How to set up a CMO (II): Functioning, Shape and Size.

11 June 2019

In this new instalment, we provide you guidance to find the perfect CMO match in terms of functioning, shape and size.

author picture Article written by Vincent PIEDBOEUF
If not coordinated, change efforts are bound to fail. Surviving in a turbulent business landscape takes a solid aptitude to manage current and future changes in a consistent way. A permanent unit, or multiple dedicated touchpoints, can give you leverage over other competitors. Now that you know what a CMO is and why it should be part of the effort to future-proof your organisation, it is time to look at all available format options. In this new instalment, we provide you guidance to find the perfect CMO match in terms of functioning, shape and size. There are no blueprint solutions, only strategies!
Centralised, hybrid or decentralised?

CMOs can take on different forms, ranging from highly centralised to completely decentralised. In-between hybrids are equally valuable options. Each format yields specific benefits, further summarised in the graph below:

Centralised:  the CMO is located in a single place and is the sole provider of services for the whole organisation. If the organisation’s culture and formal structure is one of centralisation, this type of CMO is an obvious candidate. A stand-alone unit is also a good option if standardisation is what you are looking for. The allocation of resources, all managed through a unique touchpoint, is made flexible. < >: the CMO is more like a community of practitioners who may be found in each business line or entity. Resources irrigate the frontline in a direct manner. If the organisation is spread across different geographical locations, CM resources simply sit with them. With a certain level of organisational maturity comes a better and more optimal connection between each unit. 

Still unsure what form will be the best fit: take it step by step. The chosen configuration can evolve over time (and space) to meet your needs. Starting with a centralised unit is best to drive engagement, legitimise the initiative and put the means into place. Progressing towards decentralisation is context-dependent and will occur naturally if need be. As we said, there is no right or wrong answer.

Hydrid: it combines the advantages of both approach. Beware, though, that this option is a bit more complex as any ambiguity in terms of roles or responsibilities can jeopardise the entire effort.


How many people?

A CMO does not have to be big. In fact, nearly half of these functional groups employ between 2 up to 5 people. Any organisation may thus choose to rely on a small group of highly specialised people to serve the whole structure. Most importantly, costs incurred remain within reasonable limits.

As can be inferred from a worldwide survey conducted by our partner PROSCI, smallest CMOs are found in less mature organisations, that is, in entities applying CM on an ad hoc basis or isolated projects (level 1 or 2). Climbing the ladder, bigger groups start to emerge. Wherever norms have been established and a real CM aptitude developed (level 4 & 5), the size of the CMO typically shrinks. This is because the ultimate goal of democratising CM has been successfully achieved.

To sum up, all configurations are valid provided that they meet your (current) needs and evolve accordingly. But remember that when it comes to allocating resources to your CMO, “internal or mixed” approaches are best. In fact, relying on external resources contradicts the prevailing logic that CM should eventually be inscribed into the very DNA of the organisation. If you wonder where exactly on the organisational chart the CMO should appear, we have an article coming up that discusses the pros and cons of each option and combination. Keep a lookout for more on this!

Our experts can help with choosing and setting up the CMO that will be just right for you. Be sure to check our training calendar, in particular ECM and strategic alignment modules.

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