Closing the Gap: Building a Stronger Bridge Between Departments on Campus

August 9, 2018 Chris Chilcote

Recently I attended the CASE Marketing & Branding conference for higher education to speak with Higher Ed professionals from around the country. While soaking up all of the fresh ideas circulating around Higher Ed marketing, I connected with Enrollment, Admissions and MarCom folks alike. Each conversation was unique, but I noticed some overlapping concerns for many institutions, big and small. One such issue (likely not a shock to anyone in higher education): the silos that exist on campus.

Cross-department communication remains a challenge for most institutions, understandably. Each department is tasked with different initiatives, has limited resources and often sits in a far away building on campus. But there is a systematic way to narrow this gap (especially between Marketing/Communications and Admissions/Enrollment) and properly set each other up for success.


1. Share Goals

Success is undoubtedly linked directly to setting goals. When individuals and teams collaborate to set goals, they create an environment where everyone is striving to be their best. Goals, if done correctly, will provide a clear focus and direction, signal when things are off track, and measure progress. Sharing goals across departments not only allows for an understanding of why things are being done a certain way but can also churn up solutions and ideas from others outside of your team.


2. Share Available Resources

Most institutions have a tight belt when it comes to resources. Departments are often asked to do more with less, making it vital for departments to collaborate and fully utilize each other. Resources that departments can share with each other for mutual benefit include data, creative assets, expertise, skills, and connections.


3. Share Strategic Plans

Goals allow teams to better understand the desired result or destination, while a strategic plan shows the way to get there. Sharing these strategic plans allows teams/departments working together to better understand what actions will be taken to meet the goal, and often times can offer chances to piggyback on strategies and tactics.


4. Create Swimlanes

Many multi-department organizations use swimlanes to visualize cooperative processes. In a swimlane diagram, processes are split into distinct channels based on responsibility and ownership. This allows each person/team/department to quickly and easily see what they’re required to accomplish. Developing swim lanes will clearly communicate to everyone who is doing what and when in the process they will need to contribute.


5. Establish Milestone Meetings

Some teams have done the setup work to set goals, build a strategic plan, and execute action items. But now what? A month goes by without any updates on how things are going. It is important to set up milestone meetings to communicate the status of working campaigns and projects. A good cadence and frequency of check-in meetings aligned with milestones or checkpoints allow for flexibility and agility. Too often the “set it and forget it” method is used. It can be better to ask “what can we be doing different” rather than “what could we have done differently.”


6. Discuss Wins & Losses

Sharing results can really help weed out ideas that may or may not work, or make good ideas even better. At the end of a campaign or project, take the time to have all those involved sit down to evaluate the success of the project. Were goals fulfilled? Were deadlines met? Where were the pain points discovered? Utilize the group to think of ways that future efforts could be improved. This will not only provide insights on future planning but should make the next round of planning easier and smoother.

Cross-department communication is a challenge faced by countless institutions. Establishing systems to fully understand direction and purpose as well as defining ways to help each other are key for success.

At Mogo, we understand your challenges in higher education and are here to help–shoot us an email at