In today’s episode of ‘From the eLearning Trenches,’ we asked one of our learners, an administrator in public practice, to identify what they could do now to improve the level of collaboration between administrative and technical staff within their firm?
To improve collaboration between administrative and technical teams, we can implement several strategies and initiatives.
- Regular Cross-Functional Meetings: Organise regular meetings that bring together members from both administrative and technical teams.
- Clear Communication Channels: Establish clear and effective communication channels to ensure that both teams can easily exchange information and updates.
- Define Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each team member. This can reduce conflicts and ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them.
- Share Goals and Objectives: Ensure that both teams are working toward common goals and objectives. When everyone understands the larger purpose, collaboration becomes more natural.
- Training and Skill Development: Provide opportunities for cross-training and skill development. This can help team members better understand each other’s roles and challenges.
- Create Cross-Functional Teams: Form cross-functional teams for specific projects. By mixing members from both teams, they can work closely together and gain a deeper appreciation for each other’s contributions.
- Feedback Mechanisms: Implement a feedback system that allows team members to provide input on how collaboration can be improved. Act on this feedback to make necessary changes.
- Collaborative Tools and Technology: Invest in collaborative tools and technology that can streamline communication and workflow between administrative and technical teams.
- Conflict Resolution: Develop a conflict resolution process to address any disputes or disagreements that may arise. Encourage open and constructive discussions to find solutions.
- Recognition and Appreciation: Acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of both administrative and technical staff.
- Leadership Support: Ensure that leaders and managers actively support and promote collaboration between the two teams.
- Cross-Training Workshops: Host workshops or training sessions that help team members understand each other’s work and challenges.
- Celebrate Achievements together: Celebrate the successful completion of projects and milestones together as a unified team.
- Continuous Improvement: Make collaboration an ongoing focus of improvement.
- Documentation and Knowledge Sharing: Encourage the sharing of knowledge and documentation between teams.
- Inclusive Decision-Making: Involve representatives from both teams in decision-making processes that affect both administrative and technical aspects of projects.
Feedback from our experts
This is a pretty good list of actions that any professional services team could take to improve internal collaboration.
One of the key challenges facing any firm is how to break down silos and ensure that there is clear and open communication between teams. In an accounting firm, the administrative team often feels like the ‘dumping ground’ for tasks that the technical or advisory team do not have the time to complete. Actions are reactive and, as a result, the team always seems to be putting out fires.
By adopting a more collaborative and proactive approach to practice management, the administrative team is able to take control of workflow and client relationships at an administrative level, freeing up time for accountants and advisors to complete workflow and add value to their clients. Which would you prefer for your firm?
How can you create more collaboration when no-one has any time?
- Leverage Technology for Efficiency: Utilize collaboration tools that integrate with the firm’s current systems to streamline communication, document sharing, and project management. Tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Asana can reduce the need for lengthy meetings and allow for asynchronous updates.
- Regular Short Stand-up Meetings: Implement brief daily or weekly stand-up meetings where each team member can quickly discuss their priorities and obstacles. This keeps everyone aligned without taking up too much time.
- Cross-Training Sessions: Organize short, periodic cross-training sessions where members from each team share insights about their workflows and challenges. These sessions can be as brief as 15 minutes and help build mutual understanding.
- Clear and Concise Documentation: Ensure that all processes and protocols are well-documented in an accessible central repository. This enables teams to self-serve information and reduces the back-and-forth communication necessary for clarification.
- Designate Collaboration Champions: Assign one or two individuals from each team who are responsible for bridging the gap between the groups. These individuals can be tasked with communicating key updates or issues that require attention, acting as liaisons without involving the entire team.
These steps aim to enhance collaboration without requiring large chunks of time and can be gradually implemented to suit the firm’s pace.
Key take-away: Improving collaboration between administrative and technical teams in an accounting firm, especially when time is scarce, can be a challenging endeavour. However, there are strategies that can facilitate better cooperation without requiring significant time investment.
This assessment task and response is taken from the Responsible Workflow Manager eLearning course. Click here to explore this course
Also, take a look at the Client Service Administration eLearning Course.
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