Organizational silo’s effect on projects

Recently, I just started my position as a Strategic Analyst with a focus on process improvement at a major pharmaceutical company.  Prior to the new role, I had worked as a Consultant for various clients across all industries.   Project acceptance is much more difficult in the consulting world since the client is unfamiliar with your experiences and expertise.  Once accepted, I believe the consulting project is much easier to manage since you have a key client sponsor at the executive level that aligns all the parties.  Working in industry now, I have noticed that it is much more difficult to align key decision makers at my current company.  A multitude of projects is conceived throughout the group and cutting through the political tape to get individuals to participate can be difficult.  Currently, I am working on a project that will create more accurate and reliable inventory reporting across all 200+ affiliates and plants.  My current project team is composed of IT, supply chain individuals, plant and affiliate personnel, and myself.  It is over 20+ people that are involved in the project.  One of the major roadblocks right now is the functional silos that have been created throughout the organization.  For example, each plant does not want to share too much information because they feel it will put them at risk with another plant and/or questions will surface.   They do not think in terms of “one company for all”.  Each has their own respective KPI’s that must be met in order to drive business performance.  This makes them very protective of their domain and reluctant to new process developments.  My first encounter with this silo mentality was when I had visited a plant and was immediately asked the purpose of my visit.  It became very apparent to me that affecting their silo mentality would be the biggest obstacle to my project success.   Immediately, I brought the concerns to my manager to get more senior level support in driving this project forward.  As a consultant, I only faced some resistance to change from client staff but we always had the right client sponsor support to break down some organizational barriers.  Within a week I had the necessary director level sponsorship that allowed me access to more information from the plants.  However, I did not want to be known as the “corporate guy” to these plants and affiliates so I took the initiative to build relations with them by providing them with information on project intentions and new developments to put them at ease.  By letting them know that I was trying to improve processes to drive the business forward in the right direction I was able to gain some allegiance.  Working closely with them and having the necessary sponsorship has sped up the progress of my project.  Project improvements involve organizational change and the proper steps must be taken to complete deliverables on time especially when silos exist.

4 thoughts on “Organizational silo’s effect on projects

  1. Organizational silos is something that we are faced with in my organization. In my experience, I have come across many of the examples where different parts of the organization are just not talking. It is not because they are not willing to share the information, but more that there is no format to do so. Currently, I am working on a project that touches several parts of our organization. Prior to the official project kick-off, I came across several examples where several people are working on the same thing, but they just didn’t know that they were doing so. When thinking about the impact on the organization, working in silos can be very costly plus time consuming. It is critical for organization to have both vertical and horizontal flow of information amongst different lines of business.

  2. That’s a rough culture shift Maks! My organization is super siloed. It’s a constant battle when implementing any project or initiative across departments. We have a lot of shared holder’s meetings to kick anything of that sort off. We also do an excess of info sessions so everyone feels in the loops and we find this leads to slightly less resistance. Good luck to you!

  3. Maks. I see where you’re coming from with the sort of “door in the face” response you recieved from plant managers in your first interaction. A lot of times, companies want to make sure to keep a low profile of their operations because, as you know, that is an asset to them that can be replicated. Why don’t they want it replicated though? Well, again it comes down to free markets and competition. Companies with a set operations team strategy tend to keep their strategy under the covers to keep safe from potential competitors mimicking and tking advantage of. Due to all these reflective perspectives, its concievable that they may not realize you are there to help, and not disrupt their flows of operation, or let alone, steal their respective operation plans.

    Best of Luck!

  4. All of the comments are definitely interesting, if a company’s line of work is strongly built off proprietary equipment then I can definitely see how a company would be more door in the fact. Recently at the company I am working at, an investment management consulting firm, I created a proprietary database to which I certainly would not want our competitors to be aware of. Especially if I know a strategic analyst is going to meet with firms which compete with ours. It really does come down to we are a free market, competition is stiff, and it is important to maintain an edge on your competitors. However, if companies fail to improve their processes they can fall behind and not utilizing a strategic analyst will absolutely hurt the company in the long-run.

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