Amazing innovations are often the result of gathering a team with a diversity of talent and knowledge to tackle a problem that otherwise would remain unsolvable. For example, the James Webb Space Telescope program brought together over 1,200 contributors from over 300 organizations to design, build, launch and operate a one of a kind innovation.
For small and large businesses, creating and introducing innovations into the marketplace requires different skillsets. Identifying the right talent across multiple departments and teams is just the beginning. Once you have the people, how do you bridge silos of available but disconnected knowledge and know-how found across the organization? In this post, we will examine the challenges of bringing together a team from different corners of the organization – and how a unified collaboration platform plays a key role in successful multi-disciplinary teams.
Challenges of Cross-functional Teams
Cross-functional teams offer a flexible way of organizing people with different expertise to work toward a common goal. To alleviate challenges created by contributors’ differences in knowledge, geographic location and even goals requires collaborative tools and apps. Let’s look as some of the challenges and needs:
- Dispersed teams. Do collaboration tools enable frequent interactions among teammates regardless of their location? Can staff work from home, a hotel room or a remote office? At any time, can anyone follow the project’s progress using his or her smartphone?
- Communication vs. collaboration. Do collaboration tools merely ease communication between individuals? Or do they accelerate sharing knowledge and know-how across the team by supporting one version of the truth – i.e. common models and methodologies? Do they provide standardized methods to analyze problems, guide discussions and track actions?
- Different types of interactions. Do your collaboration tools offer options adapted to different contexts and situations – from highly structured certification processes to ideation in small groups to live chat between two colleagues?
- Transparency and accountability. Are your collaboration tools able to translate teamwork into action – i.e. defining and formalizing a project plan with key milestones? Can team members find everything they need on all aspects of the project to fully understand the contribution expected from them? Can you align all collaborators around well-defined tasks and deliverables tracked over time?
- Learning curve and productivity. Are the apps intuitive and consumer-grade to minimize ramp-up time and make new team members productive as soon as possible? Can the technology scale quickly to add scores of new collaborators at different phases of the project without lengthy procurement and deployment effort?
Advantages of Collaboration Platforms
In “How to avoid collaborative overload,” the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that high-performance organizations are 1.5 times more likely to adopt technology platforms that connect workers and allow for better collaboration. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform does just that: provide a range of collaborative capabilities in a single, unified environment that connects people, ideas, data and solutions. This creates a significant advantage over multiple point solutions and apps that require integration of processes and data and have a different look and feel – factors that hamper deployment and productivity. Let’s explore the advantages of a unified collaboration platform in context of the challenges described earlier.
- Working together when dispersed. When individuals, teams and departments are connected, everyone works more efficiently and productively because stakeholders can easily access, edit and review content in real time. This reduces delays and makes errors from duplicated information a thing of the past. It also facilitates hiring or retaining the best expertise as contributors’ location is no longer an obstacle.
- Supporting collaboration throughout the entire innovation process. As the team progresses through different innovation stages, members should not have to go back and forth between different systems or, worse, migrate to a new system requiring rework that is prone to human error. A unified collaboration platform provides everyone secure access to a single source of truth where everything is stored and organized: 3D models, dashboards, simulations, market research, financial projections and more. Non-technical staff can also view models, explore designs and view technical and business data using any browser-enabled device, eliminating the need for powerful workstations.
- Capturing all interactions in context. To ensure fluid collaboration, interactions are captured and tracked in a unified environment that is always connected to the processes, the content, the data and the involved parties. This allows team members to stay focused on their expected contribution and eliminate time spent piecing together the full project picture from information stored and locked in separate tools – chat, email, file servers, etc.
- Promoting transparency and accountability. The collaboration platform reflects the latest information available through built-in mechanisms that facilitate the discovery and broadcast of knowledge and know-how across the entire team. This helps any stakeholder to quickly extract the context in which interactions occurred, follow the decision-making logic, and establish common understanding to contribute toward the set goals.
- Flattening the learning curve. Innovation is hard! To be successful, organizations must take full advantage of the skillsets and wealth of knowledge that resides within the organization. A collaboration platform acts as a focal point for anyone across the enterprise interested in a particular topic and functions as a living repository that makes it easy to leverage and apply learnings across time and teams. And with unified user experience bringing web-style simplicity, collaboration is more fluid further improving team productivity, especially for new contributors.
Working in a single collaborative environment like the 3DEXPERIENCE platform fuels inclusive collaboration. Every team member, regardless of role or location, can exchange ideas and plans using a common language and methodologies, define and track tasks and deliverables to meet key milestones while ensuring complete transparency and traceability.
Read the post How Inclusive Collaboration Supports Continuous Innovation, which examines how the 3DEXPERIENCE platform securely connects individuals from different functional teams across the enterprise as well as external collaborators across the value network to transforming ideas into innovative products, services and experiences.