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What Is Organizational Architecture?

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  • Written By: Jan Fletcher
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Organizational architecture is a business term referring to a set of plans defining a business. It describes the internal structure through which an enterprise assembles staff and procedures into a means of productive commerce. Also referred to as enterprise modeling, this defines the means the company uses to express itself as an organized system.

Just as an architect erects a structure for a productive purpose through drafting and executing a set of plans, a company constructs enterprise architecture. The way the architecture is constructed reveals how compartments within the company are arranged. Companies often depict this architecture in a flow chart. This illustration is also a reflection of how authority functions within the organization.

Sometimes an architect may choose to construct a building using a technique of distributed load bearing along horizontal beams. In similar fashion, a company may choose to create a distributed organizational architecture. Such a method distributes authority in a horizontal fashion within a department.

Vertical organizational architecture is a top-down flow of authority. A manager or managers supervise and direct the work of employees in a hierarchy. A networked model is another form of organizational architecture. Also called team architecture, this is often used for constructing a collaborative working model.

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A company may reconstruct its enterprise architecture in response to changing conditions in the marketplace. If so, the business will first perform a review noting how workers are grouped, which functions are performed, and how authority structures operate in the company. Supply chain and distribution networks are also part of the organizational architecture.

Enterprise architecture may have been erected in piecemeal fashion over a span of time. This may result in areas where organizational structures are hindering the company’s goals. Changing the authority structures within a business is not a task to be undertaken lightly. Disruptions to staff members and managers may be psychologically overwhelming when long-standing routines and well-defined relationships undergo significant change.

Often a company will change its architecture in a piecemeal fashion. This disadvantage to this is the same as it would be in a remodeling job in a building. There will construction debris, metaphorically, in terms of confusion over roles and authority structures. This confusion will clutter the workplace, and will likely impact the company's operational efficiency during the transition.

At times, a major overhaul of organizational architecture may be in order. Technological changes can be the trigger for such a change. Gradual changes in enterprise architecture can result in a greater degree of responsiveness to the macro-environment.

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