Functional management in companies has a vertical organizational structure. This results in functional areas that respond to a specific hierarchy. In functional management, each area works and generates a result separately. As a result of this, these areas begin to cause information silos, because they are very self-absorbed in their operations.
In other words, there is no connection between the areas to verify what marketing attracts, what sales sell, and what operations deliver to the customer. The problem is that there are companies that maintain this structure despite warning that the information is lost and that at certain times this reality can work against them when checking the results.
The explanation refers to the lack of communication between the areas due to a monopoly of information, the individual work of each team without the intervention of other areas, and the perpetuation of a hierarchical order as the legal basis for the operation of a company.
When organizations change their functional organizational structure to process management, they will be able to verify that these processes eliminate information silos because their horizontal structure seeks to generate greater departmental participation, through processes that can cover two or more areas, such as macro processes.
The goal of this article is to explore why processes eliminate information silos and what steps you should take to prevent them from happening again.
Migrate from functional management to process management
If information silos persist over time, it is because the company maintains functional management, which makes it difficult to interrelate with teams from other areas. To this must be added the lack of visibility of the internal activities carried out by the employees, as well as the commercial relations with the customers. When the organizational structure is essentially vertical, all the communication problems that generate silos begin to be identified.
Then, small interdepartmental brotherhoods are established where their members have appropriate roles, information, responsibilities, and tasks as if it were a confidentiality agreement. In this way, the marketing area works independently of the commercial area and this repeats the scheme with the operations area.
Consequently, they behave like 3 micro-companies that compete with each other for decision-making and there are frictions in communication, resulting in the insufficient and uncooperative performance of the staff, which will further increase the crack in human relations.
Now, when the management is by processes, the structure is presented horizontally, where marketing represents the entry of the sales process, and sales represent the entry process of operations.
As each area is coordinated and marketing knows what the sales area needs and sales knows what operations needs, information silos between areas are gradually eliminated. This happens because we talk about processes with input and outputs, and the areas participate in the middle, they are more connected and people realize that it is necessary to change and improve to achieve the objectives.
In this way, silos in process management are reduced. From the moment that the organization can be perceived horizontally, the areas gradually stop being ensiled, because they need to work together.
Being a horizontal structure, the areas are connected and none acquires more power over the other, which allows them greater freedom to work but also gives them the possibility of requiring help from outside the area to complete a task or obtain a different focus about an idea or problem.
This highlights the incompatibilities between areas that can be resolved when those involved meet to find solutions and generate more aligned results. If there is the discovery of errors and inconsistencies, they can be corrected. This is the main advantage that process management provides: macro-level visibility.
An effective process alternative to eliminate information silos
Within process management, there is a category that helps create a closer link between the different areas, ensuring that both the communication and the activities of each one are connected and visible to the entire company. This is what we know as transversal processes.
Transversal processes cross various areas of a company, so they could be considered an effective tool against information silos, due to the amount of data, processes, tasks, technologies, and people that it includes. In this sense, transversal processes break the flow of activities in silos, encompassing the entire business, using technology as a means of automation, which translates into cost and effort reduction.
Process management provides an arsenal of very effective tools to improve work efficiency in companies, allowing areas to work together at the same level and not subject to a specific hierarchy. This is what differentiates a horizontal organizational structure from a vertical one.
By having several levels of hierarchies and areas that work independently, there is a natural predisposition to the appearance of silos. Transversal processes prevent areas from becoming isolated by favoring the inclusion of people in the same process and including indicators of the status and progress of such processes, which will allow departmental leaders to make improvement decisions according to the needs revealed by those records.
In general terms, processes eliminate information silos because they connect all areas of an organization through activities, resources, information, technologies, and people, breaking with the traditional organizational structure that precisely perpetuates the presence of silos.