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How to facilitate data exchange when working on a cross-departmental project

alexhayes24 profile image alexhayes24 ・5 min read

Working on a project that assumes the full involvement of multiple departments presents many challenges. Firstly, it's just many people, and each should clearly observe his workflow, as well as the progress on the project as a whole. Secondly, this is a matter of control and accounting, since it is necessary to log worked hours correctly and comply with deadlines. Thirdly, it is about communication and management, which are difficult in a situation with a cross-departmental project. Finally, it is necessary to ensure an agile data exchange between departments and teams. How to do this and why is it important? Let's find out.

Exchanging what and why?

A data-driven approach is always a more reliable way to fulfill the potential of a group of people. This rule works for large IT enterprises as well as for other digital and marketing agencies. The exchange of data is necessary in order to fill in the information gaps regarding any processes that require the involvement of several departments and to universalize their work. In order to visualize this process, let's look at an example.

Imagine that in a certain company there are two departments - Sales and Marketing. Both departments are completely autonomous groups of people, and each has its own tool stack and its own unique workflow. This state of affairs continues until it becomes necessary to involve both departments in the work on a single project. The problems that arise can be compared to the problems faced by an enterprise formed from the merge of two smaller companies.

The lack of an agile process for exchanging data between Sales and Marketing turns project control into a headache. Managers cannot give a clear answer on what resources need to be allocated in order to complete the project on time. In addition, there is a widespread situation in which both departments use different tools, ranging from project management platforms to time trackers and reporting tools.

However, in a situation where departments use the same tools, it does not become easier, since all the information that comes in must be synchronized in order to create a single source of truth for all people involved in the work. Improving data exchange is a process that includes a number of actions, but aimed at optimizing the work of two departments as much as possible and simplifying control over a joint project.

In our example with Sales and Marketing, a constant exchange of data is necessary, for example, so that Sales managers always have quick access to information about what stage of the sales funnel the lead is at, how he got to the company, what proposals were discussed with him, and so on. Further, more often than not, marketing gives the lead to the work of Sales and this is where their relationship ends. This is a fundamentally wrong approach, and if you ask sales or marketer why there is no hope in their full collaboration and synchronization, they probably will tell you these four main reasons :

  • Lack of exchange of accurate data regarding client accounts
  • Poor communication between departments
  • Using different metrics to measure the success or failure of any action
  • Problems with a unified reporting system

All these problems lead to a real headache when it is necessary to synchronize the work of two departments on a single project. Facilitating the data exchange process is a comprehensive approach to solving the problems listed above.

Ways to improve the data exchange process

Of course, facilitating data exchange between two departments is, first of all, about how to come to the fact that both departments use a single stack of tools for working on a project, reporting, communication, and so on. However, to get started, there are a few basic things you can do, for example:

First meeting
At this first meeting, it is necessary to ensure that every employee, be it a sales manager or a marketer, understands why they need to simplify and speed up the exchange of data as much as possible. It is necessary to make sure that each specialist will keep this idea in mind when he leaves comments under a task, transfers new data to another department, or leaves a report in the joint reporting system.
Employees should remember that improving data exchange and collaboration between the two departments is a two-way street. If the sales manager wants to receive the most detailed report from the marketer, after which he will not have any questions, then he must act the same in the opposite situation.

Adding visuals and simplification
Everyone knows that our brains are better at absorbing visual information than plain text. Therefore, where possible, it is better to use graphics and visual content. In a situation where the use of text is simply necessary in order to convey any data, you need to continue to strive for the maximum simplification of this text's appearance. Large paragraphs with a lot of information are hard to remember. A check or bullet list with a clear and concise listing of the main points is a much more convenient method.

Tools integration
In the end, it all comes down to universalizing the tools used by the teams. Since we live in the digital era and we are talking about digital enterprise, it is obvious that 95% of data exchange goes through various tools, leaving the last 5% for personal negotiations. In such a situation, the integration of tools becomes a key task to simplify the data exchange process.

We are confident that it is not worth listing the problems that managers and ordinary specialists will have in a situation where both departments use different project management, reporting, and time tracking tools. Integration can be abandoned in favor of switching to new joint tools for both departments. However, such a decision will increase the cost and time required to complete the project, as employees in both departments will have to get used to the new tools and reality.

Therefore, integration remains the most logical and profitable solution, but there are various options here as well. Often, company representatives choose ready-made solutions, some kind of integration platforms that take over all the work of synchronizing some tools, for example, Jira and Salesforce. However, they do not fully understand the company's position and integrate tools according to established schemes. In a situation where a more unique and targeted approach is needed, it is wiser to use the services of custom integration . This is a longer process, but it allows you to end up with such an add-on, application, or tool that integrates all your applications, taking into account all your wishes and the specifics of a certain project.

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