Organization design: functional or phase based departments?


So I was pondering the other day about how organizations are sectioned off.  Most organizations are  grouped by department: sales, marketing, finance, engineering, and operations.  This is convenient for the organizations, less so for the customer.   As social media emerges as a primary vehicle for communications: for marketing, sales and customer service, organizations are struggling to build a communications group, for all stages of the customer lifecycle.

Some companies assign a team to a customer.  So they’ll interface with one account manager, one service person and so on throughout their relationship with the organization.  This is a great customer friendly model, but for smaller organizations, it is pretty impossible to implement while you have limited resources.

For most organizations, the primary goal is to find customers, engage them and keep them as long as possible.  Why aren’t our organizations structured around these phases of the customer relationship?  What if instead we organized our business around stages in the customer lifecycle.  Some roles would have more representation in one stage or another, but the metrics for the organization would be based on performance in the stage?

Here’s a basic lifecycle:



Identification finding new prospects, potential customers. Nurturing them until they are ready to progress the relationship with a purchasing cycle.  In this “department” staff would be weighted around communicators.  In a tech company this would include conventional marketing and communications people.  Perhaps pre-sales technical resources.  A market researcher. And a lead qualification team.  The market researcher would pass feedback to the product development team on what prospective customers are looking for.  This team would be graded on the number of prospects they find, and perhaps brand awareness.  This team would be focused on though leadership and making the brand feel “warm and fuzzy.” A key metric would be related to conversion rates between this stage to Acquisition. They’d also focus on understanding the market and the target customer. Continue reading