Management Matters

How to Ensure Seamless Departments Integration – 0515A

Date Posted: 05/11/2015

When joining two ends of a pipeline, you need to perfectly align the rims to avoid leakage or blockage. In the case of an organization, the pipeline is the process chain between departments, and the management is the instigator aligning the seams.

Departments cannot be expected to integrate and synchronize on their own, and hence when managements fail to properly align departments and integrate departmental processes properly, coordination suffers and results in bottlenecks which create slowdowns. Seamless coordination is critical to a company that is seeking to efficiently integrate efforts of different departments or segments and leadership gets hampered when managers cannot function in tandem with each other resulting in employees getting confused about their responsibilities.

In multi-functional companies where different departments/agencies team up to produce an assembled product, perfect coordination in design, technical and production capabilities is necessary to ensure the end product is satisfactory. Thus, good integration becomes a critical management obligation so as to balance centralization and decentralization for operational efficiency within the whole group which enables people with different roles to homogeneously function and coordinate efforts to achieve an organization’s goals.

The harmful fallout of poor integration between departments can often be caused by:

•    Poor coordination, lack of clarity and confusion in departmental jurisdiction and harmful inter-departmental competition.

•    Poor integration of departments causing redundancy because of duplication and overlap of functions, resulting in double spending of resources, disabling an organization to optimize efforts toward achieving common objectives.

•    Bad cooperation between different departments and segments of the whole process invariably cause slowdown, and lowers customer satisfaction.

•    Interruption of information flow when one department wrongly claims exclusive ownership over some information/data and does not let it flow forward, it creates a logjam and even missed business opportunities.

•    Obsolete/stagnant organizational systems. Rigidity or disregard of established processes deters effectiveness of systems and disables the ability to respond rapidly to changing market demands.

•    Unhealthy rivalry within departments of an organization disrupts harmony between personnel, frustrating accountability and resulting in untold harm.

Here are some proven techniques for achieving coordination through better integration:

Adopt structural planning
Unite people for a common organizational objective with effective coordination.  Define overall goals and departmental sub-goals so that everyone clearly understands their roles and how these contribute to realizing overall objectives. All units need to appreciate their inter-dependability and how their respective outputs affect the next step in the processes chain.

Identify vertical powers
The larger the organization the more difficult it is to monitor coordination lapses till a crisis occurs. Therefore keep the hierarchy well defined and accountable with line of vertical authority clearly identified.

Ensure proper inter-departmental communication
Bring departments closer through effective communication channels for exchanging ideas and data and encourage mutual support rather than competition. Implement frequent interface through joint meetings to ensure uniformity of action. Make decisions collective so that everyone has ownership of actions.

Monitor leadership and cooperation
Continuously oversee respective activities of departments and have early-warning alerts for potential disruptions. Reassure managers of their authority and accountability to dispel any perceived threats from other departments.

Impose policy and incentivize
Condition all managers and their personnel to the importance of reaching business goals based on shared interest. Promote team-spirit and cooperation through profit-sharing or bonuses.

Inter-departmental liaison
Like many larger organizations that use coordinators to monitor work flow and information, position ‘coupler’ coordinators for liaising between departments to ensure that one department meets its output timeline as required by another department.

Self coordination
Ensure that every unit appreciates the contributions of other related units and that they moderate their own outputs to balance with that of other units.

Committed leadership for coordination
Coordinated working is possible only if senior management invests itself in ensuring integration. A management with sustained commitment to harmonious integration can be the model to motivate managers and staff.

Administrative systems and accountability
It is for management to lay down every role profile so that everyone knows what they need to do. With the fast pace of change in industry, variation allowance should be made to avoid rigidity and excessive compartmentalization. The degree of flexibility may be determined by the nature and time frames of a project. Individual accountable should be meaningfully merged into the collective responsibility to become a joint objective. Balancing the inherently competitive characters of people is important and should also be taken into account.

In conclusion, for successful integration of units the onus is solely upon management to appropriately empower its team leaders to exercise authority to represent their departments on the one hand, and enable cooperation with other departments, on the other.

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