Cross-Functional Collaboration Examples (With Definition and Benefits)

Updated January 26, 2023

When a company has an important project to conduct, it might implement a cross-functional collaboration initiative to bring different departments together. Combining departments can ensure teams support each other effectively by using their unique strengths. Learning about this process can help you implement it more effectively in the company at which you work. In this article, we provide three cross-functional collaboration examples and explain why this type of teamwork-based system is beneficial.

Related: Cross-Departmental Collaboration: 12 Tips To Foster It at Work

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What is cross-functional collaboration?

Cross-functional collaboration is a process that occurs when teams from the same company work toward a common goal. Each contributing party offers its own functional expertise or specialization that's necessary for the project to be successful. This type of collaboration can occur when a manager or project leader asks another team to participate in completing a project. Sometimes, the company might ask skilled employees together to work together on a large-scale project.

If you're responsible for forming a group of teams, consider each team's goals to ensure each team member has the same objective and understands the company's priorities. It's helpful to communicate each team's tasks to the group so they can provide each other with support and help each other complete their tasks efficiently. You can also share what each employee's responsibilities are to clarify expectations and minimize confusion. There are three important elements of successful cross-functional collaboration, including:


When creating a team, it's important to consider the details that help diversify the group. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Experience: When forming a team, consider including professionals who have significant experience so they can offer guidance to their less experienced team members. Their expertise may ensure that the project reaches completion successfully, with the expected level of quality.

  • Skills: Depending on the scope of the project, the manager may consider which skills are necessary to complete it successfully. They may form a team that includes people with unique skill sets to help ensure that each aspect of the project has someone with the capabilities to complete them.

  • Ability: Project managers may consider the abilities of their potential team members before asking them to join a team. For example, a manager might ask prospective team members if they know how to use specific computer software before considering them for the team.

  • Seniority: When an employee has seniority, they typically occupy a managerial or leadership role. Senior team members may manage cross-functional collaborative projects, which means they might develop a project plan and help the team set effective goals.

  • Location: Some employees may work within a department that operates in another location, such as in a different city, state or country. Including team members who work in a variety of locations can provide your team with fresh ideas and help with localization efforts.

  • Demographics: Depending on the type of project you're leading, it may be important to consider the demographics of the professionals you include on the team. Creating a team that's demographically diverse may help your team connect with its target audience more effectively.

Subject matter experts

Subject matter experts, or SMEs, are people who possess advanced knowledge and expertise about a specific product, discipline or process. They're essential for a cross-functional collaborative project because they know how to complete the most challenging work and can guide other team members on how to perform a task most efficiently. SMEs are often the first people a team consults when attempting to solve a problem or address an issue.

Read more: What Is a Subject Matter Expert? (And Pros and Cons of Using an SME)


Influencers are employees who perform leadership duties at a company, regardless of if they have a leadership role. They may be skilled in communication and team-building, which can help them develop a positive reputation at work. They may also motivate their colleagues to contribute to a project or improve their productivity. Therefore, influencers are essential figures to include within a cross-functional collaborative team.

Related: How To Develop Cross-Functional Teams

Benefits of cross-functional collaboration

Here are some benefits of implementing cross-functional collaboration:

  • Improves innovation: When professionals work together on a team, they may have varying opinions and methods for completing tasks. This can lead to creative problem-solving techniques and innovative decision-making.

  • Increases the change rate: Change rate describes how quickly you can implement changes within a project or process. When people from different departments work together, it may become easier to introduce changes, which can reduce potential operational or production delays.

  • Enhances company knowledge: Cross-functional collaboration allows employees to learn how experts in other departments complete their tasks. This can help them understand the company more deeply.

  • Aids in adaptability: A cross-functional collaborative project can offer employees the opportunity to work with team members from other departments. This may help them adapt to additional changes during the project completion process, which can improve their productivity.

  • Increases employee engagement: Combining teams from different departments can help employees form relationships with their colleagues. This engagement may also enhance their productivity and encourage them to produce higher quality work.

  • Enhances insights: When teams share data, it can help them accurately understand the project and how it's progressing. This can enhance their insights, which may help them make informed business, project and operational decisions.

  • Improves communication: When various departments work on a cross-functional collaborative project, they're more likely to interact with each other consistently. The increased level of engagement between the departments can improve overall communication at a company, which may reduce miscommunication.

  • Supports diversity: Diversity is important because it helps a team access a variety of skills, knowledge and expertise from a range of departments and backgrounds. This can help cross-functional collaborative team members learn from each other's strengths and learn new skills.

  • Accelerates delivery speed: Cross-functional collaboration is beneficial because it can increase the speed at which teams provide their deliverables to stakeholders and clients. When a team includes multiple groups, it may expedite the project completion process, meaning employees can finish their work on time.

  • Boosts customer engagement: Depending on the type of project you're leading, you might create a cross-functional collaborative team focused on customers and their needs. This can help employees implement changes based on customer feedback quickly and effectively.

Related: What Is Customer Engagement? Definition and 4 Engagement Strategies To Implement Today

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3 cross-functional collaboration examples

Here are three cross-functional collaboration examples you can review:

1. Cross-functional collaboration at a clothing store

A luxury clothing boutique partners with a popular musical artist with the goal of increasing revenue and driving more traffic to its online store. To accomplish this goal, the company's executive team organizes a cross-functional collaborative team that includes the communications, marketing, advertising and client relations teams. Each team performs the necessary duties to achieve the overall objective:

  • Communicating with team members: The communications team is responsible for managing all of the communication efforts, creating the materials and writing emails to ensure that each team is aware of the new project, what their role is and how the project is progressing.

  • Marketing: The marketing team manages all the marketing efforts and determines what marketing strategies work best to reach new paying customers.

  • Advertising: The advertising team helps to determine the advertising budget and then decides what types of advertisements to create, such as television advertisements or social media posts.

  • Managing client relations: The client relations team is responsible for the direct communications between the company and musician's team, ensuring that all contracts and legal obligations reach their conclusion successfully.

Related: How To Develop and Maintain Positive Client Relationships

2. Cross-functional collaboration at a food company

A cookie company sells five different cookie flavors and has done so for the past 10 years. While sales are consistent, the company plans to increase them by reaching out to new customers. In order to drive traffic and grow its customer base, the company decides it's going to offer five new cookie flavors. To execute this initiative successfully, it gathers a cross-functional collaborative team that includes the product development, communications, marketing and policy teams. Each team performs their assigned duties:

  • Designing the new cookies: The product development team designs and creates the new cookie flavors, using the feedback they receive from customers to adjust the flavors until they're satisfactory to the test groups.

  • Updating team members: The communications team handles the written communication efforts to keep every department up to date about what's going on in the project, including the deadlines, budgets and other critical information.

  • Marketing: The marketing team develops and implements a new marketing campaign to reach as many people, such as through newsletters, infomercials or promos.

  • Checking the product for compliance: Since food products often follow food safety regulations, the policy team can help to make sure that the product adheres to those regulations at all stages of the process.

3. Cross-functional collaboration at a tech company

A technology company that produces a variety of electronics, like phones and tablets, wants to create a new mobile device that's not yet available on the market. Since there's no current object it can reference for inspiration, the company organizes a cross-functional collaborative team to bring together the most talented and innovative members from within the company. The team members work together to accomplish the following duties:

  • Managing the project: The project manager leads the project from start to finish, ensuring everyone fulfills their duties.

  • Developing applications: The mobile application developers work together to build a device once the framework is ready for review and construction.

  • Designing the device: The innovation team may join the group to help determine and create the overall design and functional capabilities of the new mobile device the team is creating.

  • Learning how to use the product: Sometimes, product owners join the team to become the SMEs on the product, ensuring they know how it works completely.

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