Silos are a challenge for most organisations, with a silo mentality or infrastructure one of the biggest barriers to business success. Where different offices or departments don’t share information with others in the same company, both efficiency and productivity are diminished.
In response, management teams must do more to educate and equip their teams with everything needed to break them down. And, to do this, two things must happen.
A change in attitude
Silos occur when individuals, teams, offices or departments are unwilling to share resources or ideas with the larger organisation. These factions fail to see how cooperation can help them to work smarter and are often reluctant to share data or ideas for fear of negative scrutiny or consequences.
Quite often this culture is passed down from the top, with a lack of inter-departmental meetings, training sessions or information-sharing strategies. But, this attitude can cause damage to the organisation as a whole by wasting resources, stifling productivity and hampering the realisation of goals.
Naturally, different groups within a business often have different priorities. But regular meetings between teams (or at the very least team leaders) is a must if you want to create an open and collaborative culture. Not least because, by ensuring managers know what other departments are working on, opportunities for collaboration and business improvements will develop.
Breaking down silos also helps to stop the build-up of resentment, blame and frustration. Because once everyone knows what everyone else is doing, it is easier to identify solutions that will work.
To help to boost collaboration across your company, you should look to:
- Establish a united vision and set of goals at the heart of your organisation
- Make sure your leadership team is on board with this vision and goals
- Ensure your leadership team understands the damage that can be caused by silos, and the opportunities that exist when they are removed
- Ensure managers communicate these messages and approach to the wider business
- Implement training to help create and support a collaborative culture
- Incentivise managers and individuals who succeed in breaking down barriers
- Establish KPIs to help measure the success of your efforts (and to identify where more work is needed)
- Establish working practices and spaces that foster collaboration rather than hinder it
- Encourage constructive feedback.
A change in technology
Of course, merely being aware of the need for greater collaboration across a business isn’t enough. You also have to put the tools in place to enable this to happen.
In most cases, IT silos (where systems are unable to communicate resulting in an environment of disparate technology and practices) are not deliberate. They have simply evolved. For example, the customer support department within an organisation chose to invest in a specific system, while the sales department opted for another. Because each team had their own priorities, responsibilities and vision, neither thought about whether having two standalone systems would cause issues further down the line.
But as long as different departments continue to use separate databanks, without sharing this info (or even being aware of what the other is doing), the benefits of modern tech will never be fully exploited. So, not tackling historical silos is no longer an option. In 2019, you can’t have your call centre telling people one thing, while your marketing department is sharing opposing information.
Capable of creating a single, integrated infrastructure, the latest cloud-based software encourages the simplification and standardisation of business processes, while helping people across your organisation to work collaboratively with one another.
Even better, real-time collaboration is possible. So, when an employee in one place makes a change, that information is immediately available to others, regardless of where they are.
For example, with everything available via the cloud, mobile employees can fill in electronic forms using smartphones or tablets, and this information automatically and immediately syncs with your back office systems. Indeed, SaaS applications are capable of performing a vast range of business tasks, while opening up unprecedented opportunities for enhanced collaboration.
Historically, if an organisation wanted to make a significant change to their IT, this would be a costly task. But cloud computing breaks this trend by providing access to enterprise-level software at an affordable price. And, because moving to the cloud tends to be a business decision rather than one made by IT departments in isolation, cloud-based field service software is a silo-busting investment from the off.