What is a balanced matrix? What are some of its inherent problems?
1. Define briefly what is meant by a matrix structure (organization).
Matrix is a practical organizational option because it represents a project structure in which people with different skills and experiences can be brought together to work as a team (pg. 164). Matrix structures make the best use of resources from various functional departments on a full- or part-time bases to meet project objectives (pg. 164). Work needed on the project are estimated and negotiated with their functional managers when the project plan is prepared (pg. 165).
2. List and discuss what you consider to be the most important advantages and disadvantages of the matrix organization.
The biggest advantage is that it provides an efficient use of resources. It is less expensive where workers can be used part-time. Allocation of resources can be negotiated between the project manager and the functional manager according to the priorities established by the top management (pg. 173). One other advantage that I personally like and would take advantage of is that it develops project managers. A potential candidate with an ability to work across functional boundaries can be transferred to the project office as an assistant project manager and groomed to be a future project manager (pg. 174).
A major disadvantage is that the project manager will have two bosses. Two bosses can cause conflict and a project manager may also feel lack of control. Another big disadvantage is that it is complex. Can cause complexity in the following areas: difficulties in monitoring and controlling, complex information flow, fast reaction difficulties, and conflicting guidance (pg. 175).
3. In many project environments the organizational structure is shifted in favor of the strong matrix structure. What are some specific reasons for this?
A strong matrix is characterized by the balance of power in favor of the project manager (pg. 167). When a particular project or program is very important to the future of the organization, or the project budget and schedule are very tight, the project manager is given a strong positional authority (pg. 166). The project manager may also feel that with stronger organizational power, he or she will obtain better project performance (pg. 166). Strong matrix can also be used to minimize the problems of managing under the “two-boss” system (pg. 167).
4. What is a balanced matrix? What are some of its inherent problems?
A balanced matrix distributes authority, influence, and decision-making power between functional managers and project managers or coordinators (pg. 168). The inherent problem is that the degree of conflict tends to be higher in the balanced matrix than in the two other forms (project and functional matrix) because the predominant power is less clearly defined (pg. 168). The balanced matrix is like an ongoing fencing match in which intense competition for decision-making power and influence may continue throughout the project life cycle (pg. 168).
5. What kinds of training does successful matrix implementation require?
Teamwork is especially critical for tapping the collective intellects of professionals and turning their ideas into successful results (pg. 185). Not all technical specialists collaborate effectively, because of this training is required. Organizational development techniques based on behavioral science, such as sensitivity training and team building, can be applied to improve interpersonal skills (pg. 185). Also professional egos and divided allegiance must be resolved. Project managers must be trained in interpersonal skills in order to relate effectively to the professionals who are the life blood of most projects (pg. 184).
6. Team members in a matrix structure often consider the functional manager as their real boss as opposed to the project manager. Explain why.
Personnel in a matrix structure may consider the line or discipline (functional) manager as their boss because he or she represents a “home base” to which they would normally return after the project is completed (pg. 178). Also performance evaluations and promotions may be determined by functional managers (pg. 178).