When talking about transversal processes, the question arises as to whether it is a type of process or some methodology. Well, let's make it clear that they are those processes that go through different areas of a company, and therefore, observing them in this way allows us to eliminate (or try to eliminate) the scheme of activities in silos, managing to cover the entire structure of the company and we can make use of technology to automate and reduce efforts.
Organizational silos are by far the most widespread management structure, although all management textbooks warn against them explaining how bad this type of structure is. This is true for all types of organizations, whether they are companies, public bodies, non-profit organizations, etc.
Information technologies are often presented as a powerful catalyst for such a mode of cross-sector collaboration within companies or even between different companies (this is particularly true for complex projects). However, for the vast majority of organizations, silo management remains the default form of management.
As we have told you in other articles, organizations that have siled management are those that are characterized by having managers who dedicate a significant amount of energy to the accumulation of knowledge, minimize staff mobility and avoid pooling resources between departments or business units. The emphasis is on appropriate internal resources, particularly skills and knowledge, and then jealously guarding them. The main risk with this approach, aside from waste (constantly reinventing the wheel, reversing multiple times to achieve the same result), is focusing the organization's energy inward rather than outward, at the expense of better understanding the competition and market trends.
The real question is: how can we get away from this type of organization?
There is no magic solution, but there are concrete initiatives that can be taken to move in the right direction. The priority for action is to work on changing the mental models of employees, starting at the top of the company.
It is often useful to run an audit to bring dysfunctional issues to light and make them moot. The involvement of an outside facilitator can be invaluable in this process. Executives and managers often accuse their colleagues of perpetuating silos, not realizing that they, too, are contributing to this situation. They need to become aware of their behavior to implement a genuine change process.
Then you need to cascade this awareness process throughout the company, with training that focuses on overcoming organizational silos and promoting cross-management. The further down the company hierarchy you go, the lower the resistance to change. Collaborators who are not in management positions are often eager to share knowledge and work cross-functionally!
The creation of transversal project teams can help you open gaps, eroding the barriers between the different structures. These should be made up of collaborators from different departments and entities, focusing on topics of general interest such as "how to strengthen innovation", "how to increase responsiveness" or "how to focus more on the client".
Cross-management training programs are often required for the teams involved. Methodology sessions can be usefully supported by "action learning projects", which serve as laboratories for cross-experimentation (and learning). But it is important not to lose sight of the real goal: this should not be a one-time initiative, as the goal is to change the way the organization works as a whole. The challenge is making the transition from managing a specific project to adopting a project-based management style.
Of course, not everything is written about transversal processes, and how to identify them, or how to improve them, since each industry and company have different behaviors, but we can say that there are 5 key aspects that you must keep in mind to break the structure of current processes :
- Consider the commercial process, not the process of an area: It is important to make business processes and as such, that the processes of an area or department are segregated into tasks or sub-processes of that transversal process. That is, identify the overall business goal first, and then determine the tasks and roles that are associated with this goal. This way you will have identified the business process, regardless of the areas or departments involved.
- Determine the beginning and the end: Beyond creating a business process from scratch, it is important to see the current status, that is, to design or create a solution that improves and enhances this process, you must observe and evaluate the current processes. It is crucial that you do not just stick with what your collaborators tell you, but that you establish the scope of these processes so that you can clarify the flow of tasks that are associated. The key to achieving this is based on a good process survey.
- Look for roles and people aligned with business processes: In addition to products and technology being geared toward the needs of a user, the roles that impact a business process must meet the demands of that process for it to serve its purpose to compete in a market.
- Identify process leaders, not bosses: Look for those collaborators who seem to know the entire business as if it were their own family, these people are potential leaders with a comprehensive vision of business performance, they know the risks and provide solutions to mitigate them.
- Make a prototype of your design: We know that it is not a piece of furniture or a model, but the tasks must be analyzed and observed so that all interested (and involved) parties understand them, the important thing is that a point of view is not imposed so you can take suggestions that improve the performance of the process; however, these must be detailed in a prototype where people can visualize their role through the process. For that, it is important to be able to diagram the processes. "But the processes in this company are dynamic and constantly changing." - Actually, most likely not, and if it happens, there is a risk of losing productivity.
There may be variations in some processes, but at a macro level there is an established process: The company takes an input of resources, processes them, and generates an output (result). This is the macro-process. It is important to know it and begin to break down the subprocesses that make it possible; here, it will be very clear to you what we are talking about when we talk about transversal processes that involve the different departments of your company. Make sure that these processes, the information flow, and resources are fluid, dynamic, and optimal.
Do you know of any other key factors to consider when designing a transversal process?