Executives have stated that the number one obstacle to addressing the full customer lifecycle is allowing different business units to own different parts of it.

When there are divides in departments that don’t go away and continue to be present, it’s easy to create data silos that negatively impact a customers experience. For example, a customer service rep may learn from a client that she hasn’t been able to use the mobile banking app to apply for the credit card they need. If the customer service rep doesn’t share that information with the developers in charge of the mobile app, that part of the customer experience continues to fall short.

Digital transformations are continuing to motivate organizations to deliver exceptional customer experiences, however, it is also important to ensure that those experiences are consistent across the full customer lifecycle. Because of this, organizations need to create and empower cross-functional digital teams to address a holistic customer lifecycle, from prospect to buyer to advocate.

What is a cross-functional team?

According to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) a “cross-functional group consists of 5-11 individuals who can define, build, test, and deliver an increment of value in a brief timebox and they are called an Agile team. These teams have the authority and accountability to manage their own work, which increases productivity and reduces time-to-market. Agile teams commit to small batches of work, allowing them to shorten feedback cycles and adjust to changing needs.” 

Creating a seamless customer experience requires a unified view of the customer, one that takes into account their interactions at every part of the lifecycle.


Here are five fundamental actions to take into consideration when building such a team:


1. Establish a set of shared goals

Cross-functional team members are drawn from different departments within an organization and because of this, they may have different things they feel they need to get done as well as different difficulties that you need to take into account. In many cases, these conflicting goals could potentially hinder the team’s performance. Without the common ground of shared goals, team members may find it difficult to cooperate and collaborate with their teammates.

Establishing a shared set of goals also helps to lay a groundwork for future collaboration and trust.

2. Promote Transparent Communication

In order to avoid confusion and misunderstandings within teams, it’s important to establish expectations and standards for communication in the beginning. This will help make sure that there is no unnecessary conflict within the teams as well. 

When issues are transparently highlighted, ideas for a solution are openly shared. Embracing this habit increases the chance of getting things done faster.

3. Build Trust and Accountability

Trust is a key aspect of any organization’s team-building efforts. If team members feel they are trusted they are more engaged within their work and want to take on more responsibility to be able to prove themselves even more. 

When people feel accountability is exemplified, encouraged, and followed-up on in a predictable way, trust is strengthened, even when they fail to perform.

4. Measure Performance

Even the most well-intentioned team can fail unless performance levels are measured to optimize performance, manage conflict, maintain momentum and identify progress.

Cross-functional teams need a way of knowing how well they’re delivering. By identifying and referencing Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), teams can track how much progress they’ve made towards their overarching goals, which helps to hold every member accountable for the team’s performance.

5. Establish Flow

As mentioned by SAFe, “to develop and release high-quality work products quickly, Agile teams operate in a fast, flow-based environment. Creating flow requires eliminating the traditional start-stop-start project initiation and development process, along with the incumbent phase gates that hinder progress. Instead, teams visualize and limit work in process (WIP), reduce the batch sizes of work items, and manage queue lengths (SAFe Principle #6). They also base milestones and measures on an objective evaluation of working systems (SAFe Principle #5). 

Teams build a Continuous Delivery Pipeline (CDP) to shepherd new pieces of functionality from ideation to an on-demand release of value to the end-user. Unlike traditional project management, where success is measured by completing an entire initiative on time and on budget, Agile teams quickly release small, Minimal Marketable Features (MMF) to learn and adapt. Small features flow through the system quickly to provide feedback and allow course correction.”


How Applied SAFe Relates

We have seen that there are organizations that have teams using different methodologies. These teams have different projects running Waterfall, Iterative, and Agile, more specifically SAFe, with no understanding of how to sync them.

With the help of Instantiation, the built-in functionality in Applied SAFe, each individual project has the capability to have their own tailored version which really reflects what they are doing. This ultimately allows teams that work in various methodologies, such as the ones I mentioned above, to still work simultaneously.

Instantiation and Tailoring in a Digital Transformation

Read how our Client dealt with having some endeavors that were running Agile and others not.


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