How to Break Down Functional Thinking Within Your Organization

We’ve all been in situations where a division or functional group

within an organization points fingers at other divisions when a process

failure occurs. Or part of a team that had little idea of how their

function fits into other functions within the organization. This

article discusses an issue that affects almost every organization, and

that’s breaking down functional or departmentalized thinking and

creating streams of information that flow across multiple functional or

departmental boundaries.

We’ve all been in situations where a division or

functional group within an organization points fingers at other

divisions when a process failure occurs. Or part of a team that had

little idea of how their function fits into other functions within the

organization. This article discusses an issue that affects almost every

organization, and that’s breaking down functional or departmentalized

thinking and creating streams of information that flow across multiple

functional or departmental boundaries.

Most organizations use

departments and business units in order to differentiate the various

functions and services which drive their business. For example,

personnel related matters are managed in HR departments, payroll is

handled in accounting departments and computer and systems related

incidents are resolved in IT departments, and so on. In addition most

business intelligence systems are built to support decision making in

those specific functional areas rather than being built around core

processes that span the enterprise and govern how a business operates.

For instance, marketing collects only the information it needs to put

products and services before the public eye. Sales departments pay

attention to leads, and conversions, and customer buying patterns. And

customer service tracks only those customers who call in with questions

and complaints, and how the issue was resolved.

In reality,

business processes are streams of activity that flow across functional

boundaries, and not contained within a single department. As a result

business processes are often fragmented across “functional silos”. A

silo in this case is a division or management system that is not

integrated with the operations of other, related divisions or

management systems.

The problem with organizations that are

trapped in this siloed mentality is employees rarely study how their

function contributes to the larger business process in which their

function supports. As a result, these organizations have limited

knowledge on their processes and often do not properly identify their

core processes. This is a major pain point in many performance

management initiatives, because most major processes require support

from multiple functional support groups. In order to break down these

silos, each functional group and individual must understand how their

primary process fits into the core function of their business.

In

order to successfully measure the performance and efficiency of these

major processes, we must first understand which groups are responsible

for handling these processes and what their responsibilities are.

Second, we must understand the handoffs of responsibility, that is,

when and how the process gets transferred from one group to the next.

Thirdly, we must develop requirements for each responsibility within

the process. And if we’re really serious about eliminating functional

thinking within our organizations, we must cross-train employees so

that they fully understand the entire processes, which they support.

For

example, when a purchase request comes in, an approval committee or

governance team must approve or reject that request within 24 hours.

Then the purchasing department must place the order within 24 hours.

Then, the warehouse must send the order within 24 hours. Once we

understand this, we can say that the purchasing order process, if

approved, will be completed within 72 hours. If the purchase is not

sent within 72 hours, we now understand where the bottleneck occurred.

Ultimately, if this happens on multiple occasions, the responsible

group will have to revisit their sub-processes.

Success breaking

down functional thinking depends largely on how well the performance

management team involves functional support group management and key

team members, and how well these sub-processes are identified. Breaking

down functional thinking is critical for organizational growth. The

important aspect is developing the proper communication channels

throughout the entire organization so that when dependencies and cross

functional processes are identified, points of contacts will be

established and each group will be responsible for ensuring that their

staff understand their contribution to largerFree Articles, multi-functional

processes and organization goals.

Originally posted at Work 2.0