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Why Cross-functional Collaboration is Key to a Successful Digital Strategy

Hillary Brooks

Digital Strategist, Forum One

One of the most significant hurdles in implementing a successful digital strategy is a lack of common understanding around digital tools, processes and goals. This is why it’s imperative for teams to collaborate and achieve their goals together.

A digital strategy is only as strong as the perspectives that are brought in to create it. Without the development team, the communications team may not know where donors are receiving information. Without program teams, the communications team doesn’t have the content they need to share the stories of their work on the ground. And finally, without executive support, a digital program is unlikely to get off the ground.

Getting buy-in from disparate teams—each motivated by their own goals and perspectives—is of course easier said than done. Often, the buy-in process is confounded even further by a lack of understanding of the digital space. How can the communications team successfully overcome these challenges when it comes to socializing and implementing a digital strategy?

Educate Your Teams

As mentioned, one of the biggest hurdles in creating successful digital strategies is the challenges around understanding digital tools, processes and goals. Often, knowledge of the digital landscape varies widely throughout an organization and so trying to provide this education, while developing your digital strategy, can result in frustration. 

Before establishing your digital strategy, understand what your key stakeholders do and don’t grasp about online communications—starting from the very basics.  Identify an executive sponsor who can be your champion throughout the process of developing and socializing a digital strategy. Connect with the leaders of your organization to gauge where their digital knowledge lies, and what they need from a digital strategy. 

Create Feedback Channels

Departments that may not have historically had a digital footprint are now part of the digital landscape. Often, these teams don’t have an understanding of what they can or cannot achieve in the digital space. In worst-case scenarios, these teams may try to take a digital approach into their own hands, potentially undermining the communications team’s core strategy and messaging. 

One method that can be particularly effective is to meet with key stakeholders in each of your organization’s departments ahead of creating a digital plan to understand from an elementary level what their team’s objectives are for the year ahead. Gathering feedback from them in the earliest stages will ensure that they are informed and feel included in your digital process.

Build Trusted Relationships

Historically, IT departments determined technical needs and made large purchasing decisions for the organization. Now, communications and marketing teams are some of the largest purchasers of tech and digital products, but still need IT to support them in implementation and use. This change in dynamic can be a source of friction between the two. How can this be avoided? 

Taking the time to build a relationship between teams is critical in moving digital strategies forward. And in order for it to be successful, it needs to be started well ahead of developing a digital plan. By understanding each others’ requirements, goals, and pain points,  teams can see themselves as a truly global team, working together to drive change. 

Create Alignment

It wasn’t that long ago that different organizational functions could be siloed when it came to their outward-facing presence without consequence. This is, however, no longer the case. Especially across digital channels, your audiences are indifferent to your organizational structure, and ultimately, this lies at the core of your digital strategy. 

Ensure that your digital strategy aligns with cross-organizational goals. Going through a collaboration and buy-in process can be a challenge, and at times even seem impossible, but when these relationships are established ahead of developing a strategy, then your collective organizational voice is that much stronger.

A digital strategy doesn’t impact just one part of your organization—it is an integral part of your brand, recruiting, and funding processes. Understanding what the various teams throughout your organization need ahead of creating a digital strategy will allow you to develop and implement a digital plan that gets to the core of your organization’s objectives.

Need some help getting internal alignment and buy-in for your digital strategy?

It’s no small task. We’re here to help. Get in touch today and we’ll connect you with our strategy experts to talk it though.

Written By

Hillary Brooks

Digital Strategist, Forum One