In this blog post, we will show you the benefits and steps to align two important tools and processes, your organizational design and your job architecture. By outlining the intersections, we hope to clarify that you can catch two birds with one stone: save large amounts of time and improve both outcomes. Either of them creates a more effective and efficient organization that can better adapt to changing needs and demands. Both of them together will get you much further.
Definition and Differences between Organizational Design and Job Architecture
Organizational design and job architecture are two concepts that are closely related and essential for HR and strategic managers. But what do they mean and why should we look at them simultaneously?
Organizational design is the process of developing and implementing the most effective structure and systems within an organization. The objective is to find the best structure to support the overall business strategy. It involves aligning tangible and intangible assets, the organization’s vision, mission, values, culture, strategy, processes, roles, and responsibilities to achieve its goals.
Job architecture serves as the foundation for managing and organizing people within an organization. It encompasses elements such as creating a job catalog, aligning jobs with functions and levels, generating job descriptions, mapping people to the roles, and establishing pay structures.
The difference between the two lies in the scope. Organizational design involves all assets of a company meanwhile a job architecture is limited to roles and people.
Despite the difference, organizational design and job architecture are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. A well-designed organization needs a clear, consistent job architecture to support its structure and systems. Likewise, a robust job architecture needs a coherent organizational design to enable its implementation and maintenance.
The Benefits of Aligning Organizational Design and Job Architecture
The benefits of aligning both are numerous and significant. Organizations that have succeeded in creating an alignment report higher levels of performance, efficiency, innovation, employee engagement, and talent attraction than those that have not.
However, synchronization needs attention. The strategic intent of both needs to be the same, both need to be built on the same set of structured data, they should be built with the same design principles, and should be aligned in evaluation criteria and monitoring mechanisms.
Job architecture is the foundation of organizational design. It provides a clear and consistent framework for defining, organizing, and managing the roles and responsibilities within an organization. It helps to answer questions such as:
- What are the different jobs in the organization and how are they related?
- What are the main functions and levels in the organization?
- How is each job and each unit related to the value chain?
- What are the skills, competencies, and qualifications required for each job?
- How do roles interact with each other and where does collaboration need to happen?
It becomes quickly apparent that the answers to these questions are foundational building blocks of successful organizational design. If you create a job architecture first (or design both of them simultaneously), you will improve the process and the outcomes of your organizational design.
You gain clarity. A job architecture creates a common language and understanding of the roles and responsibilities in your organization. It reduces ambiguity and confusion and ensures that everyone knows why specific jobs exist and how they contribute to the organizational goals. That’s fundamental knowledge for designing an effective organization.
You create consistency. A job architecture ensures that the roles and responsibilities are defined and organized in a logical and coherent way across your organization. It eliminates duplication, overlap, and unnecessary organizational “noise”. It creates reliable pillars for organization design.
You raise flexibility. A job architecture creates a modular and adaptable structure. It enables your organization to respond to changing needs and demands. It also allows for easier creation, modification, or movement of jobs across functions and levels. All are essential for the organizational design process.
You improve efficiency. A job architecture improves the efficiency of your organizational design process by providing a ready-made framework as a starting point. If the job architecture is well-designed, you don’t have to collect additional data, check consistency, or worry about completeness.
You raise quality. A job architecture improves the quality of the organizational design outcomes by ensuring that the roles and responsibilities are aligned with the strategy and vision of the organization.
You foster innovation. Job architecture helps to foster innovation by creating a culture of learning and collaboration. It encourages employees to develop new skills and qualifications with a view to performing better in future roles. This reduces the need to redesign the organizational structure in short intervals.
As you can see, aligning your organizational design and job architecture practices brings many benefits to your organization. But how do you go about doing it?
Steps to Align Organizational Design and Job Architecture
Aligning your organizational design and job architecture is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process of constant monitoring and adjustment that overall will save you considerable time and improve your results. However, there are some steps that you can follow to guide you through this process. In any case, all these steps have to be taken both for organizational and job architecture design:
Assess the current state: The first step is to understand the current state of your organization. Vision, values, and culture are needed for organizational design but not necessarily for job architectures. But data on strategy, structure, processes, roles, responsibilities, skills, competencies, qualifications, and compensation are needed for both. If you build a job architecture first, you can build on the same (already structured) data for your organizational design.
Define the strategic intent: In the next step, you need to clarify your goals and objectives, your value proposition, your competitive advantage, and your desired outcomes. In other words, your strategic intent. It flows as much into the organizational design as into job architecture design processes.
Develop design options: The third step is to develop design options. You need to explore different ways of organizing and managing your roles and responsibilities for them to support your strategy effectively. You can use various tools and methods, such as organizational charts, job catalogs, job maps, job descriptions, etc., to create and visualize your design options. Nearly all of them are outputs of the job architecture design process.
Evaluate and select a design: The fourth step is to evaluate and select a design. You need to compare and contrast your design options based on various criteria, such as alignment with strategy, feasibility, effectiveness, efficiency, innovation, quality, engagement, etc. You also need to involve and consult with all stakeholders and get their feedback and buy-in.
Implement and monitor the design: You need to plan and execute the changes required to transition from your current state to your desired state. You also need to measure and track the results of your changes and evaluate their impact on your organization’s performance and effectiveness.
These steps are not necessarily sequential or linear. They can be iterative or cyclical depending on the situation. For example, you may need to go back and forth between developing design options and evaluating and selecting a design until you find the best fit. Or you may need to revisit and revise your strategic intent or your current state assessment as you learn more from implementing and monitoring the design.
The Challenges of Aligning Organizational Design and Job Architecture
Aligning your organizational design and job architecture also poses some challenges along the way.
First of all, data may be lacking or inaccurate, or outdated for assessing the current state or evaluating the design options, or measuring the results of the change. Then there might be resistance to changing roles, and responsibilities or adapting to new structures and systems. And there is also a risk of communication breakdown between different levels or functions or teams in the organization due to different expectations or assumptions or preferences.
These challenges will appear no matter if you embark on an organizational or job architecture design project. If you combine the two processes, you will only face these challenges once.
Organizational design and job architecture are closely related. The second process will be much quicker if you create a job architecture before embarking on organizational design. It will also produce better outcomes in the form of an organizational design that supports the business strategy even better than before. It will also improve collaboration between HR and Strategy Managers because they pursue the same objectives and use the same data. This circles back into both processes.
The final outcome of the alignment is improved organizational efficiency, quality, innovation, and employee engagement. There are hardly any downsides, you only have to align two processes that you will carry out anyhow. You don’t even need to make any investment. There is literally no downside and only benefits. Why wouldn’t you decide to align your organizational and job architecture design next time you’re on it?