The Matrixdepartmental Approach

This organizational method in its simplest form has each department physically separated from each other. Individual members of a design discipline, for example, electrical department, can work on many small projects at a time. Information flows down from either the chief department head or his assistant to members of the department. Figure 2-1 illustrates typical project organization using this approach.

The assigned project manager needs to be the key catalyst in making sure that project objectives, schedules, budgets and information between the many groups are will communicated and coordinated. The advantage of this organizational method is the economic utilization of the design/service groups on many small projects at the same time. The primary disadvantage is that communication and coordination of information may be hindered since departments are physically separated and information flows down through design/ services supervisors. Allegiance of personnel is primary to the department for which they work. This loyalty to the department rather than to the project sometimes causes friction between departments on a project. For example, coordination of the physical location of ducts, piping and electrical wirewaysmay involve three departments. It is critical that compromises be made so that there are no interferences between routing of ducts, piping and electrical wireways. Many times a change in scope of one department impacts on another' department's work. Unless these departments have a good communication link, delays and cost increases could easily arise.

There are greater inefficiencies/conflicts between design, purchasing and construction groups in the matrix/departmental organization than there are between the industrial design groups. Many companies have formed "small projects departments" to reduce the problems of the matrix organization. With the matrix organization, authority/ responsibility/accountability is diffused. The project manager becomes a coordinator rather than a decision maker.

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