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The Best Organisational Structure For Your Agency

21st September 2022

Having a strong organisational structure in place is key to growing your digital agency.

Whether your agency is brand new or has 100 employees, the structure of the team is going to have a direct impact on your overall efficiency, culture, client satisfaction, and scalability. Without a considered organisational structure in place, many agencies suffer from poor communication and frustrated team members and clients.

So, what are your options when it comes to structuring or restructuring your agency? How do you know which structure is going to guarantee both employee and customer satisfaction and give you the permission to scale your marketing agency?

Get more brilliant advice from Janusz at the 12-month Mastermind group for agency leaders. Gain momentum, resolve and focus to achieve your goals, with the support, accountability and insight of GYDA experts and like-minded peers. Find out more.

The Five Most Common Organisational Structures For Marketing Agencies

1-Flat

A flat team structure is common in smaller agencies and start-ups. Flat structures have only a couple levels, if any at all, between management and employees. These organisations tend to require employees to ‘wear many hats’ and as such, often produce a lot of generalists but no specialists.

2-Functional

Then we have functional structures — in which teams are organised by services. For example, a digital agency with a functional structure could have a Social Team, an Email Team and a PPC Team, and so on.

A functional structure concentrates the expertise and knowledge within those services or groups. As such, this structure often falls down when the client requires more than one service from the agency, forcing disjointed communication between the executives in each team.

As the agency grows, communication and coordination between these teams is only more and more convoluted and scaling becomes very clunky and difficult.

3-Matrix

A matrix structure is similar to a functional one, with added levels of management and communication weaved into the mix, hence matrix.

This structure involves side-ways communication between team members, like account managers who coordinate other functions. Like the functional structure, the matrix is limited to a team of a certain size, as this web of communication is difficult to scale.

4-Holacracy

Holacracy organisational structure is where there are no clearly assigned roles. Employees are given the flexibility to take on any duty or role and move between teams freely. A holacracy can work well within some industries, but broadly speaking, this structure is a poor fit for all digital agencies as having expertise and specialism within your personnel is essential.

5-Pods

A pod organisational structure is where an agency arranges their teams by client type or sector, rather than the agency function or service.

This creates specialist teams, which function similarly to sports teams. For example, each ‘Pod’ would have a PPC expert, an SEO specialist, and a Social Media manager and this pod would service a particular category or type of clients, such as Automotive Clients or the Legal Sector.

Watch: A detailed look at Functional Structures Vs Pods (4min)

Why A Pod Organisational Structure Is Best For Your Digital Agency

Utilisng a pod structure allows you to lean into your niche and achieve a deeper level of industry or sector specialism from each pod.

Pod structures also have no dependencies on other teams within the agency, thus there is no web of complex internal communication. This creates friction-free workflows within your teams and an enriched experience for your clients at the other end.

Finally, a pod structure creates accountability and responsibility among your team members. As employees are being regularly challenged by exciting projects within their specialism, they are likely to have increased job satisfaction levels.

Maintaining A High Level Of Expertise Within Your Pods

At Digital Agency Coach, we advocate running weekly or bi-weekly workshops for all specialist executives, hosted by a technical lead. Keep the agency focused on strategy, process improvement and professional development and create a conversation the other experts from each pod.

Regularly hosting these casual, friendly and engaging workshops with employees of the same skill set promotes an easy and productive conversation with relevant learning and take-homes for each employee.

Final Thoughts

There’s no denying restructuring your digital agency can be a disruptive process in the early days and it probably won’t happen overnight. But once the hard groundwork is done, growing and scaling your agency can simply be a matter of copy and pasting a new pod.

This team structure eliminates the complex web of communication just as effectively as if you have a team of 30 or a team of 300 people.

If you are a full-service agency and your clients are purchasing multiple products or services from you, perhaps it’s time to reconsider your organisational structure.

Watch Our Quick Functional Structures vs Pods Explainer Video (4min)

If you feel you’d like any help or guidance with restructuring your agency, get in touch with Digital Agency Coach to arrange a consultation, we’d be delighted to help.

Get more brilliant advice from Janusz at the 12-month Mastermind group for agency leaders. Gain momentum, resolve and focus to achieve your goals, with the support, accountability and insight of GYDA experts and like-minded peers. Find out more.

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About Janusz Stabik - Digital Agency Mentor

I'm an ex-agency founder now coach and mentor to digital agencies and trusted by Google and Forbes to deliver agency growth programs across the globe.

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