Overcoming roadblocks to collaboration

Overcoming roadblocks to collaboration

Understanding collaboration drag and why it hurts your business.

Overcoming roadblocks to collaboration

Understanding collaboration drag and why it hurts your business.

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Written by
Leah Retta
Leah Retta
Senior Content Marketing Manager
Leah Retta
Leah Retta

Any time a marketing leader identifies a problem that restricts execution and limits growth, it’s worth the effort to understand the problem — and to craft a game plan to solve it.

That’s why it caught our attention when consultancy Gartner recently wrote about the scourge of what they’ve dubbed “collaboration drag.” Below, read more about what collaboration drag is, how it hurts your business, and how marketers can address the problem with smarter processes and technology. 

What is collaboration drag?

Collaboration drag is in some ways a new term for an age-old problem facing marketing organizations. Simply put: the more complex a go-to-market motion is — with more people and processes required to complete it — the greater the risk of dysfunctional collaboration becomes. This can often rear its head with projects involving a company’s website and other initiatives that tend to involve stakeholders and contributors from across the organization.

A collaboration drag problem can be tricky to identify within an organization because it usually doesn’t represent a single, fatal bottleneck. Rather, it’s the cumulative effect of multiple handoffs, slow execution, cumbersome review and approval processes, as well as poor project visibility, accountability, and documentation. Taken together, these sap resources and stretch out project timelines.

If this phenomenon sounds familiar, you’re not alone: Gartner’s survey of CMOs revealed 79% of marketing leaders have reported that collaboration drag has limited at least one digital initiative within their organization today.

How does collaboration drag impact today’s marketing teams?

From budgets and timelines to operating rhythms and overall organizational success, collaboration drag can throw a real wrench into how marketing teams — and a company at large — execute high-impact work and deliver on business needs. Below, let’s explore a few of the challenges it presents for today’s companies. 

Financial consequences

For starters, collaboration drag has a direct and costly financial impact. When collaboration on a key initiative like a web project is consistently set back by processes, people, and budget, an organization simply accomplishes less. The previously cited Gartner study quantifies this impact: organizations with high collaboration drag are 37% less likely to exceed their revenue and profitability objectives.

Compromised timelines

Collaboration drag contributes to delayed execution. Every time teams are misaligned, timelines suffer. At best, this means projects are completed at a slower rate, but more likely it means that project budgets are affected, too. In our recent State of the Website report, we found that nearly half of marketing leaders are unable to complete website projects on time and within budget. 

Team flexibility and adaptability

Collaboration drag harms teams’ flexibility, too. The more cumbersome it is to collaborate across teams, the harder it is to quickly adapt and innovate to changing conditions or evolving requirements. For example, a company’s website represents not just its identity but also a crucial source of truth for information about its mission and offerings. As a result, maintaining a powerful, performant, and up-to-date website requires agility. When collaboration drag impacts a team’s ability to execute website projects, the trickle-down effect of lacking agility can become quite costly.

Influence, resourcing, and morale

All-in-all, the effects of collaboration drag — missed deadlines, exceeded budgets, inflexible execution — can take a significant toll on a marketing organization. This is because the marketing department’s perceived value within a company depends on its effectiveness, particularly with high-visibility and critical initiatives such as the website. When collaboration drag causes a project to stumble, it jeopardizes marketing leaders’ ability to secure resources and influence strategic decisions.

Finally, collaboration drag can wreak havoc on organizational morale. Beyond the measurable business costs, there’s also the reality of how missed targets, poor execution, and diminished influence impact team culture. Low morale represents another strategic risk to the organization, as it affects recruiting and retention in a competitive hiring environment, and this issue is just as important to curb as the aforementioned challenges.

How to combat collaboration drag

With the status quo today, it’s clear how detrimental issues with teamwork and collaboration have already become across companies of all sizes and industries — demanding a sense of urgency to solve this massive problem.

If this problem resonates with you and your organization, there are steps you can take today to start trending in the right direction. They start with smarter processes and better technology.

Develop smarter processes

The good news is that collaboration drag usually isn’t the result of a massive technology failure. Instead, the opportunity to improve rests upon teams’ adoption of new ways of working together. As Gartner puts it, what’s required is “a new form of collaboration that cascades productively across teams.” The following framework can help you chart a path toward future-proof processes that will lead you on a path toward success.

1. Identify your current bottlenecks

Improving collaboration begins with a clear-eyed accounting of the bottlenecks that exist within workflows and processes, so begin by documenting each workflow, surveying colleagues, and gathering feedback. Knowledge about what's broken is typically abundant within an organization once leaders know to seek out tough observations.

2. Document clear roles, goals, and success indicators

Introduce intentional change by explicitly articulating roles, goals, and KPIs. Remembering that what is measured can be managed, it’s important to develop new processes and objectives that can be quantified.

Examples of high-level goals marketing teams may want to define and tackle include: 

  • Generating site traffic growth
  • Improving the rate at which site visitors convert into customers
  • Scaling event programming with agility 

In tracking each one, remember to designate a source of accountability. Doing so will ensure everyone on a team will understand what’s working and what’s not, as well as measure and track progress toward improvement.

3. Enable greater autonomy

A major ingredient in successful process change is autonomy. It’s important to distinguish between important guardrails, which help everyone on a team clearly understand their responsibilities, and extraneous gatekeeping that just slows progress. Where it’s possible, look for opportunities to increase every collaborator’s ability to make meaningful, independent decisions, which improves morale and speeds accomplishment.

In particular, encourage experimentation. It’s entirely possible that an organization doesn’t discover the magic solution to every problem in its first iteration, so design processes that allow for trying new ways of working together and new opportunities to advance the team’s goals.

4. Take time to acknowledge the incremental wins

Don’t forget to celebrate your successes — no matter how large or small. Be intentional in designing accountability and feedback mechanisms that account for when an experiment does lead to improvement, a collaborator’s creativity shines, or a team meets its benchmarks. Developing improved processes isn’t easy work, so leaders should take the needed victory lap when their efforts bear fruit.

Invest in powerful tools that inherently enable collaboration

It’s rare to have a marketing initiative that doesn’t involve the company’s website. As a result, web-related work is often a victim of collaboration drag. With outdated ways of building for the web, it’s common for engineering and design teams to be a bottleneck for web projects, leaving marketing teams stuck waiting on them for any — or sometimes every — change. Fortunately, the right tools can remedy this pain and enable effective collaboration that can help your team execute at a faster rate than ever before.

Teams that build in Webflow are able to quickly ship state-of-the-art responsive web experiences without having to write any code. This empowers marketers to own more of the website and gives developers the time and freedom to work on higher-impact initiatives. 

Guardrails that give teams peace of mind

When reimagining the way today’s teams build for the web, IT teams and even marketing leaders often worry about “the website breaking,” With Webflow, however, teams can work better together, ship faster, and protect against unauthorized changes using purpose-built roles. Content editors can safely contribute content without changing page designs, and every member of an organization can be invited to leave feedback directly in the design tool using a free commenter-only role.

Additionally, to develop and publish web content more quickly, multiple designers can use page branching to work on different pages on the same site at the same time. Branch staging makes it possible to test new designs much faster, review custom code fully rendered, and catch issues earlier in the process — meaning faster execution, more experimentation, and greater flexibility.

Effective collaboration doesn’t require sacrificing security, either. Every step of the process, Webflow’s secure workflows, advanced roles and permissions, and activity logging bring direct visibility and clear accountability so that marketing teams can ship sites quickly and safely.

Yield tangible results with the right technology

With enhanced collaboration on website initiatives, marketing organizations can better achieve their goals. For starters, removing collaboration drag helps teams move quickly, so they can adapt to changing market conditions, launch at scale, and edge out the competition. This was a reality for the team at Oyster, who were able to increase their speed to market by 6x, the GrubHub marketing team that launched a new campaign for over 1.3 million visitors in just 7 weeks, and the Fivetran team, who launched 130 new web pages in under a year.

Perhaps best of all, improved collaboration can dramatically boost your bottom line. NCR saw a 10x savings in agency fees after switching to Webflow, Refokus generated more than $1M in revenue from new projects, and Fivetran saw a 26% improved conversion rate

Addressing collaboration drag yields positive, measurable outcomes, improving marketing teams’ performance, impact on revenue, and their overall influence.

Smarter execution is good for business

As we’ve seen, combatting collaboration drag is crucial—but it doesn’t have to be hard. With luck, the steps detailed above can represent a template for success, helping your team develop new ways to work together that collect and use feedback, facilitate experimentation, and reward success. We believe a major ingredient in this transformation is adopting modern tooling to build, ship, and manage websites without reliance on developers. Along with the right processes, modern web tools can unlock marketing teams’ full potential to meet customer needs and drive company success.

Webflow Enterprise helps marketing leaders make the most out of marketing technology investments, quickly execute on campaigns and experiments as a marketing team collaboratively, and drive growth and generate leads for the business in an efficient way. To learn more, get in touch with our team today. simple as getting in touch.

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The 2024 State of the Website

Discover key challenges today's marketing teams are facing, as well as opportunities for businesses in 2024.

Read the report
The 2024 State of the Website

Discover key challenges today's marketing teams are facing, as well as opportunities for businesses in 2024.

Read the report
Read the report
Last Updated
June 3, 2024
The 2024 State of the Website

Discover key challenges today's marketing teams are facing, as well as opportunities for businesses in 2024.

Read the report
Read the report