Olivier surveying company

Case study: Olivier surveying company

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Case study: Olivier surveying company


Olivier Surveying Company (henceforth OSC) is a private entity dealing with surveying work for building and construction. Surveying work essentially deals with measuring land, elevation, and angles. It is the responsibility of the surveyors to provide precise information about the land like the topographical information before the construction begins. The surveyors need to be proficient in using precision tools.

OSC, based in Prahran, in Melbourne’s inner south-east, was founded in 1995 by Larry Olivier who is also the owner and the managing director of the company. Larry and his wife Vivien work as the directors in the company, a major source of decision-making. The company started with a single employee and it has managed to grow into a business with 19 employees. OSC’s success is based on its culture and reputation for high-quality work and reliability. ( ) found that it is essential for the growth of any company from its inception to offer quality and be reliable and have an organized structure of working, decision making, and control mechanisms that ensure all the qualities needed by the client. The high standards that have been set by OSC have already made it possible for the company to bid and acquire other larger contracts, something a majority of firms in the construction industry are unable to achieve. As a direct consequence of the performance of the company in the construction industry, the management through its founder is able to charge a premium for its services.

The objective of this case study is to apply theories to analyze the company’s organizational structure, its decision-making processes, and control mechanisms applied. Specifically, the report is interested in comparing both the pre-2015 and the post-2015 organization, looking at the reorganization that led to company-wide changes. The changes will then be observed against theories relating to the company’s organizational structure, its decision-making processes, and control mechanisms applied.

Overview of Roles

Larry Olivier is a competent surveyor, one whose name is well known in the construction sector. His skills in the field have made the company grow gradually from a startup to a well reputable firm. His main work policy and culture are built on a culture of reliability and high-quality work. These qualities have now emerged as the main competitive advantages of OSC in its industry against rival organizations. Larry handles almost every aspect of the organization, including client relationships to contractual negotiations, staffing, work assessment, employee performance reviews, pay allocation, discretionary bonus decisions, administrative arrangements, frequent site visits, and almost every other aspect of the company.

Organizational Structure

Organizational structures are one of the most important elements of an organization in its quest to achieve its objectives and goals. ( ) defines an organizational structure as a framework outlining the way different activities are directed so as to attain the organizational goals including responsibilities, rules, and roles, and the reporting format. Essentially, an organizational structure enables the flow of information between various levels of the company. OSC, by 2015, had 19 employees. ( ) found that an organizational structure is put in place to ensure that an organization retains focus and efficiency. Successful structures define the job of every employee and describe how it fits within the whole organization’s system.

Organizational structure basically takes either a centralized or a decentralized overall structure. Conventionally, organizations use a centralized leadership system that defines the chain of command ( ), for example the military as an organization where every role is clearly stipulated and a hierarchy of subordinates and superiors being very specific and well enforced. The roles of each organizational member is clearly defined and the subordinates responsibilities default to a guiding structure from the superiors ( ). In contrast, a decentralized system delegates decision-making and daily operations decisions amongst the top, middle, and lower-level management. The role of such a structure is to help an organization’s top executive to focus on major decisions.

Organizational Structure Pre-2015

Except for the administration assistant, every other employee (including the senior registered surveyor, two senior project surveyors, CAD specialist, three junior surveyors) reported directly to Larry. Ideally, the company was run as a small company. According to ( ), the organizational structure chosen by a business creates a reporting hierarchy that aids in the increasing of effectiveness and efficiency of business operations, including decision-making, daily running, customer relations, and every other job related to an organization. While different small organizations operate in variant methods, research conducted by ( ) found that there is no one-size-fit-all strategy that can be applied to create efficiency and effectiveness. OSC’s organizational structure runs through Larry as the focal point of every activity, decision making, and includes some technical aspects that would traditionally be left out to niche experts.

OSC’s structure aligns with a centralized functional organizational structure. In this structure, ( ) mentions that a more bureaucratic framework is employed to break up an organization based on the workforce and its specialization. This system applies to a majority of the small and medium sized companies. The firm, in the functional/bureaucratic framework, is divided into small departments based on specialization. The functional structure is intended to create focus for employees since they have a common goal to work towards. Larry’s leadership uses a centralized and bureaucratic system of decision making that divides employees according to their specialization and role. Due to the small size of the company with a total of 19 employees, the structure is yet to be fully defined. However, it is already clear that every decision is run through Larry, including issues that could easily be solved by senior surveyors in the firm.

Post-2015 Reorganized Structure

After the 2015 reorganization, Larry changed from having all the 19 employees directly reporting to him to have on 5 direct reports. As part of the reorganization, two new roles of supervising surveyors were formed in order to assist in overseeing daily surveying work. All surveyors in the field reported directly to the supervising surveyors. Additionally, each supervising surveyor had a responsibility to schedule junior surveyors to projects, handling emerging enquiries from the staff and liaising with clients. They also continued with their technical work on their projects. Noel, a senior licensed surveyor’s role was shifted to the provision of technical support to the supervising surveyors and the junior surveyors. He also gained a new advisory role with Larry in decision making regarding the new markets. The new structure chosen by OSC is as presented in the chart below.

After the reorganization, OSC employed a hierarchical organizational structure. In this structure, employees were grouped and assigned to a supervisor. OSC’s new structure grouped employees together using their functions and roles and the services they provided. ( ) terms this structure as a pyramid because of the multiple levels it has and the authority levels displayed. The pyramid thins the higher it goes as more employees report to only a few managers at various levels. The benefits of this structure to the top management is that authority was more clearly defined, enabled Larry to free up more time to work on other projects, and solved the issue of reduced delegation caused by Larry’s involvement in every major firm activity. The new structure changed the reporting format at OSC leading to better teamwork and increasing trust on employees to do the right thing. The reorganized structure changed how employees handled problems, reducing the need to always consult Larry in every situation to foster the development of other employees and increased promotion opportunities.

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