Can/Do different departments work together?


Or are they isolated, where developers keep to themselves and sales people keep to themselves?

Is there a need for developers to even collaborate with sales or marketing people, for example? Im asking this as im not sure how to organise my startup. so i need to know how things work because i have never been in a work environment.

Also when having meeting are they company wide or just between departments?

Getting Started Team

asked Feb 10 '12 at 22:00
I Scotts
152 points

4 Answers


So many companies seem to be organised specifically to create internal silos and barriers between the innards of the organisation and customers. This is a long-lasting hangover from the production line manufacturing party of last century.

How should you be organised? The way that works best for the customer .

Now, when I call Customer Service, I'm calling the organization. I expect to speak to someone who understands me as a customer, who knows the ins and outs of the company and who wants to get me the service I need smoothly.

In a start-up, guess what? Everyone's in Customer Service. So whatever you do, don't create a culture where nobody knows anyone else's business. In fact, don't create a culture where anyone thinks anything is (only) their business.

Sometimes, different roles have different needs. Developers may want quiet to concentrate, while sales people want hubbub. So be aware of those needs... but also be careful not to confuse what people ask for with what works. Because by default, people (if asked) will likely ask for what they think everyone does - create little self-contained bubbles within the organization that, over time, will occupy different rooms, different floors, different buildings even.

I have one specific recommendation for you. While you're small, at the very least have a weekly stand-up, 15 minutes max, for the whole team to say what they've been doing, what they're currently focused on and any roadblocks. That small commitment of time will help stem silo thinking, and help you develop an environment where even when roles may be highly distinct, everyone sees the connections.

answered Feb 11 '12 at 00:08
Jeremy Parsons
5,197 points
  • I spent ages on a reply, then got distracted by a, err, meeting, meanwhile, Jeremy covered most of what I was going to say :) – Nick Stevens 12 years ago
  • Thanks for taking the time to explain.. I understand and what our saying makes sense . – I Scotts 12 years ago
  • @nick I have whole weeks like that :) – Jeremy Parsons 12 years ago


Your company, your rules, you know. If you don't make your rules, work at McDonald's because you fail your CEO job already. Organizing a business is one of the things a founder has to do - or get an angel that does that for you initially.

Your question makes no sense because there are no laws that govern that - it depends a lot on company culture and I have seen that go in every direction possible. Also exploding in turf wars even in small teams due to bad leadership.

Is there a need for developers to even collaborate with sales or marketing people, for example?

There is absolutely not - if you don't want the product to be what people buy, then by god, make sure they never talk to each other and developers never see how disgruntled customers are.

so I need to know how things work because I have never been in a work environment.

Shut down funny company, go work in a office environment for a year or two to see how things go. Or find a partner who knows. You sound like someone trying to run a restaurant without ever having been in one - world of pain coming.

Plus, how come you never did that? Are you a 15-year-old high school dropout? When I left my school I had held various summer jobs and worked a year apart time for an advertising agency. So, "never been in a work environment" is something that you should have fixed if you want to run a business even while in school.

answered Feb 10 '12 at 22:15
Net Tecture
11 points
  • I meant office work like this, i mean sure iv worked at a restaurant but that doesnt help with much.. – I Scotts 12 years ago
  • And I mean office works too. If all you can do is work at a restaurant, take an ovvice job for some months. Learn your basics. – Net Tecture 12 years ago


Disparity between departments cases waste, its a major problem for lots of large organisations. Sales people can sell something not technically feasible, provisioning spend hours weekly doing something that development could script in an afternoon (and suchlike)

As a start-up you can easily eliminate that waste by promoting some interdepartmental understanding.

Also when having meeting are they company wide or just between departments?

Both. A meeting should have a clearly defined scope. If the department is within that scope then they should attend, if not then not.
answered Feb 10 '12 at 23:02
Tom Squires
1,047 points
  • Thanks for the clarification.... – I Scotts 12 years ago


You can surely prohibit your departments from talking to each other. But will it solve any problems?

Just imagine an engineering department that builds a product the way they think it should work without the customer feedback collected by sales or customer support. Then add a CFO who sets budgets based on his understanding of costs and needs so that marketing and design departments are more conscious of their paper supplies than about the quality of their campaigns. How happy will this company be?

As for meetings, it depends on the topic. Some meetings can be just department, others must be company-wide (e.g., upcoming major changes in operations).

answered Feb 11 '12 at 00:10
1,963 points

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