Project Management

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Topics: Leadership, Organizational Project Management, Talent Management
Balanced Matrix Organizations
Some organizations choose to have a balanced matrix approach to project management. In doing so, the balance of power is shared between the functional manager and the project manager. It is my thought that this balance means that project resources are given to projects by the functional manager and while on the project, the PM has authority to assign work to the project resources. Some Functional managers think they should also be able to direct the work of the resource while on the project. (i.e. assign project work). What has been your experience when dealing with functional manager who want to extend their authority.
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The type of relationship is not very successful in critical projects, when resource is needed in control with Project. Whenever there are two source of assignment of work, there is always a conflict and continuous prioritization is required.
The problem is when the responsabilities and accounabilities are not understanding. That is not problem with power. The project belongs to the whole organization that have to achieve an strategic objective. The functional manager is accountable for achieving the strategic objective. The way to do that is starting a project. The project manager will help the functional manager to achieve the strategic objective by means to the project. So, there is no problem.
If the responsibilities and authorities are not clearly defined in the project plan, I would say you have to get the project sponsor involved to address this issue.
I would agree with Ayat on this. It is a very sensitive relationship and if roles, responsibilities and split of authority is not clearly defined then conflict is most likely to arise.
There are pros and cons in such arrangement, and I see good communications and co-operations with the functional managers (in both directions) will bring success.
Let's look at it from a different aspect.
Take one example: there is a change of project scope, and as PM you don't need certain resources so you return the resources to the functional department. Of course as PM you don't want to pay the resources for no work, but the functional manager now has the headache of the resources not generating income.
Another example is a PM asks urgently for certain competent resources, but those resources are involved in another project and lead time is very long to get more resources. So what can the functional manager do?
I think usually the responsibility of personal development lies with the individual with the functional manager not the PM. So can the individual have an opinion what kind of projects he/she wants to work on?
Well, the ideal scenario is that the resource plan is very steady for both PM and functional head, but we know in practice that is not easy!
For Project Management point of view it is best to have Project organisation. However the balanced organisation allows to keep the overall reduction of operation cost of company. Most of the companies are doing this in non-critical projects. For critical projects the Project organisation is best.
When we have balanced matrix we must define the responsibility and accountability of resources.
Generally composite organisations are more popular where project organisations and functional organisations both exists. Functional manager can decide how the particular function will be completed in time and cost decided by Project manager.
eg. In our organization engineering is a functional organisation. Project manager give them the job and time schedule and they tell the man hours and resource capability for a particular job. Accordingly they act as Engineering as a separate project in line with our project. So functional manager are working as a project manager also.
Good discussion gents.
I have worked in both matrix and projectized set ups.
For strategic or mission critical projects, as Pankaj and Pravin pointed out , Projectized setup is the only way.

However, in matrix setup, I suggest a good rapport ( personal , technical in office and out of office ) with functional managers who control your resource schedule is an effective way of smoothing resource problem.

If you have a sponsor, the same principle applies ( normally the sponsors do have a higher rank in the organization set up , say Project director or some executive director or VP/SVP ). Situations will be there not to your liking. So, rely on your SOFT Skills to move and shake a few heads here and there to achieve what you want
1 reply by Nitinn Gokhle
Feb 14, 2016 9:04 AM
Nitinn Gokhle
I agree with your reply Sankar .. It applies in functional as well as matrix organizations .. I have faced this situation when I was working in a functional organization .. The project manager had to develop a rapport with the functional manager to release human resources for the project ..
Roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined
As a project manager, your relationship with a functional manager is mostly as a peer or colleague. Usually, neither has authority over the other.

That means, you have to influence your "supplier", perhaps even negotiate with her. Make sure you have a good trust base. Leverage your referent power.
As a software technical consultant/developer who has grown an interest in project management I find many things that I read about project management to be in sharp contrast with the reality that I found in the organizations for which I have worked.

One thing that I don't understand is the power struggle between the functional managers and project managers. Usually the functional managers are responsible for the budget and the resources of a department and they sometimes organize the work by starting projects. The functional managers however are not necessarily trained in project management and here is where the project managers help. In this scenario a conflict between the functional and the project manager is virtually impossible.

From my experience working on several projects the role of the project manager is not to exercise power but to assist with their project management skills those who do have power.

For example in the department where I work as a consultant the functional managers are exploring the possibility to contract a project management consultancy firm to help them with their projects. Probably they are not pleased with the work performed by the project managers that are already working for the company.

Regarding the relationship between functional and project managers I have found that the functional managers sit higher in the hierarchy on different levels but usually they don't have direct authority over the project managers who work for different departments and report to some sort for functional managers for project managers. This basically makes the project managers to be peers with the team members rather than with the functional managers as employee sitting at the bottom of the hierarchy but working in different departments. Many times the project managers don't even work for the organization but they are contractors working for some sort of consultancy firm.
1 reply by Pravin Kumar Shrivastava
Feb 14, 2016 2:56 AM
Pravin Kumar Shrivastava
This is a very ideal relationship between PM and Functional Manager. In reality there are lot of challenges.
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