The right team structure gives an organization the sturdy foundation it needs to achieve the best project results possible. But when it comes to new facility startup initiatives, success depends even more heavily on a strong and productive cross-functional group dynamic.
Whether you’re still planning your next project launch or you’re in the middle of a complex and high-stakes new facility startup effort, take a look at these reasons why an effective cross-functional team is so important, and how to ensure your Project Team has the structure and strategy it needs to achieve success.
One challenge is that there’s a huge variety of departments, business partners, and stakeholders involved in new facility startup projects. While this brings in a broad spectrum of expertise and skills that makes the project team stronger, it can also lead to silos that get in the way of progress. Allegiance to intradepartmental reporting hierarchies are a common problem, often because they conflict with the chain of accountability within the project team. Sharing data across these closed systems can also be difficult, particularly if the groups aren’t accustomed to partnering with other divisions. Working to identify just a few people who will have responsibility for relaying each sub-group’s regular progress reports is one strategy that can help to streamline and improve the flow of information into and out of these disparate functional areas.
When a number of different functional groups are involved in a project, there may not be enough existing communication channels to support the team’s data sharing needs, which further complicates matters. It’s to be expected that some sub-groups may not have had much exposure to each other in the past. But because they must now work together as part of the project team, it’s critical that robust communication flows be established between them to ensure that data sharing occurs as needed to move the project forward. Consider where bottlenecks and other impediments may exist within the project team structure and ensure that each group understands not only its own role in providing information, but also the importance of responding in a timely fashion to requests and inquiries from other functional areas.
One reason there are numerous sub-teams involved in new facility startup projects is because there are so many different areas that must be considered and managed. This inherently translates into the potential for multiple, competing needs across the project’s lifecycle. Challenges arise when one cross-functional area doesn’t agree with another, and gaining clarity becomes key. Is everyone on the same page when it comes to prioritizing work? Do the sub-teams agree on how to address a problem that impacts more than one group? Have commitment levels dropped because of discord or a lack of coordination? Managing expectations, activity workflows, and labor resources can be tremendously difficult if there’s any dissention among the sub-groups. It takes a comprehensive project management methodology and a strong background in coordinating tasks across diverse functional units to keep everyone moving toward the same set of goals.
Getting the most out of any cross-functional team requires expert-level facilitation, coordination, and communication skills. Even when everyone in the group is committed to success, the sheer volume of questions, data points, perspectives, concerns, and proposed solutions can quickly become unwieldy. The insight of an experienced facilitator is crucial in keeping activities on track and ensuring that everything from routine weekly discussions to last-minute problem-solving efforts are productive and timely. A facilitator can help the teams sift through data and resolve disagreements in a way that yields the information and action plans that will keep the project moving toward a successful completion.