Real-World Business

In Response: Making Silos Work for Your Organization

Fragmentation Problems

We talk a fair amount about siloes, and often highlight the negative impact they can have on the operational efficiency of an organization. We’ve also extrapolated that argument (in the context of banking) to put forward the notion that they impact an organization’s ability to stay in compliance with governmental regulations. In fact, a recent article from Herman Vantrappen for the Harvard Business Review highlighted these exact complaints, stating, 

“Boundaries may lead to insular mindsets that inhibit sharing or collaboration between verticals, or worse, they could lead to finger-pointing and turf wars.”

Clearly, siloes and organizational verticals have their challenges, sometimes resulting in a “he-said, she-said” outcome that is not desirable to business leaders and their customers. However, siloes going away any time soon, at least in the world of financial services. Siloes can still provide benefits, including “aggregated expertise, the assignment of accountability, and the provision of a sense of identity.”

How, then, can silo-effects which hamper productivity be overcome? One of the ways is through cross-silo (or, cross-department) collaboration. Unfortunately, if the metaphorical walls between silos are more similar to bricks than to panes of glass, this might be hard to do (especially in more established industries). 

Common Solutions

Vantrappen’s solution for the problems that arise in vertical-based organizations is to ”build bridges between verticals, and institute checks and balances.” He goes on to list a variety of methodologies and tools that may work toward providing such solutions - one of which is “enabling infrastructure,” such as a common IT platform.

Common IT platforms allow for workers across verticals to access the knowledge necessary to perform their job functions, but also to have a view into what other teams and verticals may be responsible for. Particularly when two teams in question are dealing with the same customer, product, or issue, the common IT platform (a CXM platform, for instance) allows for cross-departmental collaboration without the actual breaking down of silo walls.

The implications of implementing such solutions ensure that a silo can remain intact, while allowing the information that flows between those silos to be more agile and free. Platforms such as these act as overlays on top of established systems, creating a more dynamic flow of information between departments. This also allows for improved visibility into business practices and processes and can improve efficiency and even compliance.