6 tips for successful cross-team collaboration
Apr 18, 2023
A marketing campaign reflects on the entire organization, so it’s no wonder why personnel from nearly every department want a say. But rather than soliciting feedback at the end of a project from various teams or sending out ad hoc requests as you go, it’s far more efficient to involve other departments from the get go. This not only helps to ensure that everyone is working toward company-wide goals; it brings a diverse set of perspectives that can also inspire creativity.
By building a cross-functional team by design, employees outside of the marketing department are far more likely to feel a sense of responsibility for your campaign and willingly lend their expertise. In fact, the ADP Research Institute found that employees who “felt like members of a team” were more than twice as likely to be engaged in the workplace.
Moreover, cross-functional teams are a sign of a positive company culture, one that fosters open communication, strengthens working relationships and encourages innovation. On average, people who engage in collaboration and have access to digital collaboration tools are 17% more satisfied with their jobs and workplace culture.
Cross-team collaboration is, no doubt, integral to successful marketing campaigns, but with so many cooks in the kitchen, it’s easier said than done. Here are 6 tips for successful cross-functional collaboration.
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1. Choose your team
Figuring out who to involve in your campaign can take a little extra sleuthing when you have to look outside of your own marketing team, but consider who can offer valuable input across a wide range of departments (and who could be a blocker if not consulted early on).
Clearly, you’ll need creatives like copywriters and designers, but could an engineer act as a subject matter expert? Will tapping into someone on the finance team keep you on budget? Perhaps you need a member or the legal team to ensure your Is are dotted and your Ts are crossed. Media buyers will be invaluable as end users of the assets you create, and don’t count out external agencies who can bring new perspectives and specialized skills.
Should cross-team collaboration falter or things go off the rails, senior executives can help meditate and get marketing projects back on track. In terms of oversight, consider including an executive sponsor, a steering committee or other leadership involvement.
2. Define roles
Don’t let egos get in the way of creative project management. When everyone understands their roles, you can eliminate the power struggle. Consider using a DACI framework, which stands for Driver, Approver, Contributor, and Informed. Essentially, that means there are people responsible for managing the project, for signing off on various phases, and for creating assets, as well as those who simply need to be kept in the know.
Roles will likely cross department lines on a cross-functional team, but it could make sense for an agency or your marketing team to drive the project, for executives on various teams to act as approvers, and for creatives to design the majority of assets. And don’t forget to keep other departments, like brand, sales, and legal, informed. Whatever way you slice it, making roles crystal clear will help streamline processes while cutting down on messy politics.
3. Align on project scope
Everyone has their own idea of what’s doable. While a CEO may want ALL THE THINGS, marketers might have a better handle on what’s realistic for their team to get done in a given time frame. Then, of course, there’s the finance folks, who just want to keep everything on budget.
Creating a crisp and focused brief will help cross-functional teams clearly define the scope of a marketing project. Bring all participants together to decide on the format of assets, the number of assets, and – of course – budget. And don’t forget about objectives and target audience! Your goal is to concisely answer the age old questions: Who, What, Where, When and Why. Alignment around a brief before a project even kicks off will save you a boatload of headaches down the road.
4. Get acquainted
With all your ducks in a row, now is the time for your teammates to get to know one another. Hold a team-building kickoff meeting where you can learn about your colleagues’ preferred ways of working, their pet peeves, and any out-of-office days or time zone implications that will impact processes. Align on workflows, comms plan, and common lingo, and be sure to write everything down in a team charter or project doc that anyone can refer back to later.
This meeting could also serve as an opportunity for a pre-mortem. Figure out what “worst case” looks like for each team member and how they’ll react should things go south. Then come up with a plan to fix it. As the saying goes (more or less), hope for the best, and prepare for total and utter chaos.
5. Get on the same (digital) page
Communication is key throughout the process. The right project management tool can be a serious time saver, keeping your team on track and giving you a single, transparent place to communicate without all the back and forth of email or chat. It’s no secret that we like StreamWork for marketing projects since it’s the first tool purpose-built for project managing creative assets. Set up your agreed-upon deliverables, timelines and workflows, and then watch the cross-team collaboration happen.
StreamWork lets team members from any department and outside agency access campaigns, delegate tasks, and check off their to-dos in one place. Plus, real-time collaboration means colleagues can leave feedback directly on videos, PDFs, and other assets before routing them through stakeholder approval. Work, revisions, and approvals all stay in StreamWork to give everyone the visibility they need and keep things moving forward.
6. Reflect back on your work
Thanks to successful cross-team collaboration, you’ve uploaded your deliverables, garnered automated approvals, and made the media buys. The hard work may be over, but your marketing project isn’t fully complete. Reflecting back on your work is nearly as important as the work itself.
Hold a post-mortem to celebrate wins, identify mistakes and write down lessons learned. We love the traffic light framework for this – as a team, collectively outline everything that the team should start (green light), stop (red light) and continue (yellow light) in your future campaigns.
With the experience you’ve gained and processes you’ve set up this time around, your cross-functional team should be in for a quick start and even smoother sailing when the next campaign rolls around. Ready to get your team working together on the same page? Sign up to try StreamWork.
Meredith is the Founder and CEO of StreamWork, a productivity platform built for teams who work on creative. Meredith has 12+ years experience working as a marketer at Warner Bro., Apple, Google and YouTube and has worked on hundreds of videos and creative assets with teams large and small. Her mission is to simplify the way teams work on creative.