How To Use Organizational Design in Professional Services

byRachel Steininger

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In the people-reliant, time-for-money landscape of professional services, having an outcome-driven organizational design strategy can make all the difference in achieving business growth and success. 

Whether you're a solopreneur or leading a small team, understanding how to structure your organization effectively is crucial. 

This blog post will guide you through the process of creating an impactful organizational design. We'll explore the concept of organizational design, explore the key components of an org chart, and learn how to optimize your organizational  structure for maximum results. 

What is Organizational Design?

Organizational design refers to the alignment of your company's structure with its objectives to achieve maximum results. 

In plain English, it means to synch up the people and process of your business so that the right people are in the right seats.  And that includes you as the business owner.  

Strategically, you’ll organize and integrate various elements such as roles, responsibilities, processes, and reporting relationships. Then, through tools like the org chart and process maps, you'll be able to optimize workflows, enhance productivity, and identify and implement clear action items to improve outcomes.

what is organizational design - definition

Primary Tools of Organizational Design

One of the primary tools in organizational design is the org chart. This visual representation of your company's structure depicts roles, reporting lines, and the flow of information. It provides a clear overview of how your organization operates and helps identify areas for improvement and growth. 

The Power of An Org Chart In Professional Services

To illustrate the transformative power of organizational design, let's explore the journey of Jim, the owner of a video editing company. 

Jim found himself overwhelmed and getting stuck at a certain level of revenue due to his involvement in various roles and tasks. His assumption was that he needed to become more productive and/or uplevel his leadership skills. 

Note that Jim isn’t uncommon in thinking this way.  The problem is that it leads to owners feeling down on themselves, their business opportunity, or their people without having a clear action plan to fix it.

The org chart, however, made it clear for Jim that the issue was not with the people, but with the structure of those people.  For him personally, he was trying to operate in too many “verticals” (the major business functions) while also being involved in every “horizontal” (the layers of responsibility).  

In other words, he’d made himself a bottleneck.  And so it was no wonder he felt the pressure of it all in his business day-to-day.

The great news though… this was a fixable, actionable problem that Jim could tackle with little to no effort or expense.  He made some minor edits to restructure his company, successfully delegating responsibilities, and strategically placing his specialists and himself in roles that aligned with ideal business processes.  

In doing so, he added efficiency to their client fulfillment processes, reducing the time and iterations for successfully delivering a client project. These moves also allowed him to focus where he wanted to be and could best deliver results… areas like sales, leveraging his network, and driving innovative engagements and business growth. 

But it took the impact of a picture - the org chart - to see where those fundamental adjustments needed to be made.

Getting Started With An Organizational Chart

Let's delve into some key aspects of an org chart so you can practice and get the benefits of organizational design in your own professional services business.

Start with the Functional Headers

To create a comprehensive org chart, we start with three main functional headers (the “verticals”) that align with your business' specific needs. Think of these headers kind of like the departments that might exist in a larger company.  

For example, in professional services, these headers could be "Sales and Marketing," "Client Fulfillment and Relationship Management," and "Essential Operations."

Note that we can add more headers or “verticals” to our org chart, but I recommend keeping it simple to start.

3 functions for every org chart and how to optimize it
Sales and Marketing

This section encompasses activities aimed at generating revenue for your business. Ask yourself who is responsible for lead generation and lead conversion. Consider the tasks and areas of expertise required within this function, such as social media management, content creation, and lead nurturing.

Client Fulfillment and Relationship Management

Here, focus on delivering exceptional service to your clients.  Here you're looking to optimize workflows for effective delivery, promoting more repeat business, referrals, and recommendations. 

Identify the tasks and expertise needed to provide exceptional client fulfillment, such as project management, coordination, and quality assurance.  This will open up opportunity to create a specialist vs generalist approach by dividing up functions within these processed. 

Essential Operations

Essential operations include the core functions necessary for your business to survive and thrive. These functions encompass financial management, HR management, office management, and strategic planning.

Improve Your Organizational Design

Now that we've outlined the key elements of an org chart, let's explore how you can optimize your organizational design to drive business growth and scalability.

1. Identify Your Current Organizational Structure:

Start by mapping out your current organization's structure. Create an org chart, including yourself and any team members you have. 

This exercise will help you visualize the roles and responsibilities within your organization and identify gaps that need to be filled as you grow.

Drop people into the roles and responsibilities that fit underneath the functional headers.  In some cases, you may find them in multiple roles.  And I can almost guarantee you’ll find that for yourself.

2. Create Your Ideal Org Chart:

Consider your future goals and growth projections to create an ideal org chart. Envision what your organization will look like in three years and map out the roles and responsibilities required to support those goals. 

This is best done in coordination with a look at your ideal business processes as functions should be built for repeatability, not for the staff you have employed at any given time.

This exercise will help you identify short and long term staffing needs and potential positions that need to be filled to achieve your growth objectives.

3. Reflect on Your Strengths:

Take a moment to reflect on your strengths and areas of expertise. Determine which positions you want to continue working in, as this will help shape your organizational design. 

4 steps to optimize your org chart (from article)

By focusing on roles that align with your strengths, you can lead your organization more effectively and leverage your expertise for maximum impact.

4. Fill the Gaps:

Identify the roles that need to be filled within your organization by considering specialized expertise and areas where you may need additional support. 

Whether hiring internally or outsourcing, filling these gaps will ensure your business functions smoothly and efficiently.

5. Implement a Bench:

As your team grows, establish a bench of individuals who can step into various roles when needed. This not only ensures continuity but also enables you to scale your business with confidence. 

By having a qualified backup for each position, you can reduce dependency on individual team members and promote a collaborative work environment.

Leveraging For Growth

Crafting an effective organizational strategy is paramount to driving business growth in professional services. 

By leveraging organizational design, starting with a map of your current and ideal org chart, you can set up yourself and your professional service business for a more streamlined approach as well as ready it for business opportunities coming your way.

Your organizational design will evolve as your business evolves. Investing time and effort into creating an impactful org chart and organizational strategy will pay off in the long run, making it easier to steer your business towards success and fulfillment of your goals.

in block letters: organizational design for your service business
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