process.
Cross-functional collaboration is all about working with people to achieve better results, ideally in a shorter amount of time. And as there are so many people in different functions with different perspectives and different goals to work with, choosing a conscious approach to collaboration is probably the most essential ingredient. And that means clarifying goals and perspectives, and setting up a process, a collaboration model and a cadence to work on the desired outcomes, step by step.
Questions for you:
How do you measure the success of your cross-functional collaboration approach with different functions such as marketing, sales operations, or L&D?
How do you ensure that cross-functional collaboration remains a priority in your organization? If that’s not the case, use our data to make it a priority.
What’s the relevance of cross-functional collaboration in your organization?
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