5 cross-team collaboration blind spots can hold publishers back

By Sibel Ugur


London, United Kingdom


Commercial and technical team collaboration is becoming increasingly important with the fast-paced technology boom. More technology and data analysis means greater demand for cross-team collaboration. However, with 86% of executives identifying ineffective collaboration and communication as a major cause of failure in their businesses, it’s clear there’s still a way to go before we reach desired team efficiencies.

When teams aren’t aligned, simple new initiatives can be delayed, taking months to implement and slowing down the growth of the company. Take The New York Times for example: It famously spent 14 months building its paywall in-house more than 10 years ago. This is time many digital publishers today simply don’t have.

Good collaboration requires having the right teams communicating together from early in the process.
Good collaboration requires having the right teams communicating together from early in the process.

But the biggest concern with a lack of collaboration lies in a publisher’s ability to keep up with rapidly changing user needs. If internal processes aren’t conducive to identifying opportunities in a fast-paced market, it is challenging to outperform competitors, and key opportunities may be missed.

Drawing from a range of industry experts and examples, there are five key blind spots and obstacles publishers face when trying to streamline cross-team collaboration:

  1. Lack of accountability.
  2. Lack of common vocabulary.
  3. Opportunities left on the table.
  4. Inconsistent decision-making.
  5. Conflicting expectations.

In general, good collaboration often boils down to having the right teams involved early in the process and communicating objectives effectively. “Commercially minded buyers may be well attuned to the value they see in a new solution, but it is very easy for them to overlook the true cost of implementation,” said Chris Scott, chief product officer at Zephr. “Often the integration team needs to deal with an extensive list of ‘details,’ like security implications and performance ramifications, not to mention the actual development of any necessary integration.

“In general, communication between the commercial buyer, the users, and the implementation team will be more amicable and productive if all parties are brought to the table early and feel like they contributed to the procurement process,” he said. “In this stage, if the company has a strong culture and well-aligned teams, common ground should be relatively easy to find.”

Ultimately, finding balance and fostering healthy collaboration takes dedication and intent. Digital publishers that take a proactive and thoughtful approach to collaboration by enabling partnerships between commercial and technical teams are likely to create better solutions and hit their goals faster.

One study of more than 1,000 companies showed that teams across functions that collaborate well perform as much as five times better than those that don’t.

When teams have opportunities to learn from end users and grasp the whole picture early, it leads to better solutions from the start and more efficient, invested teams. While it may be an added step to invite individuals off their “islands” to gather data and collaborate on solutions, requirements, and scope, the long-term investment will lead to better subscription products, higher team morale, and more satisfied customers overall.

“Make sure the marketing department becomes more tech-savvy, and the IT department better understands marketing,” wrote Glen Hartman, global managing director of Accenture Interactive, in an article for the Harvard Business Review. “Coming together around the consumer and customers will help to break down internal silos and align agendas. Upgrading their skills will help both departments make better decisions about technology and understand its impact on business outcomes.”

About Sibel Ugur

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