How to Improve Cross-functional Collaboration Between Business and Tech Teams

There is often a systematic communication gap between business and technical teams within a company. Ideally, they should form a dynamic, mutually complementary duo.

The business teams know the wants and needs of the target customer, while the tech teams know how to develop products and features that satisfy these wants and needs. If the cross-functional collaboration between these different organizational units is not good enough, there is a good chance that unnecessary friction will arise, and time and money will be spent on solutions that miss the mark.

This, in turn, leads to lost sales and disappointed customers. Who would want that? By breaking down blockages and barriers, business and tech teams align themselves to deliver more customer value.

Restructuring and Integration of the Tool Landscape

If business and tech teams use different, unconnected tools, it is difficult to achieve effective cross-functional collaboration. It becomes even more complicated when more tools are in use. There is no cross-team visibility of who is working on which project and why it is important for the company. In addition, there are constant context changes because managers have to jump back and forth between non-integrated platforms. All of this leaves uncertainty, duplicated work, and agonizingly slow processes. This has a negative impact on product roadmaps, which can lead to launch delays and dissatisfied customers.

It's no secret that cross-functional teams benefit when they work with an integrated software solution that serves as a "source of truth." A standardized central platform for information gives business and tech teams quick insights into day-to-day business workflows, reduces overlap, and makes it easier to resolve issues before they become a real threat to a launch or campaign.

Teams using Atlassian software can synchronize in real-time and find centralized, cross-team, dynamically updated information in their tools like Confluence and Jira or Jira Work Management at any time. And it's not particularly difficult to remove unnecessary applications and streamline the tool stack by asking teams the following questions:

Where are there overlaps between tools?

  • Which tools serve independent purposes and are necessary for the individual teams to do their work?
  • How much does each tool cost? How do the cost structures compare to similar solutions?
  • Can the tool be integrated into our technical stack?

Downsizing not only leads to better cross-team collaboration but also saves costs. It's a double win for the organization.

Making Key Resources Available

Customer feedback that is not shared widely and product information that ends up buried in a sea of files is not uncommon in disconnected teams. Ultimately, both business and tech teams lose out on opportunities to deliver better products and user experiences.

An example: A new login security update has been made for a product, but users find it confusing. Unfortunately, the business team only has basic information about this new feature. Product questions from irritated customers quickly pile up on social media channels and in customer support. However, the members of the development team are difficult to reach because there is no shared digital platform, and the FAQ document on the technical details of the launch can't be found in the distributed infrastructure either. For the stressed business team, it's truly a nightmare.

What if all the essential information had been shared in advance or at least been more easily accessible? Instead of slipping straight into (foreseeable) problems, the company would have communicated proactively with the users and thus prepared a smooth transition. Without transparency on an internal and external level, frustration arises everywhere. The internal teams first have to break down communication silos before they can even process customer problems in a meaningful way.

Both teams can solve these costly challenges by habitualizing best practices for knowledge sharing and thus create the conditions for efficient communication. These measures include, for example

  • Standardizing the tagging of pages and files to improve findability
  • Building and establishing a centrally available knowledge base
  • Creating checklists of required resources at the start of each project
  • Intensive use of tech features such as smart links in Confluence to share information company-wide

Such measures reduce the risk of critical information slipping through gaps and teams being left hanging in the air due to lack of transparency.

Set and Achieve Common Goals with KPIs and Progress Updates

Shared and, above all, measurable goals help business and tech teams to focus their work directly on results that create customer value. Without such goals, there is a risk of wasting time and resources on initiatives that don't ultimately lead to the right results. To define clear success metrics, business and tech teams need to work together from the outset. Only when a common picture emerges can tasks be strategically prioritized to ensure that all teams achieve their goals together.

But it's not enough to set goals and then forget or ignore them. Teams need to track their progress towards these goals. This continuous monitoring shows teams and departments whether they are on track and proactively signals when a correction to the current approach is necessary.

A simple example: the teams have set their goal to increase customer loyalty by ten percent within three months and systematically make progress towards this goal visible and verifiable. In the past, the teams would have lapsed into hectic, desperate actions to reach their goal after realizing their deadline was fast approaching and they had only reached half their intended goal. With systematic tracking, on the other hand, teams will know much earlier that they will miss their goal if they do not make corrections. Teams are given the opportunity to proactively think about strategic adjustments and implementing new actions that make reaching their goal more likely - for example, a new feature, a new tariff, or a dedicated marketing campaign.

The work management tool Atlas offers a simple way to make targets visible on a central platform, to be able to adjust them easily in case of doubt and to receive real-time updates at any time. In this system, for example, departments can assign individual goals to different team members, with clear status bars and deadlines ensuring transparency.

With the support of such a tool that makes goals and their status generally visible, teams can operate much more easily as a seamless, productive unit.

Structured agendas for effective meetings

It is one of the most frustrating experiences in today's working world: you come out of a meeting and think to yourself: what a waste of time! And in the remote world, where many meetings have to be organized across time zones, it's sometimes even worse. This is why I sat down at the computer late at night? Or: I got up at 6 a.m. for this useless information?

In countless meetings, individuals often improvise aimlessly, while in others, important information is missing or key people are not invited. Useless meetings are one of the most significant time and productivity killers in organizations. Therefore, Every team is advised to reduce meetings to a minimum and prepare necessary meetings well.

A meaningful agenda that is visible to everyone is therefore an important prerequisite for a productive, meaningful meeting. People are aware of the content when the meeting starts and they leave the room with actionable next steps. In this context, experience has shown that Confluence can play a central role as a documentation and social collaboration platform. The agenda templates provided by Trello are also helpful.

Cross-functional Team Collaboration with Atlassian Tools

When it comes to effective teamwork, simplicity is key. The more hoops departments have to jump through to connect with each other, the harder it is to collaborate efficiently and effectively. Atlassian's solutions help business and tech teams create open, cross-team access to information, enabling them to operate on the same page. They provide a flexible, scalable project management and collaboration infrastructure, templates, best practices and features that create good conditions for organization-wide alignment and a smooth flow of knowledge across teams and organizational units.

Further Reading

Spacecraft - The ultimate theming tool for Confluence Spacecraft - The ultimate theming tool for Confluence Spacecraft - The ultimate theming tool for Confluence