Does more collaboration always mean more revenue?

I discussed with my husband, who works in IT as well over breakfast last week. We chatted about AI- pilot for knowledge management purposes. We lofted a few feasible ideas and realized it might be doable but needed some more planning. Both of us are a bit geeky (some might say not just a bit). So, of course, the idea consisted of many new features from all over Microsoft stack we could think of.

What got me thinking about our morning conversation was Heidi K ‘Gardner’s Harvard Business Review article about the collaboration.

The bigger the company, the more knowledge they have (or at least the assumption is there), and most likely they experience challenges in working across business units, even across teams. At least in the Northern Europe area, we have experienced a growing need to be able to address ‘customer’s more and more complex needs and issues. In my line of work, that involves the whole Microsoft product stack.

I see some operational problems with this market direction. To be able to increase the number of collaborators, to increase revenue, the company needs to have multidisciplinary collaboration. Additionally, they need genuine want to combine the expertise at use as an added value to the customer. And there it is, our favorite thing in organizations, the silos.

Heidi K. Gardner did research which showed the more disciplines that are involved in customer engagement, the higher the annual average revenue the customer generates. It showed customers valued broader offering knowledge and understood the increased cost for producing it.

At least here in Finland, we keep on hearing about the fear of vendor lock. Companies apply sourcing and vendor governance models that aim to secure prices ‘don’t increase due to monopoly, and there’s always more than one vendor in the house.

How do you get full benefit out of trusted advisor or partner vendor in these cases?

In the best scenario, companies get excellent service from one vendor who can manage both the entire customer and the business sector company represents. In the best cases, it realizes the as massive increase in customer satisfaction and overall customer experience.
Both rules and regulations, as well as technology, changes continuously. There are very few companies that have, or even should have teams keeping track of things not belonging to companies’ core business. Finding trusted advisors or trusted partners is a key to success and key to staying aware of what might give you added value and what you can pass.

Being able to deliver seamless service, for example, across national borders will be a valuable differentiation for vendor/ partner company.

On an individual level, professionals who contribute to ‘colleagues’ customer work tend to have increased profitability rates even within their clients. Teaming up will provide a better understanding of the ‘company’s offering, so the personal value of an individual contributor increases within the customer, team, and organization.

These kinds of entities, programs, require strong leadership for the program on the operational level and even stronger internal leadership from the vendor.

What enables the process?

To create a disciplined way of working, you need to have a team that understands the need to put team value over personal benefit.
More sophisticated work is acquired. It’s no longer about what the vendor can offer but what customer needs and the ability to serve those needs efficiently. It’s learning to work with the people you don’t have any authority, and admitting that others have specialized knowledge, you don’t have any understanding.

Tips for the cross-business unit team members:

Don’t squeeze your team members- give the responsibility and credit where it belongs

Deliver what you committed to on time- take responsibility of your actions

Communicate openly – be open to and give and receive constructive feedback professionally.

Leading towards cross-business unit collaboration

Like in any new way of working, this requires adaption from the team members and strong support from the organization and its leaders.

Like in any new way of working, this requires adaption from the team members and strong support from the organization and its leaders.

Several organizations undermine the need or importance of communication and adaption plans. It’s time-consuming to write emails, talk with people, give them the possibility to tell about their toughs and feelings. It takes time to make sure everyone is aware of implementation and communicate as transparently as possible.

I I believe the real question in here is “How much you want this change to succeed?”

All this should be in everyday tasks and in cultural behavior:

  • Instead of rewarding a person who made a million euros deal all alone, ask wasn’t there any other way to get that same outcome?
  • Reward effective collaboration like increase on customer satisfaction level, or client retention, growth in revenue or profits in existing accounts
  • Measure non-billable effort such as mentoring, sharing knowledge and giving advice

I would dare to argue there are not many organizations which master this kind of approach. Somehow it always comes to silos. Instead of seeing the more prominent, company-wide picture, we destroy our success by not having the full support for complete success and not supporting the change from old habits to new ones on all levels we should.

If your organization has mastered this cross-business unit actions, ‘I’d sure like to hear about it, or at least your thoughts on how it should be done.

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