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The 5-step guide to breaking business silos

As businesses grow bigger, silos become stronger.

No organization is immune. Even the most innovative organizations struggle to connect teams around common missions, visions and goals. When information isn’t being shared, it’s your bottom line that takes the hit.

In an ideal world, every team member would be on the same page, in the loop about important projects, and focused on initiatives that move the needle. Information would flow freely, employees would have the resources that they need on-demand, and there would be zero organizational redundancies.

However, the harsh truth is that it’s going to be impossible for organizations to wholly eradicate team silos. There are initiatives, however, that business leaders can implement to position teams in the right direction. Accelerate change through impactful, methodical steps. Here are 5 ideas to get you started on breaking down business silos.

1. Implement systems for file collaboration

One of the biggest challenges that teams face is the absence of a unified file sharing platform and collaboration tool. Rather than storing information in a central place, employees are sharing files through email — often generating confusion about up-to-date versions. A cloud-based, enterprise content management (ECM) or collaboration (ECC) platform can help you streamline communication and eliminate confusion. A company-wide system and robust administration features will help with breaking business silos, ensuring that people have open access to the right information.

2. Design a mobile device management strategy

With the mobile revolution, team members are accessing information at all hours of the day, no matter where they are in the world. Even still, companies are lagging behind in implementing official BYOD policies — leaving team members confused about how to best stay connected. Eliminate potential confusion by setting expectations upfront, and have a robust BYOD policy in place that all employees sign off on.

3. Create a global view of your workforce

At any given time, your executive teams should maintain an operational view of your workforce. Take time to evaluate ongoing initiatives in depth and spot potential redundancies and areas of overlap.

Identify opportunities for breaking business silos and building bridges between teams — helping them share IP, resources and assets. Awareness is your first step to efficiency.

4. Encourage open dialogue

One of the biggest barriers to transparency is a fear of making mistakes. From a process optimization perspective, it’s crucial to build a culture that allows your team members to openly communicate changes in direction, experiment results and learnings openly, with a positive mindset.

Practice discussions, coach your teams and actively solicit feedback. Open dialogue is a practice that takes time to master — and will be crucial to your organization in the long run.

5. Invest in education

Webinars, knowledge centers and resource hubs are important information management tools for breaking business silos. Employees are eager to learn about your organization’s big picture. As fast as you’re running, it’s important to take a step back and ensure that every employee has quick and efficient access to the information they need. Empower teams to self-direct their own communication and learning, both through technology and processes.

Start breaking down those silos

Breaking down information silos is part of a larger information optimization strategy. So how can you best make your information work for you? Learn more


Ritika Puri is a business writer and consultant with a background in quantitative strategy and analytics. She has developed growth programs for a major technology company and regularly writes for clients including American Express OPEN Forum, SAP, Modis, Business Insider and Forbes. In past lives, she ran research studies on business costs in Los Angeles County. She co-founded a free health clinic in New Delhi, India when she was 20.

Ritika Puri