The way companies are organized can be a complex framework that ranges from their structure to the way in which functions and responsibilities are distributed. In order to define the scheme, questions such as what is the responsibility of which area? How should tasks be distributed? How does each department act? What are their specific needs?
But as with everything in life, there are different alternatives for organizational structures and at the end of the year, before thinking about which is the best tool for each area, we must take into account factors of greater background.
Ideally, you need to have a strategic plan when making these definitions. However, in general, companies evolve and that is where adjustments, changes or new directions are defined. James Hernandez, president and co-founder of TrustCorporate –A consultant on financial, legal, accounting, organizational matters– points out that, first of all, we must recognize the company as a community of people with a common goal. And since all communities are different, this means that there is no magic formula for organization that can be applied to all companies.
Once our community and its objectives have been recognized, it is important that in order to achieve the goals, everyone should row in the same direction. Therefore, it is necessary to implement a structure adapted to our current business situation. Now, companies can normally be divided into 3 large areas:
- Strategic Areas: They are the ones that establish the objectives that must be met and the guidelines to achieve them.
- Tactical Areas: They are the ones that create the concrete actions to comply with the previously defined strategic lines.
- Operational Areas: They are the team in charge of executing the actions developed at the tactical level.
But it is certainly not the only way to organize a business. For example, the Universidad Católica de Chile proposes various structures, such as the functional (management, finance, marketing and human resources, which may or may not be horizontal); the divisional, with the management at the head and below it some business, production, commercial and maintenance units; and the matriarchal, which proposes a general leadership at the head, with various directions working below, but at the same level with each other.
In each case, subdivisions can be found in each of these structure models, as well as a variety of specific positions and needs.
If you think about a company, some areas such as general management, finance, legal, operations, processes, communications or human resources (HR) may come to mind. But -although necessary- they are traditional signs. Today, new strategic areas and new positions are emerging; to cite an example, now there are electronic recruiting managers, which are the people in HR in charge of finding talent, but through digital processes and new technologies.
“The areas present in our company must be integrated by the functions and instruments that our community wants to have available. it is not a decision that should rest with one person and it is a process that should be constantly changing. The survival of companies depends on their evolutionary process and their adaptability to modify their structures depending on the objectives and needs of the client”.James Hernandez, president and co-founder of consultancy TrustCorporate.
What does a company need in its different areas?
There are infinite solutions to solve the needs of companies, there is one for each point, no matter how specific. In case it does not exist, or the options that exist do not fit, they can be developed to measure. Only in Colombia there is an extensive union, led by Fedesoft, which is dedicated to developing software (605 affiliated companies from all over the country, representing close to 50% of the total national software industry).
Before choosing a technology option, the first element to take into account is what need or challenge the company has and there to investigate if there are technological means to support the task, what alternatives there are and what kind of technological allies can be found.
To John Richard Martin, Head Cabling for the Andean region and Central America in Furukawa Electric Latam, it should be taken into account that when investing in technology “the latest advances and the most innovative equipment and software will always appear; however, they will not always be the most cost-effective when it comes to meeting my needs. That is where it will be key to define the available budget and not only see it at the Capex level (Capital Expenses) but also at the Opex level (Operating Expenses), and in the same way see the return on investment that the new implementation will bring“. And to that are added some factors:
- Scalability of solutions.
- Time of obsolescence.
- Manufacturers' presence in the local market.
- Handling of guarantees.
- Product availability in authorized channels.
For his part, Hernández explains that each department has different characteristics, functions and responsibilities, but in all cases there is "the need for an information system that provides automation solutions and allows them to improve the efficiency and management of the processes in charge, the relationship with customers, suppliers, employees, payment of obligations, file and document management, measurement of cost effectiveness", among other pieces of this great puzzle.
To the elements mentioned by Martín, it is possible to add the ease of integration between the various options (for example, in Impacto TIC we opted for Zoho solutions). That one solution does not fight with another, that solution A and solution B can talk to each other, complement each other and at the end of the day provide alternatives so that area A and area B of a company can row, with complementary tools. Thinking about integration leads to another vital point, investment.
In the past, companies invested large sums of money in order to meet the automation challenges of each of its departments –explains Hernández–, generating high maintenance costs, obsolescence of equipment and software, and little control due to lack of interconnection of systems.
Hence, the idea that investing in technology is something expensive and exclusive to large companies is still in the imagination today. But we remember the phrase of Santiago Pinzón, Vice President of Digital Transformation at Andi: “It is not about buying a Mercedes Benz or a Rolls Royce just because. The same happens with technology, it is not simply investing for the sake of investing”.
Technology solutions, whether for those who manage personnel, as for those who carry purchases, even for those who run the company, are based on essential elements such as word processors, multimedia presentations and spreadsheets, which can work in the cloud, as is the case with Google Docs, which has a free version and from then on, it can be as robust as the needs require.
Today, “collaborative work tools and process automation allow us to improve staff response times”, Hernández tells us, highlighting that this type of option generates greater effectiveness.
Talking about what is the best solution to monitor projects, what is the best accounting software, or the best technology for logistics, may well be 'getting into a shirt of eleven rods'. What is true is that more than a name or a specific brand, “Information technologies (IT), Artificial Intelligence, devices related to IoT (Internet of Things), Big Data, cloud computing, are common elements in all of them; more and more technology becomes a facilitator and dynamizer of business processes”, adds Martín.
Service families, not forgetting the hardware
As the president of Trust Corporate adds, going from the basic elements, there are some other solutions that depending on the organization and its economic activity can be very useful, such as:
- ERP system (Enterpise Resource Planning): it is an integrated business management system that allows planning and controlling the organization's resources. It is used mainly for the financial and operational areas of the company.
- CRM system (Customer Relationship Management): mostly used for the sales and marketing areas with the objective of growth at the customer and sales level, through campaigns. It usually comes integrated into some ERP systems.
- BI tools (Business Intelligence): it is a tool that allows you to generate strategies through data analysis and make decisions quickly.
- Call Center Systems: is a specialized call management solution.
- POS or POS systems (Point of Sales Systems): manages the process of tickets, invoices, sales and / or orders of the products.
- BPM systems (Business Process Management): this tool helps to improve the performance and optimization of the organization's business processes.
- SGA systems (Warehouse Management System): system that manages the entry and exit of the stock of products from a warehouse.
- Document Management Tools: solutions that allow access to documents in an agile and efficient way.
- Email Marketing Solutions: Allows you to contact a customer database by sending an email, to collectively inform any point of interest for the company.
Read also: 5 great marketing automation tools
It is worth noting that, depending on the type of company, both hardware and software must be taken into account, because generally it is a combination of elements. “Many times we think that the software that is our direct interface is sufficient, but we are unaware of all the hardware, not only at the level of physical devices, but also the communications infrastructure that are required for the programs to function properly and integrated”, Martin concludes.
Technology alone doesn't do the magic
The team is key. If something has been promoted during 2020 it is the training and adoption in the use of technology and digital skills. Having access to the Internet is not synonymous with knowing how to telecommute.
That is why more and more companies are considering candidates who have transversal skills, the so-mentioned soft skills and especially who have high adaptability.
“AS MACHINES REPLACE HUMANS IN SIMPLE AND ROUTINE TASKS, AND THE INTERNET REPLACES PERSONAL INTERACTION, WORKERS WILL HAVE TO ADAPT. THEY SHOULD LEARN TO OPERATE THROUGH ELECTRONIC PLATFORMS AND SPEND MORE OF THEIR TIME TO MORE COMPLEX TASKS, OF A HIGHER ORDER, MORE DIFFICULT TO AUTOMATE AND THAT COMPLEMENT THE TASKS THAT MACHINES PERFORM. THESE ARE BASED ON COGNITIVE OR ANALYTICAL SKILLS (SUCH AS CRITICAL THINKING, CREATIVITY AND PROBLEM SOLVING) AS WELL AS INTERPERSONAL SKILLS (SUCH AS TEAMWORK, NEGOTIATION AND MANAGEMENT) "World Bank Report 'Viral Effect: COVID-19 and the transformationAccelerated Employment Rate in Latin America and the Caribbean '.