A medium-sized business had doubled in size and was experiencing coordination problems and missing project delivery dates. Functions within the organisation were fighting over decision rights yet elements of the critical path were missing.
A comprehensive review of the organisation was undertaken that involved combining analytics with qualitative techniques to get a clear understanding of structural issues that would then enable the design of practical solutions. The review included:
• Deep analysis of organisational structure including spans of control and hierarchical layers
• Review of reporting structures and decision flows
• Evaluation of roles combining reviews of job titles and position descriptions
• Targeted interviews with key roles to understand the real issues from the worker perspective
• Activity and process analysis and modelling
The review highlighted a number of issues including clear divisional silos, top heavy management, too many organisational layers and a distinct lack of role clarity, all of which was magnified by a complex operating model. These factors were slowing down the company’s agility and causing a deterioration in the quality of output.
Managers felt that they spent far too much time focusing on responding to requests for information and managing power struggles across the silos instead of managing their teams. On the ground workers felt the implications of this too, citing frustration with spending a large proportion of their time waiting for direction because they did not have decision rights properly set. Additionally the roles themselves were poorly designed with the key capabilities required by the organisation not understood, resulting in duplication of roles across the organisation, with some tasks not being performed at all. There was no formal internal mobility process, leaving workers feeling trapped in their current organisation unit with no career path. Finally, spans of managerial control were diverse with many operational areas having only 1 or 2 direct reports, and one instance of a single manager having over 100 direct reports!
The breadth and depth of the issues meant a range of solutions were needed. The first was a complete structural overhaul aimed at reducing organisational layers, streamlining the management spans of control, and aligning to a project-delivery based design. The next step was to centralise certain resource groups to provide maximum efficiency, reduce costs and provide centres of excellence to support the organisation. Finally, standardisation of job descriptions and titles coupled with the definition of a key set of job families within the organisation created a common taxonomy and led to a plan for the development of a capability framework to be supported by various HR programs, including the recruitment model and reward framework.
The overall result for the organisation meant a more efficient, simpler and flexible organisation that could dynamically match resources to projects as needed.