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How to Use Employee Apps to Break Down Departmental Silos

departmental silos using employee apps

Organizational silos are named after the silos you find on grain farms. They are formidable, self-contained, and difficult to get things into and out of without some heavy lifting involved.

Almost 80% of senior executives reported that effective coordination across product, functional, and geographic lines is crucial to growth. Those are good properties to have in a structure designed to hold and protect massive quantities of grain, but they are not great properties for organizational departments or groups to have. Admittedly, there should be some boundaries between various departments across the enterprise, but when someone would rather design a process workaround than go through the hassle of penetrating the IT fortress and asking for help, what was once a reasonable boundary has likely become a productivity-shrinking silo.

There are several types of organizational silos, and all can cause problems with productivity, efficiency, and morale. Heavily siloed organizations are ones that display less teamwork and poorer communication. They tend to lack the focus of organizations with more reasonable boundaries. Duplication of effort can be a serious problem when silos exist within organizations, and they can result in the wasted energy of people being possessive of their roles when it is not necessary. Employee apps are tools that can prevent silos from springing up and that can assist in breaking down unhealthy silos.

Breaking Down Geographic Barriers

Geographic silos may be among the easiest to dismantle. Communication technologies today can take the place of much physical travel and can engender cohesiveness among employees that may be geographically dispersed. The employee app that allows for easy communication across projects, departments, and locations can encourage stronger cross-communication and prevent scenarios like the Chicago office avoiding communication with the Dallas office even though the Dallas office may have an easy solution to a problem.

Your organization may already have greater resources than you imagine in terms of specialized skills or your organizational knowledge base, and communication apps are a terrific tool for making use of those resources.

Projects Should Not Isolate Teams

On occasion, a team may have to spend a certain amount of time solely dedicated to a particular project, but that should not be the norm. Projects should not be guarded as if they were proprietary unless they really are. What people learn from one project may carry over to other projects, but when silos grow up around certain projects, those lessons will not be shared, causing others to repeat mistakes and “reinvent the wheel” when it is not necessary to do so.

When a project concludes, you may consider having the core project team share their lessons learned with relevant parties, so that future projects can make use of existing wisdom and avoid duplication of effort. Does your employee app include provision for sharing project information appropriately? It should.

Making Technology Available and Shareable

Cases exist where technology really cannot be shared easily, but that does not justify the organizational equivalent of keeping it in a locked glass case. If a research team requires that a digital image is printed out at a large scale, and the graphics department is the only place such a printer exists, it should not be overly difficult to arrange to print the digital image. Often the main thing preventing such sharing of technology is personal possessiveness, and this can have serious effects not only on how efficiently work gets done but on motivation and employee morale as well.

Imagine an employee app that allows people to request the use of specialized equipment across departmental boundaries. Perhaps it presents a list of specialized equipment and allows users to tap on a particular listing to be automatically taken to a request form. Not only does this ensure better resource use, but it also promotes a culture of sharing and collaboration.

The Problem with Turf-Based Silos

Silos that are based upon nothing more than employees who are possessive of their roles are bad in multiple ways. While there is nothing wrong with employees having defined roles, problems can arise when these role definitions are used to hamstring collaboration and cooperation.

Most of the time, organizations get by even if there are people who are protective of “their” turf and their role. However, situations may arise that can be seriously problematic. For example, what happens if both of the people who consider themselves the only “authorized” users of a piece of equipment are absent on the same day?

Such situations can be avoided by good communication and management support for those who challenge self-imposed silos based on role. Employee apps can help by encouraging openness and communication.

Employee Apps and Productivity

Employee apps have many purposes, and one of the most important ones is maximizing productivity. 53% of respondents in a CITO Research report stated mobile apps improve business processes and productivity. There is simply no reason to make the employee who travels on business wait until he or she is back at an office desk to begin the expense reimbursement process. Receipts can be photographed and submitted via mobile, and expense reimbursement forms can be made mobile-friendly too.

Likewise, why should your field reps be forced to jot down notes while at a job site and then submit documentation once they return to the office? If your employee app allows a field rep to log steps and supply use as they happen right there in the field, everyone saves time, and there is far less risk of the inaccuracy of reporting.

Training Apps

Employees may not relish the idea of spending time in a classroom, but they definitely understand the importance of training. In fact, employees want training, because they want to be able to do their work with the greatest efficiency and skill. Employee apps can be excellent delivery systems for training modules. Advances in mobility, gamification, and the development of “bite-sized” learning modules have transformed employee training, in fact.

Can you expect the right employee app to break down organizational silos? Absolutely, as long as this goal is explicitly stated and is openly supported by management. Today’s successful businesses are built upon efficiency, and needless bureaucracy can be a serious hindrance. HubEngage allows companies like yours to create custom employee apps that conform to their needs, rather than forcing your employees to conform to an existing app that might not be right.

With HubEngage, you have the flexibility and the power to develop employee apps that raise productivity and efficiency, and that help dismantles unnecessary organizational silos. Better still, you can try the HubEngage app for free, so there is no risk. Put the power of the employee app to work for your organization, break down silos, and encourage collaboration for a more successful tomorrow.

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