“We need you to deliver more, in less time and with a smaller budget… oh and without sacrificing on quality.” Sound like a familiar request?
Companies everywhere are facing increasingly challenging requirements and are finding that traditional team structures just aren’t giving them the efficiency they need. We all want a highly productive team, working within a highly efficient process and at LevelUp, we believe the key to achieving this, is cross-functionality.
It’s widely acknowledged that project success comes from having all the right skills, available within a dedicated team. But imagine the potential benefits, if each person was skilled in multiple areas…
The bigger picture
Often core competencies or even members of the same team are physically separated, making communication and smooth end-to-end delivery difficult at best. There is a lack of awareness around each other’s roles and as a result, projects become disjointed.
Perhaps you’ve improved on this set-up, by combining individuals with different skills into one, co-located team? That’s a great start but we’d suggest taking things a step further. Even with a co-located team, you may find that your overall productivity is limited. Cross-functionality, will help you break through this barrier. Individuals who possess multiple skillsets have an appreciation for the bigger picture, because they understand the work their colleagues are doing. The result is a more joined-up, collaborative approach and a happier working environment.
More than just the sum of its parts, a cross-functional team is essentially a self-sufficient unit. It’s project management, analysis, design, development, testing and delivery, all in one neat package. This can be especially important if your company experiences bottlenecks of work. In these situations, traditional segregated teams are often forced to manipulate projects around a fixed set of skills. Time is wasted waiting for ‘those in demand’ to become available, or worse, they get pulled in multiple directions. This resource contention leads to stress, a lack of focus and ultimately a poorer quality of work. The breadth of knowledge in a cross-functional team, allows you to choose an approach based on the needs of the project, not the people. Bottlenecks are avoided because more than one person can cover each role. Responsibility is distributed more evenly within the team and the overall workflow is smoother and more productive.
Another advantage of working in this way, is that your team becomes more resilient. As project requirements inevitably change, the team can adapt and respond as a unit, rather than becoming derailed. Additionally, there are no single-man dependencies, meaning someone is always ready to step in, in the event of unexpected absence or a change in priorities. The result is higher efficiency, fewer delays and a quicker time to market. Best of all, the quality of work remains high, making the business happier and ultimately fuelling the growth of your company.
Higher team morale
The benefits of a cross-functional team aren’t just in the end result, they’re also in the process. Taking the time to train each person demonstrates an investment, showing them that they are valued.
Encouraging personal-development is also widely recognised as a motivation booster, meaning your team will benefit from the learning process itself. By allowing people to stretch themselves, you’ll create the space for a new level of job satisfaction. Ultimately, knowing that their expertise is being cultivated will increase morale across your whole team.
Moving away from a traditional process can be daunting, but we believe it’s well worth the effort. As a result of using cross-functionality at LevelUp, our people are happier, our projects run more smoothly and we can offer our clients a quicker time to market.
As Henry Ford famously put it, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”. So give some thought to the points above and consider whether your team structure is preventing you from reaching your full potential.
Perhaps it’s time to shake things up, take action and ask yourself: is your team cross-functional enough?