How to Make Your Cross-Team Collaboration Better in 2023 (8 Tips)

Effective project management depends on cross-functional team collaboration. In short, it’s a set of practices and ideas that looks to innovate how team members do their job together. How employees communicate and collaborate.

Since there’s a wide diversity of skill sets in a workspace, many departments tend to work in a “silo”. In other words, they isolate their efforts and work towards very specific goals, ignorant of the larger scope.

This is a project management nightmare. The work could be done professionally on an individual level. However, all bits and pieces must come together in a complete whole. 

If the teams didn’t speak to one another, the final product will turn out to be a convoluted mess. How it all fits together will be unclear, and there will be no one to be held accountable.

Great cross-functional collaboration ensures efficiency by keeping all team members in the loop. They know what they have to do, why they have to do it, and how it’ll affect the final objective. 

If you need help solving dysfunctional teams, start your Alvanda free trial today. You’ll see for yourself how aligning project goals and guaranteeing teamwork becomes easy and approachable.

What is Cross-Team Collaboration?

Cross-team collaboration is what we call a group of people from different departments working together as a team. They understand they have the same goal and that their tasks must fit harmoniously with each other. 

Sales, marketing, HR, IT, development (and others) each have their internal objectives. But, when they come together to achieve a project, all members must be able to go past their function and see the bigger picture.

However, there’s a condition. Unless everyone takes responsibility for their actions and their work etiquette, things can fall apart fast. 

Cross-functional teams must understand that their greater degree of self-governance and collaboration also means acknowledging when they’ve made a mistake. This allows room for process, procedure and communication improvements.

In a nutshell, a cross-functional system aims to:

  • Create an open and continuous flow of communication.
  • Make teamwork and collaboration a core part of the business’s culture.
  • Implement a system of interdepartmental support, where team members help each other achieve their tasks and goals.

Why Use Cross-Team Collaboration?

For a variety of reasons, among which:

Everyone Stays Informed

If a project has failed, there’s a good chance it was because of lack of information. 

When a sales team negotiates a deal or makes certain promises, they should know beforehand if they’re achievable. If a marketing team drafts up a PPC, SEO and social media strategy without understanding all details of the project, it’s meaningless.

Developers who are making a great website strictly from a speed and UX standpoint, but ignore Core Web Vitals, will quickly find out that it’s not going to rank organically. 

These are only a few examples. In the 8 hours of a standard day, everyone’s making decisions and advancing their tasks. 

However, if those tasks aren’t advanced appropriately, or if actions are taken based on missing or incorrect information, teams are not going to get far.

Traditionally, departments kept in touch using email, but that’s not advised at all anymore. It’s very easy to lose crucial data in email chains and long reply threads. 

Additionally, it overloads your brain each morning when you see an overflowing inbox.

Instead, cross-team collaboration looks at instant messaging in group channels, video or audio calls, updates and pings directly on your project management software

This keeps teams working together without making it complicated.

Brainstorming is Faster

Oftentimes in business, you need to generate ideas and plans. The first step is to get lots of ideas going. You can filter what’s actually good later on. 

Cross-functional team collaboration makes this process better by literally putting more heads together. Instead of a designer working a few days on a new platform’s UX & UI, they can cooperate with a web developer and understand what’s possible from the get-go. 

In fact, the developer can also lend their expertise from past projects and propose potential implementations. This then helps the designer work the concept into a functional UI.

Problem-Solving is Better

When an employee faces an issue, they’re bound to try and solve it based on their professional experience. After all, that’s their job, right? Thing is, there could actually be a better and easier way to solve the issue.

But, they won’t have access to such a viewpoint unless they’re actively communicating with other teams or specialists. You could even have a dedicated conversation channel just for asking questions.

8 Strategies to Improve Cross-Team Collaboration

1. Centralize Communication

Having a myriad of direct messages between all company members is a huge no-no. Instant messaging between 2 people should only be for short and to-the-point clarifications, questions or internal updates.

For anything of larger significance, there should be a dedicated communication channel with all relevant internal stakeholders. Do you have an update to give? Just write it on that channel. Allow everyone to stay in the loop. They might have actually been waiting for that update, without you knowing of it.

One of the most significant examples we can give here is for a project manager (PM). The PM knows the scope of the project and what tasks must be done. 

However, if 2 (or more) team members only talk amongst themselves about a better way to do the implementation, or even change something, that’s very problematic. While the idea might be good, it must still be approved before anything else.

That being said, if the PM just didn’t know about it, everything spirals out of control. Before you know it, you have to start asking questions about why X worked on Y and when that was approved?

2. Pick The Right People

You want independent people. They’re self-reliant and will bring value to cross-functional team collaboration. They know how to do their job, and will use cross-team collaboration only if to do it better or to share information. 

Independent people are responsible, reliable, accountable, but also understand the value of teamwork. They’ll actively seek out counsel and support if they think they need it.

Who you don’t want in your cross-functional teams are these 2 categories:

  • Lone wolves
  • Social loafers

A “lone wolf” is a person who could in fact be very capable on their own. However, they’ll completely refuse to work with others for one reason or another. They might even go as far as seeing everyone else as incompetent. 

If you’re aiming to achieve a workspace of teamwork and communication, lone wolves are not going to fit into it. It’s best if you work with them as contractors, for very specific, well-defined and time-limited tasks.

“Social loafers” are people who deliberately avoid their responsibilities. Or, they could try to always do just the bare minimum. Yes, they’re the same people who “supervised” group projects back in school.

Still, be careful before thinking that someone’s social loafing. New team members need to be onboarded and given enough time to adjust to the working styles and processes of your business.

3. Assign Decision-Makers

Cross-functional collaboration can get hectic if no one’s appointed as a de facto leader. A team leader can prevent friction between unacquainted system members. 

Furthermore, the leader will assign tasks, remain accountable and keep the project manager updated.

Aside from delegating though, pick a cross-functional team leader who also knows how to educate their team and lead from the front. They should lead by example and give autonomy, while also staying on top of the work’s progress.

4. Clarify Deadlines

Each employee should understand how their work fits on the grander timeline. That’s even more important if their outputs will be the dependencies of other departments. Delays don’t tend to be stationary. 

Instead, they propagate to other team members too, dragging on everything until deliverables reach the project stakeholders much later than agreed.

That’s why you should consult with your team before creating the project’s roadmap, and inform them of their duties before they start working.

5. Define Important Goals

It’s paramount that internal cross-functional teams approve the project charter. If you don’t guarantee scope clarity and alignment with objectives from your teams, they’ll be demotivated and unwilling to do the tasks. 

What’s more, team members will start defining their own goals instead, ignoring the actually needed results. True cross-functional team collaboration also means making sure everyone’s on the same page.

6. Use Teamwork Tools

You can’t get far with theory and advice alone. Cross-team collaboration depends heavily on having the right tools to work with too. Thankfully, you don’t have to look any further than Alvanda. 

We’ve designed our project management software because we needed such a solution ourselves. Thanks to it, our entire company runs flawlessly with only 50 employees! 

Alvanda empowers teams to take action and gives them the required knowledge to do their tasks right. More job satisfaction and automated workflows, less red tape and headaches. 

Do you want to increase collaboration between your teams too?

7. Encourage Initiative

Cross-functional teams also rely on the determination of their colleagues. If no one’s willing to take action first, the project could stagnate. Many times, better ideas take form as work is being done. 

However, they need to actually be verbalized or written down to be worth anything. At the same time, organic collaborations are not easy to stimulate. People don’t usually want to give themselves more work to do without good reasons.

So, you have 2 options:

  • Share information for upcoming projects ahead of time. You’re bound to have some employees interested in the topic, which means a higher degree of involvement from their part. This also means they might wish to team up for the project.
  • Reward initiative and good ideas. With public messages of appreciation, with days off, with fancy dinners, with monthly bonuses, etc. Give people a reason to go that extra mile.

8. Create a Team Charter

It’s much easier to form a connection with colleagues when you know who they are and what they do.

A team charter is basically a sheet that gives context about who’s who and what their job description is. There could also be a section detailing what they’re working on right now, and what their professional goals are. 

One detail you should definitely include are a few words about each person’s team:

  • What’s the main purpose of that team? What project goals are they looking to achieve? 
  • What is the team looking to achieve for its members?
  • What does the team expect from another team when they’re working together?

Common Cross-Team Collaboration Challenges

All right, we’ve sung the praises of cross-functional teams. But, just like anything else, it has potential downsides too. After all, it’s all about a lot of people working together in tandem towards a common goal.

That’s easier to do on paper than in practice. Thankfully, if you know what downsides to expect ahead of time, you can plan contingencies and solutions.

Different Locations

Nowadays, it’s common for cross-functional teams to be remote. With team members from different countries, it can be difficult to set a meeting time. Additionally, they’ll generally be structured around the availability of higher-ups, since their schedules are more packed.

However, Alvanda can be used on mobile too! Even if you can’t be at your computer/laptop at the time, no worries. To keep it fair and square timezone-wise too, you could also practice rotating the meeting time zones to favor everyone gradually.


For some people, it is very important that they’re accustomed to the ones they’re working with. Because they’re shy, because it’s harder for them to trust someone, because they dislike working with strangers, etc.

Create a few company events like picnics, barbecues, dining out and team buildings to foster friendships between employees.

Personal Priorities

It can be difficult to get everyone focused on the same objective. After all, all team members have their own tasks and deadlines. If someone’s waiting on you, but you really have to do something else first, you can’t jeopardize your own well-being.

This is especially true if employees are judged and evaluated based on their deliverables. How do you solve this? With finesse. Make it officially known that priorities can change and certain tasks can be delayed if emergencies appear. 

If a developer is waiting for copy to make a webpage live today, then your copywriter should understand that they can delay PPC ads copy for a campaign that starts next week.

Optimizing Cross-Functional Teams

Getting your teams in order also depends on placing quality tools at their disposal. Get started with Alvanda today and benefit from:

  • Automated reports.
  • Real-time analytics.
  • Intuitive inline support features.
  • Faster and better onboarding process.
  • Easily accessible company processes and procedures.
  • Identifiable process gaps.
  • Built-in solutions for improved teamwork and morale.
  • A focus on agile teams that need to collaborate and communicate