Cross functional collaboration is a very simple phrase for a very complex challenge.  Cross functional collaboration crosses, internal silos with external businesses and external customers and then external customers of these external businesses and requires coordination and collaboration across all partners to support the various partnerships.  This all must be taken into account to support and provide value to the overall partnership across all of the partners. Along with the convoluted relationships defined above, another challenge that must be addressed is the partner's objectives that may, at first view, seem to be at odds with other partner objectives. 


The challenge then is addressed through collaborative actions and consensus across partners.  This sounds easy for this very convoluted relationship navigation and activities required to support the cross functional and cross partner collaboration.  You must be careful that you don’t over simplify the requirements and the effort because this will fuel the failure of meeting the overarching objectives.  This will require a great deal of effort to build the relationships and then it will require a great deal of continuing effort, from all business partners, to maintain these relationships. 


Starting with the first conversations and developing the strategy you must focus on building the cross functional collaborative relationships because this is the key to the success.  Develop the relationship and it will make the other efforts a little easier to address.  Collaboration is a two way street and while the cross functional demands and partners and objectives make this a little difficult it is not an overwhelming task.  The difficulty in developing and maintaining these cross functional relationships is the reason why it is important to maintain a continuous review process across all partners to improve and grow the relationship, the benefits and the continuing interest in maintaining these relationships.  The good news is that all of these activities related to building and maintaining the cross functional relationship at not single function activities.  In other words these activities are part of the collaborative activities previously outlined.


It is important that all partners are aware of the requirements to develop and maintain a robust cross functional collaborative partnership and that all partners enter into this relationship understanding both the efforts to maintain and the potential benefits that can be achieved.  It is important to enter into these relationships without preconceived notions and collaborate with the partners to develop a consensus for objectives and activities required to meet the objectives.  It is also important to realize and accept the knowledge that the cross functional collaborative partnerships require a continuous improvement process to sense and respond to changes in business objectives, customer priorities, partner participation and growth in order to grow and succeed.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?