Describe your organization.
We’ve always worked in an organization of some sort, so you’d think we’d have this one down. But we don’t. Why is it so hard to describe, explain, justify, and otherwise sell our proposed organization to a client?
Sometimes the fault lies with the RFP. Sometimes it asks weird questions. Sometimes it asks sensible questions but in a weird order, like covering every possible organizational topic before asking to see the organization chart. (Hint for RFP writers: Get the picture first. Every time.)
But sometimes the fault lies with us: We don’t really know why we propose to organize the service-delivery team the way we’re, um, proposing to. Well, we know in some weird intuitive way, but we can’t explain it.
So, here’s an exercise to do outside of a proposal response period. Take an organization chart that you proposed to some client sometime, and figure out why you did it that way. Here are some factors to consider in articulating the what and the why.
Work departments/teams –
- Did you put all of one kind of worker together (for specialist training/mentoring, for work-sharing, for resilience in the face of absences, for access to key tools/equipment)?
- Or did you make multi-functional work groups (for cross-fertilization, for cross-training and eventual cost cutting, for comprehensive multi-disciplinary responses to problems, for higher work satisfaction and sense of ownership)?
Functional groupings – Look at your line of senior managers: Who manages what?
- Did you put each function under its own manager (for better focus, for specialized leadership, for appropriate span of control)?
- Or did you group functions that need to work well together (for enhanced collaboration, to avoid dysfunctional silos, to cut cost)?
- Or did you organize similar work or work with similar success factors into divisions (for example, all administrative work in one gaggle, all operational/field work in another)?
- Did you make a vertical organization with lots of approval layers and tight supervision (for quality control, for guaranteed adherence to some work/performance requirement, for clear accountability, to mirror the client’s organization, to give a new service area the management control it needs by limiting the scope for problems to metastasize)?
- Or did you make a flat organization (for faster response to client requests and/or to emergencies, for higher work satisfaction, to minimize supervisory costs in an environment where people pretty much already know what has to be done and where a problem in one area won’t disrupt the whole organization)?
- Did you make one workplace (for better coordination and communication, for sharing of expensive infrastructure and corporate resources, for organizational identity and camaraderie)?
- Or did you set up a distributed organization (to be adjacent to different client operations for familiarity with the work and for faster response times, to save time or money on some input cost)?
Source of staff –
- Did you go with in-house staff (for consistent performance, for lower cost, for an on-site and familiar service presence)?
- Or did you plan to hire subcontractors (for occasional specialty services requiring unusual certifications, for access to expensive equipment not needed day-to-day, to complete a high-visibility task quickly, to provide seasonal or surge coverage economically)?
- Or did you use a hybrid staffing model?
Staffing plan –
- Which functions use full-time staff (for consistent performance, for service reliability)?
- Which functions use part-time staff (for cost control, to meet predictable surges in workload economically)?
- Which functions use seasonal staff (to cover big workload swings through the year, to access specialized skills not needed year-round)?
RFP requirements – Not least, and never last . . .
- Did you align your organization with some specific RFP requirement, whether explicit (like watch-keeping or shift coverage) or implicit (a focus on quality or performance levels or safety)?
You’ve already got the picture. Now you just have to use your words.