Project Management

Project Management Central

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Topics: Information Technology, Schedule Management, Scheduling
** Schedule Optimization in a Matrix Environment **
OK, I can't be the only PM in this situation. We are an small IT partner currently running in a matrix organization. Meaning, we have our operations group (IT support/NOC) where our engineers live and a PM group that implements new services; PMs do not have their own resources and share them with the operations group.
Currently, the PMs are using a shared Outlook calendar (yuck) and the operations group has us limited to using (4) of their Tier 2 engineers per week. We request the number of resources required (via an Outlook meeting) and the Ops group assigns names to the numbers. As you can imagine, the PM team is running into all sort of issues with this type of scheduling. A few examples, (1) we are currently booked out 4 months on the calendar (2) no flexibility (3) PMs are not the engineer's functional managers (no control), (3) Ops has their own agenda, etc. Ideally we'd like to have our own PM teams with engineers but there is not room in the budget to have additional resources doing only project work. And, I seriously doubt the Ops VP would give us those 4 bodies to manage on our own; not to mention the current rotation is alleviating travel burnout and diversifying their skill sets while "in-house" taking support calls. Also, I don't think an Agile environment is an option with the type of work we're performing (i.e. installing a new bank branch); it needs to be more of a waterfall-based approach.

Is there a better way to schedule this? Or a tool to assist? Do we just need to suck it up?
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Chris -

You can definitely manage projects effectively in a matrix environment, but there need to be some basic rules of engagement worked out between the functional managers and the PMs to avoid overallocations. The root problem often traces back to the leadership team approving the start of too many projects (beyond the capacity of the operations group to support).

Sometimes you can get the right conversation going with the leadership team by making the problem visible - inventory all the active projects and who is working on them and that will show the magnitude of the problem.

I agree with Kiron, this has nothing to do with the matrix organizations but with limited resources in the organization. The operations group should hire more people to be able handle the work both in operations as well as in projects. This however is an upper management call. The executive managers must allow the functional managers to hire more people. If they don't then there isn't much you can do about it.

Also the functional managers should be made responsible for the work their direct reports are performing on projects. This however would not help too much. If the functional managers don't have enough people you can't hold them responsible for this.
Schedule and optimising it is always a challenge.

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