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Project Portfolio Management

The Challenges of Cross Collaboration & How to Solve Them

Published By Team AdaptiveWork

Projects using cross collaboration teams are fraught with peril. Research for the Harvard Business Review has found that 75% of cross-functional teams aren’t successful. Thus, it requires a skilled PM to be able to navigate the various risks associated with combining a multi-disciplinary team and achieve success for the project.

We’ve taken a look at some of the biggest pitfalls facing cross collaboration teams and what you can do to try and avoid them.

Goal Conflicts

The problem: Different departments can have very divergent goals even though they are a part of the same organization. This creates many issues such as forcing members to choose between loyalty to the project or their department, distracting focus from your project’s goals and preventing the team from pulling together in one direction.

The solution: Before beginning the project acknowledge the issue and set out a clear project charter. This will set out the goals, deadlines and responsibilities of team members, ensuring that there can be no recourse for deviation from your project’s course without approval and agreement.

Insufficient Support Mechanisms

The problem: Too often cross collaboration teams don’t have a governance platform that understands the various processes in motion or leadership that can provide sufficient oversight. This means that risks can arise unforeseen and small issues snowball into major crises because they weren’t dealt with properly in time.

The solution: It has been shown that teams that have higher-level cross-functional support have nearly three times the success rate as teams that didn’t. This demonstrates that having an executive oversight and support team that also happens to be cross-collaboration will give your team a much stronger chance of avoiding issues due to better understanding of what they might be in the first place.

Silo Mentality

The problem: The larger an organization or project gets, the greater the chance of it falling prey to what’s known as the silo mentality, i.e. different departments not communicating and sharing information with each other.

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The solution: As a cross-collaboration project won’t necessarily add anything to their own department managers can often be as guilty of this as anyone else. Therefore, full management buy-in is essential to  totally committed teamwork. Consider getting the relevant heads together to hear out their grievances and ask them what might prevent them from giving their full support to the project.


The problem: For a variety of reasons such as changing market conditions or organizational priorities, sometimes projects have to change tack and move with the prevailing winds. For cross-functional teamwork however, this can be a significant challenge. Having to get agreement and buy-in again from department heads, can lead the project either continuing on course for failure or collapsing altogether.

The solution: When establishing the project’s path, include provision for reviews at relatively regular intervals. The remit of these shall be to determine if the project’s initial goals are still valid and how closely aligned the project currently is with them. If it is decided that change must be made, set out the process by which this will happen and who’s sign-off will be needed.

Cross collaboration teamwork can be an excellent way to make use of a wide variety of skills but can also be very difficult to manage. Whichever way you decide to overcome these issues, using project management software that allows team members and managers to collaborate easily will be key to your success.

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Written by Team AdaptiveWork