Move fast and break silos-how to rapidly unite IT teams

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Move fast and break silos-how to rapidly unite IT teams

Despite all the advances in workplace technology in recent years, communication and information silos remain a common challenge for IT leaders. With work becoming more complex and environments more transparent, IT teams need to be able to break these down, and start moving faster.

Here’s why: silos occur when individuals, tools and teams are isolated. This leads to an inability to share information, and subsequently, collaboration stutters out. IT teams make mistakes because they lack the full picture, duplicate work due to poor communication or spend too much time trying to connect the dots between departments or organisations.

That being said, silos are a natural by-product of focus - so teams don’t need to beat themselves up if they find they have them. What’s important is to tackle them, and ensure that information and knowledge can move freely. Here are three approaches IT leaders can take to do just that, and better unite teams, tools and information so they can work more effectively.

  1. Break out of inboxes to unite IT with internal teams

Silos stem from how an organisation structures its knowledge. When individuals are only focused on their own inbox, or every team is using different spreadsheets to keep on top of work, it's easy for barriers to form and for collaboration to slow down.

And while IT teams are often strong internal collaborators, they’re limited by siloed functions and workstreams in other departments when it comes to cross-functional collaboration. That might be because the legal team is using an outdated manual process to review new SaaS contracts, or they’re unable to easily collaborate with leadership on the organisation’s technology strategy because those C-suite leaders are only communicating between themselves via email. 

Breaking silos starts by shifting communication away from inboxes and static documents towards a collaborative productivity platform centred around channels. These channels can be designated for various projects, teams or subjects - and include all relevant individuals.

The fundamental contrast between channels and inboxes is that everyone within a channel can access the shared information. Additionally, channels contain all the history of every conversation that’s taken place, and are equipped with advanced search tools. This makes it simple both for IT teams to freely discover historical solutions that might have been shared and for non-tech specialists to ‘self-serve’ solutions - by finding knowledge that’s already been shared across the organisation

Meanwhile, with collaboration based around channels, it’s simple for IT departments to quickly connect with other teams, for example, to support a new app rollout or to fix a recurring IT challenge.

  1. Connect technology to reduce app switching and accelerate IT solutions

While breaking down silos between people is one part of the puzzle, to work more efficiently, IT teams also need to unite an organisation's tools. That’s because failing to do so creates more silos of information and swapping back and forth between different apps is a drain on resources. Whether it's a developer in the middle of coding, or a consultant dealing with an employee’s ticket, everytime a tech specialist has to swap tools, they break their flow.

This is something the technology team at Holland & Barrett realised. They saw that without integrations, the team’s incident response would be sluggish. People would have to wait for a manual alert from somebody who had noticed an issue by checking specific tools, then get the details to the right person and agree on a response.

However, by integrating tools like PagerDuty into their productivity platform, they automatically receive updates straight into their channel, without having to swap platforms. And because those same channels are where the team is already collaborating, they can easily agree on next steps and take action. On the rare occasion of an issue, having an integrated approach, rather than siloed tools, means Holland & Barrett’s IT team can accelerate their solutions.

  1. Drive more impactful collaboration between IT and external partners

Although breaking down internal barriers and connecting tools is vital, for IT teams, high-value work doesn’t start and end within their own organisation and tool stack. Given they’re tasked with administering and delivering on an entire technology strategy, IT leaders will be all too familiar with the need to collaborate with external partners - from customers, to SaaS vendors and cybersecurity consultants.

It’s easy to assume that when collaborating with an external business there’s no way around silos forming. However, with a central productivity platform like Slack, IT teams can break down silos not just between internal teams and their technology, but external partners, too. That’s because today’s leading productivity platforms allow you to bring any stakeholder into one shared workspace.

By doing so, important customers, partners and more can work together with IT specialists rapidly, without having to revert to outdated and cut-off modes of collaboration like email that can lead to missed context and sluggish work.

Moving to a silo-free future

IT teams today need to be able to both share knowledge internally, and collaborate rapidly with partners in other departments - or even other organisations. At the same time, they have to access insights from a variety of different tools, like monitoring systems or helpdesks. It’s easy, however, for silos to form around these different focus areas of work.

Yet by using a productivity platform to deconstruct those barriers between departments, tools, and companies, IT leaders can make knowledge accessible across the organisation, accelerate work and easily execute initiatives with vital external partners. The result is a business that’s not blocking information from where it needs to go, but setting it free to drive the IT team, and the entire organisation, forward.