Tackling Clear Communication Between Departments

How to make sure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing and vice-versa

Tackling Clear Communication

How do you make sure that instructions are clear for each department and that each worker knows what to do and how to do it? And beyond that, what processes has your company put into place to ensure consistency and great quality? Clear directives and interdepartmental communication are necessary measures. They ensure that each member of the company is able to work together without having to repeat work because of poor file storage or information.

Clear communication is crucial, and without it, companies waste an immense amount of money. According to the Project Management Institute, for every $1B spent, $135 million are at risk. 56% of corporate funds spent are on ineffective communication ($75M). That means that 56% of time, energy, and respect are wasted, translating into highly inefficient projects, products, and companies.

So what is there to do about it? Here are the communication landmines you’ll want to fix or avoid as much as possible.


Issue 1: The Pain Points: Documentation, File Storage & Sharing

It’s important to have documentation of what has been done each step of the way and be able to steer others towards it with ease. While some people consider this part to be obnoxious busywork, we like to think of it as ensuring a seamlessness workflow. There are many reasons why companies require documentation: to maintain continuity between teams and departments, to avoid duplicate work, and as a record for others.

With file storage and sharing, security and accessibility are often at odds with one another. On the one hand, not all documents should be accessible to all levels, departments, and personnel. On the other hand, access to up-to-date-information becomes a serious problem when files on local servers are unavailable to key departments.

Another important aspect to file storage is being able to share important documents with co-workers. In Redbooth, for example, all project members have access to attached files. Managers can invite and set permissions for project members and know that those members can easily access shared files. Any platform you choose should have a good balance of security and accessibility.


Step 2: Processes

What is the protocol for communication between departments? Are there certain solutions preferred by employees and everyone has access to everything? Or is it possible that there are specific tools that are especially suited to a particular job?

For example, an email may only be required for certain actions (memos and other short, direct communications), whereas a project and/or task management software should be the communication avenue of choice for other action items (ex. TPS report due Friday). Meanwhile, internal business chat  can be used to clarify quick questions, ping colleagues to remind them of something or enable working on documents in tandem.

Does your company have set communications processes? If not, this could be why departments are all struggling to work together! PMI states that “effective communications leads to more successful projects, allowing organizations to become high performers (completing an average of 80 percent of projects on time, on budget and meeting original goals). These organizations risk 14 times fewer dollars than their low-performing counterparts.”


Step 3: Identifying Requirements and Risks

Identifying the requirements for communications between employees and departments also means figuring out the risks involved. There are always risks  when implementing new software and processes, and one of the greatest difficulties is determining whether the requirements outweigh the benefits

Part of determining the requirements for employee communication is to research current uses and to measure the frequency purposes, and methods of communication. These determine where current processes can remain the same and which ones are causing  problems. It’s also necessary to determine if the plan is scalable as the company grows.


Step 4: Rolling out the Plan

When first implementing a communication plan, it’s very  common to be met with skepticism and resistance. Colleagues and sometimes management will often find it difficult to learn and adopt new habits. It’s imperative to give your team  the support and encouragement they need to keep it up. As Richard Millington, founder of community consultancy Feverbee notes, “During this stage you might be true to your vision. You must not compromise. You must remain enthusiastic and keep pushing. You must work with the rare believers in your vision, not those against it.” A well-thought out communication plan will be able to withstand most criticism, grow with individual needs, and eventually be adopted with enthusiasm.


Step 5: Chatter Away

It may always be a bit of a struggle to keep communication channels strong and clear. With a bit of planning and direction, most problems will be ironed out by communicating frequently and within the right channels!


Are You Tackling Clear Communication Between Departments?

When did interdepartmental communication really fail you and how did you move forward from it?