Businesses use organizational structures to show a picture of the the chain-of-command and to help employees understand reporting relationships.
Large or small, every organization should operate with a defined organizational structure.
A well thought out and strategic business configuration clarifies reporting relationships and supports good communication.
This can result in an efficient and effective work process flow and can foster team development.
The board and senior leadership should be the group who determines the type of organizational structure.
The goal is to identify a structure that would best support the internal operations, how work is carried out and the chain-of-command.
Determine the best structure for your business by answering these questions:
- What are the functional groupings of work processes?
- Are there natural groupings of teams, work-groups, or units?
Senior leadership looks at all functions and determines how they would like work activities to be organized and carried out.
This process also identifies natural reporting relationships and chain-of-command.
Reporting relationships can be both vertical as well as horizontal.
5 Common Business Organizational Structures
1. Matrix Organizational Structure
A matrix structure provides for reporting levels both horizontally as well as vertically.
Employees may be part of a functional group (i.e. engineer) but may serve on a team that supports new product development (i.e. new album).
This kind of structure may have members of different groups working together to develop a new product line.
For example, a recording engineer who works for a music publisher, may have engineers who report to him but may also use his expertise and work with teams to develop new music albums.
The advantage of a matrix organizational structure is that employees have the responsibility not only for their department but for organizational projects.
A challenge with this type of structure presents itself when employees are given direction from two different managers and they need to prioritize their work responsibilities.
2. Functional Organizational Structure
Functional organizational structures are the most common.
A structure of this type groups individuals by specific functions performed.
For example, managers of different functional areas all report up to one director or vice president who has responsibility for all of the operational areas.
The advantage of this type of structure is that functions are separated by expertise but the challenges come in when different functional areas turn into silos that focus only on their area of responsibility and don’t support the function of other departments.
3. Product Organizational Structure
Another common structure is to be organized by a specific product type.
Each product group falls within the reporting structure of an executive and that person oversees everything related to that particular product line.
For example, an executive over Kraft products would be responsible for every product under that label – dressings, meats, sauces, etc.
The advantage of this type of structure is that it organizes products by category but can create completely separate processes from other product lines within the organization.
4. Customer Organizational Structure
Certain industries will organize by customer type.
This is done in an effort to ensure specific customer expectations are met by a customized service approach.
An example of this would be in healthcare.
A patient seen as an outpatient has very different needs than those of patients who spend time in the hospital as inpatients.
A customer-centered structure creates customized care for those patients.
The advantage of this type of structure is that it specializes in the needs of each customer group but can ignore the needs of different customer types.
5. Geographic Organizational Structure
For organizations that cover a span of geographic regions, it sometimes makes sense to organize by region.
This is done to better support logistical demands and differences in geographic customer needs.
Typically a structure that is organized by geographical regions reports up to a central oversight person.
You see this type of structure in companies that go beyond a city or state limit and may have customers all across the country or in multiple states.
Deliberate time and thought should go into the design of an organization’s structure.
This is important so employees have a visual of how the organization functions and understands the chain-of-command.
Operating within a defined structure, with good communication processes and work-flows, helps to ensure efficient management of resources – people, time, and money.
Does your organization have an organizational chart?