In line with my last blog surviving the pandemic crisis , I am confident you have assessed your main risks now. Some companies have put in place multifunctional teams.
Reasons for a multifunctional team
It makes sense gathering people from different departments to build a team. When we were in the office, in pre Covid-19 times, you, let’s say, were part of the Operations team. Your Logistics team was just round the corner, so when you needed information on the status of your raw materials deliveries, you just headed there and asked. When locked down though, this type of interactions disappears and the necessary cooperation amongst departments becomes more difficult, as everybody is remotely widespread. Further, due to the surge in videoconference calls your counterpart in Logistics is most of the time in a videoconference, so it’s difficult to get hold of. Sending an email is equally ineffective, as your colleague in Logistics will have his inbox pretty full. This is why a multifunctional team makes sense, so you can continue your projects ensuring that all departments wil be working together towards the goal.
Tips for a great multifunctional team
There are some points to take into account to avoid future problems. I explain myself. A multifunctional team is made of employees from different departments working together on a project. Each of those employees have a different level of seniority and hence, a different level of authorisation, based on their seniority in their own departments. When mixed in a multifunctional team, who is the one taking decisions? Who is the one authorising e.g.: expenditure? How do you ensure expenditure does not significantly increase in a critical cash restricted time?
Pre Covid-19 times each department had its own way to deal with expenditure requests and followed its own authorisation process. Senior management received information and monitored expenditure based on the authorisation process and the way to deal with the expenditures in each department.
With multifunctional teams, the way to deal with the expenditure and the authorisation process in each department gets dismantled. On top of building the multifunctional team, you have to re-define the way to deal with the expenditure and the authorisation process within the team. This will ensure you keep monitoring the project as well as the expenditure level. Further, you will also ensure that the expenditure is only carried out after proper authorisation, hence, keeping cash out at bay.
Other point where you would have to re-define the rules of operating is the leadership of the multifunctional team. You may end up with two or more directors within the team. Who is going to take the lead? You better define it before they try to do it themselves, as this latter may cause some frictions. During the emergency and stress of a lockdown, frictions amongst employees are clearly unnecessary and worse if directors are involved.
Clear and upfront directions on who is taking the lead and on reporting lines within the multifunctional team are key. Your Compliance team can help you ensure the authorisation levels and reporting lines are consistent with the rest of activities and departments. Further, they look over your operations still fall within your legal framework whilst you focus on the daily business.