“Synergy is better than my way or your way. It’s our way.” — Stephen Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, state and local government leaders will be pressured to continue funding emergency measures for their communities. Right now, it’s crucial for governments to have control of their budgets. To ensure leaders have the information necessary to make important decisions, budget teams need to be working as effectively as possible. However, the pandemic’s disruption has forced most teams to work remotely, making collaboration and communication difficult during the budgeting process. The team synergy that is required to maximize group success can be compromised without effective collaboration. How can you create this synergy for your remote budget team?
What is synergy?
Synergy is the effective collaboration between team members united by a common goal – and that results in a better outcome than if each member had worked separately. The ability for staff to collaborate is an attribute important for the productivity and success of any business. In this regard, collaboration is essential for government budgeting processes to be successful and requires this form of teamwork to accomplish the goal of preparing budgets that meet the needs of the community. Budget collaboration becomes even more important during a crisis when leaders need to respond quickly to help citizens.
The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing government staff to work from home for an indefinite period. Staff no longer have the luxury of face-to-face communication or the ability to interact in a manner that can drive the success of a people-centric process like budgeting. According to Buffer’s 2020 State of Remote Work report, the biggest issue remote workers struggle with is communication and collaboration. In order to optimize what your budget team can achieve, it is best to understand the components that can create synergy within a remote budgeting team.
How to create synergy within your remote budgeting team
Remote budgeting requires a working environment that will drive the success of the team, including:
Foster a safe space for your budget team
Research shows that psychological safety is a key component of collaboration. In a working environment that relies solely on online interaction, email or phone calls, misunderstandings can easily occur. By fostering a group culture where practices such as sharing ideas, airing grievances and making mistakes are seen positively, you will create a safe space for your budget team. The more a team member feels safe, the more likely they will engage others and participate in the group.
Establish the rules of engagement
Remote work becomes more efficient and satisfying when a budget team has a set of expectations to follow. Discuss with the budget team how they should collaborate: for example, what are the deadlines for submissions? The office hours team members are expected to be reachable? Clarify what types of communications they should use (e.g., email for anything non-urgent, phone calls for priority discussions), and a framework for objective feedback and conﬂict resolution.
Promoting transparency will help build trust and better communication between budget team members working remotely. All team members participating in the budgeting process should have access to the same important data, documentation, schedules, and policies. When the budget team has the same information, they will be in a better position to understand how the budget is being developed and clearly communicate with each other during the budgeting process.
Use collaborative tools for remote budgeting
The budgeting process was challenging before COVID-19 forced budget teams to work from home. Remote budgeting presents new problems like the lack of ability to see and share information, and communicate with other team members effectively. To improve productivity, enhance communication and encourage teamwork, cloud-based budgeting tools can help budget teams come together in an online environment and work collaboratively to complete the budgeting process.
Questica Budget brings remote budget teams together
When budget teams can work collaboratively, they can be unified in their effort to prepare budgets that help government leaders make data-driven decisions. Questica Budget provides a cloud-based budgeting solution that enables teams to develop budgets, plus increase data accuracy and save time. Communication is also enhanced when the budget team can view all of the budget data in one place, use an automated change request system and leave detailed notes about changes to the budget. They can also easily create reports, calculations or what-if scenarios for planning the next phase of emergency funding. By providing a collaborative online environment for budgeting, Questica Budget supports this important people-centric process and helps to create synergy within your remote budget team.
To learn more about the Questica Budget Suite of software solutions for budgeting and transparency, read one of our blogs or white papers, take a product tour or sign-up for one of our free monthly informational webinars.