Departmental silos are viewed as problematic for organizations of all sizes. Silos occur when departments within the same company are resistant to sharing information and working together. Ultimately this mindset leads to inefficiencies, reduced productivity, and lowering of morale. In today’s customer-centric, omni-channel environment, departmental silos continue to impede companies’ ability to execute complex, enterprise scale projects.
In my experience as an eCommerce consultant, the root cause of a silo mindset is a top-down issue, arising from a conflicted senior leadership team. However, mid-level executives and managers can take steps to ensure the silo mindset doesn’t negatively impact their projects.
Focusing on a few fundamental best practices can help you overcome project delays, budget overruns or worse, projects not being delivered.
1.) Alignment between the business and IT executives
In a typical organization, business’ role is to identify needed capabilities, and IT’s role is to provide the technology to deliver these capabilities. The initial impediment to alignment is typically who owns the budget, and their subsequent driving of the project as they see fit.
Regardless of who owns the budget, it’s critical that executive sponsors from IT and the business are aligned on what capabilities the project will deliver, when will they be delivered, and what resources will be required from their respective departments.
2.) Common project management methodology
Typically, IT will own and drive project management and software development methodologies. Even more mature companies with a Project Management Office (PMO) will co-locate the PMO within the IT department. While most organizations do have some form of methodology to drive complex, enterprise-scale projects, the methodology hasn’t been fully adopted by the business. This leads to misaligned expectations on what will be delivered, when, and how much it will cost.
Prior to project kickoff, executive sponsors from each department should review and prioritize key deliverables for each phase of the project and share them with all team members during the project kickoff meeting.
3.) Allow your consulting team equal access to both the business and IT
Too often I’ve run into a silo mindset where the department funding the project (and paying the consultants) will limit consultants’ interaction with other departments to the detriment of project success. While I understand the need to have clear lines of communication and direction, it will not come by blocking your consultants from working with your counterparts in other departments.
Rather than constraining interactions, leverage well defined roles/responsibilities to maintain clear lines of communication.
Talk to your team and get a clear understanding of how a silo mindset impacts your projects, and how you can address them. And consider leveraging an experienced consultancy who has witnessed and addressed these organizational challenges on a recurring basis.
Good luck, and don’t let the silo mindset impede the success of your next project!
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