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Organisational Structure of Dell -
January 31st, 2011
Dell Inc: (NASDAQ: Dell, HKEX: 4331) is an American multinational information technology corporation based in Round Rock, Texas, United States, that develops, sells and supports computers and related products and services. Bearing the name of its founder, Michael Dell, the company is one of the largest technological corporations in the world, employing more than 96,000 people worldwide. Dell had 46,000 employees as of Jan. 30. About 22,200 of those, or 48.3 percent, were in the United States, while 23,800 people, or 51.7 percent, worked in other countries, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Dell is the third largest PC maker in the world. Dell is listed at #38 on the Fortune 500 (2010). Fortune also lists Dell as the #5 most admired company in its industry.
Dell has grown by both organic and inorganic means since its inception—notable mergers and acquisitions including Alienware (2006) and Perot Systems (2009). As of 2009, the company sold personal computers, servers, data storage devices, network switches, software, and computer peripherals. Dell also sells HDTVs, cameras, printers, MP3 players and other electronics built by other manufacturers. The company is well known for its innovations in supply chain management and electronic commerce.
On May 3, 2010, Fortune Magazine listed Dell as the 38th largest company in the United States and the 5th largest company in Texas by total revenue. It is the 2nd largest non-oil company in Texas (behind AT&T) and the largest company in the Austin area.
Small & Medium Group
Operations & Technology
As Ireland’s largest exporter and revenue generating
technology company, Dell is considered one of
the leading lights in the multinational technology
sector that has been so important in the successful
development of the Irish economy. A robust and
competitive performer, Dell has demonstrated
its competitive ability in a sector that over the last
five years has been fraught with uncertainties.
Globally, the final quarter of 2003 represented
what the company called its ‘best operating period
ever’, with a 24 per cent profit increase to $749m.
Over the same period, the company achieved record
product shipments, revenue, operating and net
income, and earnings per share. In the Europe,
Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, into which
Dell’s Limerick manufacturing operation provides
computer products, Dell reached $8.5 billion in fullyear
revenue, 23 per cent more than in fiscal 2003.
Dell first established itself in Ireland in 1990,
when it set up its European manufacturing base
in Limerick, which currently employs around 3,000
people. Two years later, it set up a call centre in
Bray, CoWicklow, which subsequently expanded to
encompass another site close by at Cherrywood,
Co Dublin. Both sites collectively employ approximately
1,300 staff. The operation provides marketing,
sales and support primarily to customers in
the UK and Ireland.
The company prides itself on running a highly
productive manufacturing operation in Limerick,
which is its most cost-efficient facility worldwide.
Over the years, the Irish operation has evolved to
feature a wide range of advanced services including:
p EMEA Applications Solution Centre, Limerick.
A "proof of concept" laboratory where corporate
customers from across EMEA can simulate
complex networked applications on Dell server
and storage equipment in advance of purchase.
p EMEA Expert Centre, Cherrywood. This group of
multi-lingual system consultants provides highlevel
Enterprise support for complex data centres,
clustered, large storage and rack dense enterprise
p EMEA Marketing. Bray is home to the majority
of the centralised EMEA marketing team who
are responsible for online development, pricing,
product marketing, business analysis and the
creation, design and production of EMEA-wide
advertising and direct mail campaigns.
The focus for this case study is on Dell’s Sales
and Technical Support divisions, based in Bray,
Co.Wicklow and Cherrywood, Co Dublin.
The senior management team in Ireland reports
to the European headquarters, located in
Within its Sales and Support divisions, Dell’s
organisational structure is quite typical of the
technology sector – each division has a senior
manager, who oversees the work of the division
with a group of team leaders, who each have
responsibility for a group of employees.
The workforce is dominated by Sales and Marketing
staff but also includes a significant Technical Support
staff, as well as personnel working in Finance,
Business Operations, IT and Human Resources
divisions. The workforce in Dell is non-unionised
In a competitive environment, Dell continues to
be a world leader in what it does. It gives much of
the credit for its performance to the core ethos of
the company, namely the direct model (no resellers
or middle men), the focus on adapting the latest
technology and tight control of its cost base. In
Ireland, the widespread use of business process
improvement methodology over recent years has
led to remarkable efficiencies being achieved in the
manufacturing side of the business, which continues
to be extended to the sales and support areas.
Dell’s foremost challenge is to remain strategically
and organisationally responsive to market conditions.
It has widened its portfolio from a PC company
to an IT company with expansion into new areas,
including servers, storage, printers, PDAs, TVs,
leasing,warranty sales and other services. These
strategic decisions have implications for all staff
many of whom are required to upgrade their skills
set to meet the support needs of new technologies.
The ability of staff in Ireland to adapt to changing
circumstances and the need to move up the value
chain into higher-end sales, marketing and
technical support functions, is critical to the success
of the Dell Sales and Marketing operation in Ireland.
The focus on higher value-add activities taking
place in Dell Ireland has already been evident in
recent years with the setting up of a European
Enterprise Expert Centre which now includes 156
people and offers advanced support in 23
languages, gold service client technical support for
UK/Ireland customers and the centralised European
Marketing Communications studio in Bray which
produces all advertising and direct mail collateral
for the European market.
Meeting the Competitive Challenges
As illustrated, Dell has enjoyed impressive success
in meeting its competitive challenges. Employees
share in the success of the company through incentive
bonus schemes, which are based on a combination
of company and individual performance.
Dell markets its products with the promise of
the ‘Dell Advantage’, which refers to a company
that is easy to deal with, easy to trust, and where
the customer’s needs are paramount, so that
each customer essentially has a customised PC built
according to their specifications. In this climate,
excellence in Customer Service, from point of initial
contact through product delivery and on to aftersales
support, is one of the keys to high performance.
Dell promotes and values continuous learning
and has driven Business Process Improvements (BPI)
into all elements of its operations in Ireland. The
approach has been to educate employees to think
from the customer perspective and to use a
methodology and toolset to improve everything
they do. Lean Thinking and BPI have enabled Dell
in Ireland to contribute to Dell's competitive
advantage in EMEA.
Cross functional teams look at end-to-end
repeatable processes with a view to improving the
customer experience, eliminating waste, reducing
cost, increasing efficiencies and removing low or
non value-added activities from employees. While
the programme has the support and involvement
of senior management, the involvement of
employees on the ground who use the process
on a daily basis is fundamental to the success
of the programme. Through BPI and Lean, all
Dell employees have the power to fundamentally
change their day-to-day work processes. This
results in a high degree of flexibility coupled
with a team-based approach to problem solving,
giving the company the capacity to respond
effectively to new challenges.
Information and Consultation
In the context of a non-unionised, multi-site and
multi-national organisation, excellent two-way
communications between management and staff
are seen as crucial. The company has a comprehensive
approach to information and consultation,
and employs a range of approaches to keeping
the workforce informed of both operational and
strategic issues, and involving them in the ongoing
The company provides briefings to employees at
team, business unit, departmental and site-wide
levels. A wide range of media is used to communicate
with employees, including the company
handbook, a monthly company printed newsletter,
a weekly email bulletin, end of quarter messages
from senior executives, the corporate intranet,
and regular face-to-face briefings.
At a strategic level, decisions are typically made
through a managerial process, and employees are
typically engaged and consulted on the effective
implementation of the plans. There is also a
growing use of systematic employee surveys, the
data from which is used at management level for
At the business team level, management is primarily
informed through ongoing engagement with
employees. The company holds regular employee
forums, where problem solving on issues such as
resource deployment, scheduling, etc. is carried out.
Team working is routine, and the line of communication
runs from employees through team/project
leaders up to the divisional management. The
Business Process Improvement methodology,
which requires a detailed business plan to be
outlined before each six-sigma project is instigated,
also serves to effectively inform management of
innovative ideas and competitive issues.
Dell has numerous feedback mechanisms for
employees to air views and influence local based
decisions. At the individual employee level,
managers hold regularly scheduled one-to-one
meetings with employees, which provide opportunity
for two-way feedback and consultation. Performance
reviews, incorporating training and development
reviews, are conducted for all employees,
with 360-degree reviews carried out for certain
levels of employee.
One practice at Dell is referred to as the ‘Brown Bag
Lunch’ approach.Whenever a senior manager from
the US or European HQ visits the facilities in Bray
or Cherrywood, a number of employees, chosen at
random, are invited to a working lunch with that
visitor, during which they have the opportunity
to ask questions and air their views on issues. This
practice is also conducted locally by senior managers
and HR representatives, which ensures that a large
number of employees have the opportunity to air
their views and suggestions to management.
In summary, Dell operates in a very fast moving
environment. To remain competitive, it needs to
have the ability to respond very quickly to market
dynamics and to changing customer requirements.
The robust information and consultation processes
in place at Dell reflect that business reality.
EU Information and Consultation Directive
Challenges in implementing the Directive
As a non-unionised company that has developed
a best-practice approach to management –
employee relations, Dell – while welcoming the
objectives of the directive- is nonetheless anxious
not to jeopardise the current effective arrangements
and relationships it has in the workplace.
The company will seek to devise a system that
enhances rather than detracts from the current
workplace relations climate.
In terms of implementing the Directive, two key
elements of the company’s response will be
information and training for both management and
staff. Examining what other companies have done
in relation to responding to the directive will give
Dell useful indicators in developing an appropriate
and effective system in an Irish context