Organizing for Success [1] : Map out your Organization Structure!

Perhaps the most important resource of an organization is its people. So the role people play, how they interact through formal and informal processes and the relationships that they build are crucial to the success of any strategy. If your manager was asked to describe your organization, he would probably respond by drawing an org chart, to map out its structure.

But why does an organization need a structure? This is important because it gives a clear picture of the reporting lines and helps you understand who you should report to. Also, by having clear reporting lines it makes it easy for you to have more control over the resources. Organization structure is more like the backbone of an organization’s culture, it therefore can directly affect employee behaviour, performance and motivation. Therefore, having a structure in your organization is important rather than leaving it carelessly managed with no clear structure.

Organization Structural Types

Having an effective organizational structure in place can increase productivity, improve operating costs and employee satisfaction. This will allow you to identify the positions within an organization, determine who manages which departments and define individual job levels and roles in the organization. Lets go through some of the basic structural types. This will help you understand how each organization structure fits in to the business environment and the strengths and weaknesses of each structure.

The Simple Structure

This is no formal structure at all, just typical of an organization run by the personal control of an individual. It is commonly the way in which very small businesses operate. There may be an owner who undertakes most of the responsibilities of management, perhaps with a partner or an assistant. However, there is little division of responsibility, and probably little clear definition of who is responsible for what if there is more than one person involved.

The main problem here is that the organization can operate effectively only up to a certain size, beyond which it becomes too cumbersome and time consuming for one person to control alone.

Simple_structure

The Functional Structure

This is typically found in companies with narrow, rather than diverse, product ranges. It allows greater operational control at a senior level; and linked to this is the clear definition of roles and tasks. For instance, the marketing department would be staffed only with marketers responsible for the marketing of the company’s products.

This specialization leads to operational efficiencies where employees become specialists within their own realm of expertise. It’s best suited for organizations producing standardized goods and services at large volumes and low cost. The most typical problem with this structure is however that communication within the company can be rather rigid, making the organization slow and inflexible. Therefore, functional structures may be considered most effective for organizations operating in rather stable environments.

Functional_structure

The Multidivisional Structure

Divisionalization is considered as a solution to overcome the problems that functional structures have in dealing with responsibility and business diversity. Divisionalization allows a tailoring of the product strategy to the requirements of each separate division and can improve the ownership of the strategy by divisional staff.

Unlike the functional organizational structure, this focuses on a higher degree of specialization within a specific division, so that divisions are given the resources and autonomy, to react to changes in their specific business environment. Therefore, each division often has all the necessary resources and functions within it to satisfy the demands put on the division. In practice, however a multidivisional structure has problems, like conflict between departments which is common due to internal competition and differences in values and expectations. It’s also more expensive to operate and manage because each division is considered its own entity and some functions are duplicated.

Multidivisional_structure

Although it can be hard to determine when your current organizational structure isn’t working, especially if you do not have a high level view of the structure, effort should be made to identify if your business has grown beyond its current structure or organizational design. When the structure isn’t working it leads to inefficiencies and wastage as well as possible internal conflicts. If you identify these sorts of problems it may be time to rethink your structure and move toward a better company structure.

Having looked at a few organization structures today, watch this space for more on the same topic to follow soon. In the meantime, please do let us know if you have any questions/suggestions, we are more than happy to help you.

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10 common mistakes to avoid in Sequence Diagrams

When talking about UML diagrams and, in fact, sequence diagrams you will realize that attention-to-detail is mandatory. We’ve tapped the knowledge present in house to identify 10 of the most common mistakes that designers make when it comes to constructing sequence diagrams. We hope this knowledge helps you when it comes to making quality sequence diagrams. Have a run through and let us know what you think.

1. Get rid of unnecessary detail

A typical mistake that software diagrammers usually make is adding too much detail when working with sequence diagrams. Say your code has quite a few branches in a particular method; this does not mean that you should include each one within the same diagram using block or scenario elements. The issue is that adding too much detail ends up with too much clutter thereby making the diagrams more difficult to read and comprehend. The same could be said when it comes to sequence diagrams at the system level. Main thing is to keep all  your diagrams clutter-free, as shown below.

2. Messages should (more often than not) run from left to right

When it comes to sequence diagrams, the message flow should start from the top left corner. Since it’s a practice in western culture to read from the left to the right, all classifiers such as actors, classes, objects and use cases, should follow this route. However, there are certain exceptions when it comes to this logical flow, for example, when objects pairs invoke operations on each other.

3. Sequence diagrams that are obsolete and out of date

Outdated sequence diagrams that are not relevant when compared to the interfaces, actual architecture or behavior of the system, become a pain since they stop offering any documentation value. This is another reason why high-level sequence diagrams work much better than low-level diagrams. The former tends to remain appropriate even as the application details are changed. They may even need only a few modifications over time in order to remain current.

4. Avoid sequence diagrams if you are dealing with simple logic

One of the most common mistakes that most of us do is waste precious time doing too many sequence diagrams for every single use case, one for the basic course of action and one for each alternate course.  It is best to design a sequence diagram only when you have complex logic that you have to deal with. If the logic is simple and easy to assimilate, having a sequence diagram would not really add any value.

5. Provide a visual trace between the use case text and the message arrows

Each sentence within the use case text ideally should have some blank space around it. Each sentence should also be in visual harmony with the message that is in agreement with the particular behavior. This will enable people reading the diagram to easily see how the system will accomplish what the use case showcases.

6. Keep your sequence diagrams abstract without the need for plumbing

When it comes to robustness diagrams, there really is no need to show plumbing, since these diagrams reflect a design view that is preliminary. Having said that it is pertinent to highlight the real design in detail since sequence diagrams are the last stop before coding.

7.  Consider behavior allocation, seriously

As most diagrammers are aware, the sequence diagram is the main vehicle when it comes to making behavior allocation decisions. You use them to assign operations to your classes as you go. Behavior allocation especially when it comes to deciding what operations belong to what classes is very important in the ICONIX approach.

8. Include the use case text on the sequence diagram

Writing the text for the use case in the margin of the sequence diagram provides a trace from the design back to your requirements. In short, the diagram should match the narrative flow of the associated use case.

9. Follow the basics when it comes to allocating behavior by using message arrows

An object ideally should only possess a single personality. What this means is that a class should ideally focus on a set of behaviors that are strongly related. In other words, state objects need to be cohesive and coupled loosely. Other aspects that you need to concentrate on include things like reusability. What this means is that when you have objects and classes that are general, you could resuse then for other projects. Also remember that methods are assigned to objects, make sure you make it a habit to ask whether there is a decent fit between the method and object.

10. Consider the origins of the message arrows carefully

This is a no brainer. You do have to see which object is in control at whatever time so that it is easy to see the flow of control. While the arrows are certainly important when it comes to robustness diagrams, they are more important when it comes to sequence diagrams. Remember that the messages that are present between objects determines the operations on the associated classes.

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Creately, Just Smarter and Easier

Creately, Just Smarter and Easier.

It’s been less than a month since our release, and we’re back with yet another exciting upgrade to Creately! The team has been hard at work putting together some great ideas to make Creately even easier to use, so we hope you like whats in store.

New Look Side Panel

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We’ve got a new look on the side panel. Our UI was beginning to look a lil dated - so we’ve started work on a refresh. This week we’ve got a brand new look for our super duper Side Panel (where all the mojo’s at). Like what you see? Let us know.

Notes Panel

More interestingly, we’ve added a new Notes panel to make it easier to collaborate and communicate clearly in your teams. Those inline comments are great, but wouldn’t it be better if you could explain your diagrams and mockups by adding some notes to help the reader along.

Check out the new Notes button on the Side Panel - its not a heavy-weight text editor but you do get a Rich Text Editor to help you get your ideas into Creately.

Good News for Mac Users!

You Mac fanboys out there have something to really cheer about. We’ve fixed the horizontal scroll issues with Apple’s Magic Trackpad. Now you can use 2 fingers to scroll both vertically and horizontally in the Creately application. Try it out now!

Improved Smart KObjects

We saw the trouble you had in creating tables, tabs and accordion panes in your Web Mockups! Haven’t you always wished you could easily build a table in Creately or just change the number of tabs displayed in the Tab objects? Now you can.

The team’s been hard at work all winter (yes, we come from a land down-under), putting the final touches to a brand new Smart KObject framework to bring a new level of ease of use and flexibility to your Creately diagrams. This week we announce 3 new Smart KObjects - and many more will follow in the coming weeks.

Professional Dynamic Tables

We heard you say how difficult it was to add Tables in your Mockups, so we’ve added dynamic Tables to our KObject library. Now you can simply enter Text and the Table will resize itself. Simply drag-n-drop a Table from the left panel, and start to edit the Table properties to add Table Data. To create a new column, simply type a ‘,’ (comma) and for a new row, enter in a new row of data. This way, you get easy to use dynamic Tables for all your mockups and diagrams.

table-2

Multiple Tab Pages in seconds

You can now create multiple Tab Pages on a Tab Control quickly. We know how aggravating it is to insert a number of individual Tabs to create Tab pages. But, with the smart KObject improvements you can create as many Tabs as you might inside the Tab Control by simply editing the Tab Bar text. To add tabs, simply type ‘,’ (comma) and the Tab title, so “Tab1, Tab2, Tab3″ will create 3 Tabs in this order. Adding a ‘*’ to any Tab title marks it as the selected Tab.

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Collapsible Accordion Pane

Lastly for this week we looked at our Accordion Pane and decided it too could do with a makeover! Now you can configure your Accordion pane with just a few simple keystrokes. For example, the following Text will create 4 panes with the second one open and the rest collapsed:

accordion-2

These are just the initial few smart KObjects we’ve created. Expect a whole lot more smart KObjects in the weeks to come… Diagramming has never been easier!

Login to Creately now to check out the great new features, and let us know what you feel. We’d love to hear it from you!

With Love
Creately Team

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