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How To Develop An Effective Organization Structure

By Michael VanBruaene, Big4.com Guest Blogger  Gears interlocking

Organization structure, which is the arranging of work activities, is a means to achieving organization objectives.  There is no inherently right or wrong structure, and it’s not a question of flat versus hierarchical.  The focus should be on what works best and results in effective and efficient work processes and the quality of services or products you want to produce and deliver.

Also, structures, work processes and tasks are not permanent and will, and should, change as circumstances and needs change.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or considering some form of reorganization, these questions should be addressed.

Objectives.  What are we trying to accomplish, what are our objectives?

Processes and tasks.  What are, or should be, our work processes and related tasks to achieve our objectives?

  • And how should these processes and tasks be grouped together, combined or kept separate?
  • What is the level of required teamwork and/or coordination for these processes and tasks?

Positions.  How should the work tasks be grouped together to create a work position(s) for the work process?

  • How many positions do we need to conduct these processes and tasks?

Oversight and decision-making. What is the nature of supervision/direction required and/or decision-making embodied in the position?

Coordination. What is the required level(s) of coordination with other positions, and how should that be accomplished in the most efficient and effective way?

  • To what extent can these requirements be met via peer meetings, information systems and reporting, assigning these actions to a specific position that may or may not be at a higher level than other positions related to the work processes and tasks?

Position skills and background.  What are the required skills and background for these procedures and tasks to be effective and efficient? 

Additional Considerations

Number of direct reports. The number of employees reporting directly to any one managerial position will depend primarily on the nature of the work performed.  Routine and repetitive work normally allows for more direct reports than work requiring a substantial amount of analysis addressing many variables.

Position description specificity.  Specify as little as possible as to how tasks combine into positions (jobs) and work units; and how people are to interact within and between work units.  In a dynamic and viable organization technologies and processes continually change, requiring employees to learn, adapt and change. If position descriptions are too detailed there may be rigidity in cooperation and communication, as well as employee ability to change.  The focus of position descriptions should be on the desired output, i.e. that which is to be delivered internally and externally.

Organizational home is important. All employees should have an organization homebase such as a work group or division/department. The homebase should have a position (sometimes more than one position, but hopefully no than two) at a higher level than the employee that is knowledgeable about the work performed by the employee so that there is effective performance evaluations and professional development guidance; also someone to whom the employee can go if there are work place challenges to be addressed.

Michael VanBruaene was a KPMG Director and blogs at  Michael VanBruaene – Working With CEO’s And Executives To Improve Their Organizations.  (www.AdvancingYourOrganization.com). He can be contacted at mvanbruaene@pacbell.net.

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