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LMS and Organizational Structure: Perfect Pair or Perfect Storm?

21 July 2022

6 Min Read


When it comes to popular pairings, wine and cheese, Batman and Robin, and rhythm and blues probably top the list. But what if your LMS and your org structure are more like night and day? Organizational structure defines how people, processes, and systems are organized to achieve company goals, which means your LMS needs to be a perfect fit. 

Having the ability to configure your learning program’s organizational structure to match your business structure helps businesses overcome some of their leading learning program challenges. A recent survey by Brandon Hall Group found that today’s franchise businesses are facing significant learning program challenges, including: 

  • 88% said technology capabilities are a medium or high factor in franchisee training effectiveness
  • 62% said they experience difficulty in measuring the effectiveness of their learning programs
  • 42% said they lack the right technology to run effective learning programs 

Franchise business models represent just one example of how unique organizational needs become hurdles standing in the way of effective learning. SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, provides a toolkit that explains the full spectrum of organizational structures:

  • Vertical structures where work and employees are organized by specialization, usually departments
  • Matrix structures where work and employees are organized by specialization and by division, usually product, service, customer, or geography

  • Open boundary or network structures where work and employees are organized beyond traditional boundaries into groups and teams that can include third parties such as partners, suppliers, and outsourcers

With this variety in organizational structures, why do most learning management systems take a one-size-fits-all approach? 

Build Your LMS Org Structure Your Way 

While other learning platforms are built exclusively for vertical organizational design, Schoox uses a flexible hierarchy model that makes it possible to support any organizational structure. This means L&D leaders can get creative with representing the nuanced, matrixed ways that people are connected and need to collaborate across your enterprise. L&D can then impact all types of training and talent initiatives including company-wide communication, learning and content sharing, performance reviews, and much more.

Schoox hierarchies make it possible to organize learning programs on a granular level. Here are some examples:

  • Businesses: Corporate, brands, franchise operators, regions
  • Departments: Functional and divisional
  • Jobs: Roles and responsibilities
  • Geographies: City, metro area, state, country

Here are some examples from different industries to show how to organize learning for different types of organizational structures using Schoox:

Software (vertical): A software company with a vertical organization where an employee (software developer) reports to a function (engineering). Using Schoox, the software company would be the primary hierarchy, with a grouping to support the one-to-one relationship between the software developer and the engineering function. 

Construction (matrix): A construction company with a matrixed organization where an employee (a project manager) reports to both a function (project management office) and a division (energy). Using Schoox, the construction company would be the primary hierarchy, with groups to support one-to-one relationships between the project manager and each of the departments: the project management office and the energy division. 

Manufacturing (open boundary): A beverage manufacturing company with an open boundary structure where an employee (plant manager) works for a partner or subsidiary (independent bottling plant). With Schoox, the beverage manufacturing company would be the primary hierarchy, with a group that connects the plant manager to the independent bottling plant. 

In this model, the manufacturer has the option to create distinct groups for each of its bottling plant partners. And within these groups, the partners would be able to create their own custom learning programs for their direct employees (e.g., the plant manager, their teams, and the individuals who work at the plant.) This approach is commonly used in franchise businesses such as restaurants and hotels.

Once the organizational structure is in place, simple filters make it easy to send targeted communications, automate learning assignments, report on progress, and provide the right information to the right employees at the right time.    

Schoox in Action—Subway’s Global Franchise Structure

A perfect example of the flexibility of the Schoox hierarchy tools is Subway® Sandwich Restaurants. The organizational structure of the global chain’s 44,500-plus restaurants in 110 countries around the world consists of a variety of relationship types between the corporate offices, franchisors, and franchisees. 

The company’s previous LMS was designed for a vertical organization, so it fell short of its real-world learning program needs. As a result, the restaurant chain struggled to serve the learning demands of its teams, managers, and employees. 

With Schoox, the University of Subway is now structured to model the company’s complex organization structure. Every restaurant, manager, and franchisee can use the platform in the way that works best for them. The flexible hierarchical tools empower the company to deliver a more robust learning program around the world.

Learn More

Learn more about Subway’s success and the power of Schoox to support learning programs for front-line workers in our new light paper, The Top 5 Capabilities of Learning and Development for Frontline Workers.

Want to understand how to organize learning using Schoox hierarchies? Check out our eBook, Expand Your Organization’s Learning Connections, Relationships, and Collaboration.

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