What Is a Cross-Functional Project Workflow?

Cross-Functional Project Workflow

A cross-functional project workflow is a lot like a car. The goal of the car is simple: get you from point A to point B. This is made possible by multiple, very different pieces that work in a chain. A mechanic has the challenge of keeping all these pieces working together.

If you run projects that rely on collaborators from multiple teams, you probably feel some sympathy for the mechanic. It can be a struggle to get these projects to the finish line while keeping everyone aligned. The good news? Unito can help.

In this article you’ll discover:

  • What makes a cross-functional project workflow
  • Common friction points of this workflow
  • How Unito eliminates these friction points
  • A cross-functional project workflow powered by Unito

Defining a cross-functional project workflow

What do we mean by a cross-functional project workflow? It’s a workflow that encompasses everything that needs to happen before the project is declared done. This includes kickoff meetings, Slack messages, progress reports, even the creation of individual tasks in your project management tool. If you take the time to map that out, you’ll likely realize there are specific points in your workflow that don’t go as smoothly as others. 

Here are some common ones.

Common friction points of the cross-functional project workflow

All projects run into hiccups along the way. Involve multiple teams and “hiccups” can quickly become “blockers.”

Endless meetings

Kickoff meetings, weekly update meetings, emergency blocker meetings — the list goes on. When projects span multiple teams, keeping the lines of communication open is crucial. The last thing you want is for one team to forge ahead with outdated information. Collaborators and stakeholders need to be kept in the loop in real-time. You could use emails and other types of asynchronous communication to try and keep everyone informed, but someone’s bound to call a meeting eventually.

The great divide between teams

Each team works their way. That can mean different tools, separate workflows, and radically varied leadership structures from one team to the other. When different teams have to work together on a single project, they have to meet in the middle to figure out how they’re going to collaborate. But instead of finding one common way of working, technical and operational limitations can keep both teams working their way and shooting work over a gaping divide that grows between them. Project managers and individual collaborators have to venture across to get updates and hand off deliverables. In the office, that can mean walking over to a different department for a shoulder-tap conversation. But complicate things just a bit — like being fully remote — and you’re spending your days in video calls and email threads. If you’re working with multiple other teams at once, you can quickly get flooded by notifications and requests.

Forcing a single tool on other teams

One way to eliminate the no-man’s land is having everyone working in the same tool. When that happens, streamlining collaboration just becomes a matter of properly organizing projects and simplifying your communication channels. That’s the dream, right? But what tool is everyone going to work in? If your project managers live in Asana and your developers work in Jira, which one are you going to pick? And what if a third team uses Trello exclusively? Nothing can evoke a heated argument like forcing a single project management tool on multiple teams. These tools aren’t all built the same, and someone’s going to have to give up something if you’re going to establish a single tool as the objective source of truth. 

How Unito eases that friction

When you use Unito to manage your workflow, you’re bringing teams close enough together that they might as well be one. You’ll see the difference in the work they deliver.

Keep status updates in your tools, not your meetings

How many meetings do you have on your calendar? Newsflash: you probably don’t need most of them. The phrase “this could have been an email” exists for a reason. But when you’re in the midst of a cross-functional project, meetings tend to dominate the workflow as they allow everyone to access updates and information. With Unito, you can keep status updates and progress reports out of meetings and within the confines of your project management tools. Sync each team’s tools together, allowing information to flow freely between them. This allows everyone in the project to access the information they need, and interact with their collaborators, from the tools they’re already using. You’re never going to eliminate all your meetings, but with Unito, you can at least take back control over your calendar.

Building bridges between tools

The no-man’s land between tools and workflows is a real threat to your workflow. It’s why working with collaborators from a different team can feel clunky and alien. A lot of that can be traced to the tools each team uses. Workflows are built around tools, which can cause a huge disconnect when you need to work with a team that has their own way of doing things. But as long as each team is working with one of our integrations, you can communicate, stay updated, and work across tools like everyone’s in the same one. You can leave deliverables, information requests, and status updates in your tool, knowing they’ll be seen by the right person, whatever tool they’re in. Build the best workflow you can, and then choose the tools that complement it.

No need to fight for your tool

Your project management tool of choice stops being a scary boogeyman for the other team, and vice versa. The first step of a cross-functional project workflow stops being “choose the tool the teams are going to use” and becomes “build the syncs we need to work seamlessly.” Focus pre-project planning on the most efficient way to do things instead of arguing over which tool is the best. Thanks to our deep, two-way integrations, nobody needs to be forced into a tool they don’t want to use.

A cross-functional project workflow with Unito

By eliminating the friction points, Unito can completely transform your cross-functional project workflow. 

Imagine a product manager at a tech company who’s in charge of launching a new feature. They use Asana to coordinate with developers, UX/UI designers, and marketers. But the developers work in Jira, while the designers and marketers each have their own Trello board. The product manager is left to jump back and forth between tools, set up endless meetings, and practically live in their inbox to not miss any updates. 

With Unito, that cross-functional project workflow becomes far simpler. The product manager could do the following:

  1. Hold a project kick-off meeting with all stakeholders to identify action items.
  2. Build a project in Asana.
  3. Create a sync to enable the dispatching of tasks from the Asana project to Jira for developers and to Trello for marketers and designers.
  4. Review and follow tasks from Asana, knowing everything is up-to-date across tools. Handle requests for information and feedback as they come in without changing tools.
  5. Issues or blockers brought up in an individual collaborator’s tool are synced over to the master project in Asana where they can be addressed.
  6. Build additional syncs to give executives or board members direct visibility into the project’s progress from their preferred tool.

Ready to upgrade your workflow?

With Unito, a collection of tools starts feeling like they were meant to work together. You and all of the project stakeholders will never have to leave your tools of choice to collaborate seamlessly.

When collaborators are spread out over multiple teams, you’re bound to hit roadblocks. With Unito, you can smash through blockers and build your perfect workflow.

What’s next?

1. Want to read more about what Unito can do for your workflow? Read about it here.
2. See the power of Unito in action.
3. Ready to start? Try Unito free for 14 days!