One of the great advantages of being a consultant is that we get to experience the working culture of a wide range of organisations. From small businesses with 10-15 employees to large government and enterprise organisations with hundreds of thousands of employees. When the organisations are small it’s easier and faster to communicate with each other. CEO sits next to the receptionist and the rest of the team and decisions can be made faster. In some larger organisations, it can take several months to order stationary let along making significant financial and people decisions. When organisations grow, a better structure is required to allow scalability and management. The challenge is to figure out the right level of depth and breadth which maximises the efficiency of the organisation.
My current organisation has a relatively flat structure with minimum overheads. I can pick up the phone and speak with the CEO or the Managing Director anytime I like. The senior executives encourage direct communication. Decision making is easier. We have a 4 level hierarchy and with scale, it’s unlikely to change. Within the organisation, we have regularly changing teams. Teams are formed for every project which can span from 3-4 weeks to 4-12 months. Which each consultant is part of a functional area, the project team includes consultants from different functional areas. I prefer to have functional areas which allow an organisation to be efficient in knowledge sharing, collaboration, resource scheduling, and utilisation. The second order grouping which creates a cross-functional team is really important to break the silos and increased employee engagement. These project teams are then embedded with a team at the client site which includes people from many functional areas. Our consultants are highly adaptable less impacted by change as they experience change on a daily basis.
As the organisation grows, I see us expanding into many countries and development teams or consulting teams in each location. Technology plays a big part in this in the future to continue this relatively flat organisation structure. Currently, we use Microsoft Teams application to improve our collaboration within teams and also with our customers. At the start of each project, a Microsoft Team is created and the customer’s employees are invited to join the team to have increased visibility and transparency. While emailing hasn’t stopped just yet, it has reduced significantly over the last year. Technology allows us to break down the silos we have in the organisation and increase collaboration. In addition to the above functional areas, Sales, Marketing, HR, and Finance teams also need to be considered. For the scope of this discussion, I have intentionally excluded these areas.
Political and cultural aspects are also important in designing effective organisation and practices. The old mindsets of Sales vs Delivery, Development vs Quality Assurance needs to be broken. The organisational goals, vision, and objectives need to be communicated top-down and KPIs to be defined to support the defined goals, vision, and objectives.
Strategic design, political landscape, and culture need to be addressed with the attempts to redesign effective organisations and practices. I believe strong leadership team with a great vision and the ability to execute the vision is a must have a requirement when designing effective and successful organisations and practices.
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About the Author
Nadeeja Bomiriya is a Microsoft MVP, Chapter Lead – Dynamics 365 Saturday – Australia, Committee Member – Melbourne Dynamics 365 User Group, Technical Architect, and Dynamics 365 Practice Lead who lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Disclaimer: This blog post contains opinions of my own and not the views of my employer.