The Functional to Matrix Transition

1809 Words Jan 31st, 2012 8 Pages
The Functional to Matrix Transition
Karen R.J. White, PMP

RECENTLY PARTICIPATED IN A CONSULTING ASSIGNMENT WHICH INVOLVED MOVING A LARGE ITS ORGANIZATION from an old-style functional-department organization structure towards one more friendly to proj-

Common Pitfalls

ects. The project faced the sorts of challenges that are common when trying to realign organizational structure with the new realities of managing by projects. In addition, there were added cultural barriers because the company was in the financial services sector-a very traditional industry, known for conservatism in management approaches. Project management consultants were called in because, for the first time, the organization was undertaking a multi-year
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Programs were initiated by functional departments, making any kind of strategic alignment or project prioritization (portfolio management) problematic. And because project teams within programs were organized by functional department, not by deliverable, the physical and organizational barriers between project teams impeded communications. THE OTHER EXTREME The Project (Strong) Matrix organization, at the other end of the organization-structure spectrum, works well for crash efforts, where the focus is on cost and, especially, schedule. These types of project-based organizations are sometimes nicknamed "Skunkworks" after the Lockheed-Martin aerospace project that made this approach famous. The Strong Matrix is an organizational form beloved of project managers and organizational design theorists. To be sure, this model offers many advantages from the project management standpoint: · It concentrates complete authority for decisions affecting a project or program within the project or program itself, which simplifies decision-making. · Program budgets and staffing decisions are made within the programs. · Staff members have a single manager to please and answer to. · Resources are accountable to program for deliverables and performance. · Clear communications paths exist. However, in the real world of

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