IT takes a village. No, that’s not a typo. The efforts to support the Information Technology in your organization takes a village.

I can’t think of a single IT project I’ve managed that hasn’t involved two or more cross-functional teams within the department. A relatively straightforward Windows Upgrade project, for example, might require not only your desktop support technicians, but also your end user device engineering team to create new images. Applications teams will need to be involved in developing and testing application installation packages. For devices or applications that require static or reserved IP addresses, your networking team might be involved. If the computers have a phone client such as Jabber, the telecom team may be needed.

More complex projects may require an even broader range of team members. During a recent project for an east coast healthcare system, we provided project management services for their ICU telehealth solution. The desktop support team installed additional monitors and computers in the centralized monitoring location. The networking team configured the cameras in each patient room to communicate with the computers in the monitoring center. The telecom team customized the phone trees for efficient communications between the floor nurses and the clinical staff in the monitoring location. Epic application analysts built and tested Epic Monitor for monitoring the patients remotely. Interface analysts built and tested interfaces for labs, medication administration, and biomedical monitoring. Beyond those groups, clinical and compliance teams from the organization also participated in the project.

In the “new normal” of many IT staff members working from home, the coordination between teams becomes even more critical. What used to be a quick hallway conversation or deskside discussion now needs to be replaced with other ways to ensure close collaboration.

So how does the IT manager or project manager ensure effective collaboration between teams? The answer is relatively simple. Just ask them what they need.

I’m going to assume that if you are managing a project or department, you already have, at a minimum, weekly team meetings. More frequent meetings, perhaps daily scrum meetings, can help streamline the communications. (But don’t schedule daily meetings on Fridays unless it’s necessary. Everyone could probably use a break from the meeting routine.)

Regardless of your meeting frequency, as soon as each person has provided their update on their activities, as them two simple questions:

1) What support do you need from the others on this call?
2) What support do you need from anyone not on this call?

Ask these questions on every single call. Once your staff becomes accustomed to these questions being asked each meeting, they’ll be prepared with answers. And once you have those answers, you’ll be able to identify exactly what collaboration is needed between your teams.