Info

- Power struggles

Moderate

High

Moderate

- Heightened conflict

Low

Moderate

Moderate

- Reaction time

Moderate

Slow

Fast

- Difficulty in monitoring and controlling

Moderate

High

Low

- Excessive overhead

Moderate

High

High

- Experienced stress

Moderate

High

Moderate

• Motivation and Commitment Inherent in all types of matrix is a high degree of involvement in decision making, which should enhance personal commitment and motivation. Team spirit, however, is likely to be high under a Project Matrix since participant involvement is more project focused. Still, many specialists find interacting with different types of people and performing a wide range of activities frustrating. It is difficult to conclude which structure will elicit the highest levels of commitment and motivation.

Disadvantages:

• Power Struggles Matrix is predicated on tension between functional managers and project managers who are in competition for control over the same set of resources. Such conflict is viewed as a necessary mechanism for achieving an appropriate balance between complex technical issues and unique project requirements. While the intent is noble, the effect is sometimes analogous to opening Pandora's box. Legitimate conflict spills over to a more personal level, resulting from conflicting objectives and accountabilities, disputes about credit and blame, and attempts to redress infringements on professional domains. The Balanced Matrix is more susceptible to these kinds of problems since power and authority are more negotiable under this system. Power struggles should be reduced under functional and project matrices since the relative authority of each party is more clearly defined.

• Heightened Conflict Any situation in which equipment and people are being shared across projects lends itself to conflict and competition for scarce resources. A Functional Matrix, however, should alleviate some of these problems since specialists can directly appeal to their functional superiors to resolve conflicting demands on their time and energy.

• Reaction Time While shared decision making enhances the flexibility of the Balanced Matrix, the drawback is the time necessary to reach agreement. The Project Matrix should produce faster results since the project man ager is not necessarily bound to a consensus style of decision making, which is formalized in a Balanced Matrix. For the same reason, the Functional Matrix should be quicker than the Balanced Matrix, but not as fast as the Project Matrix since decision making has to be coordinated across functional lines.

• Monitoring and Control Matrix is susceptible to passing the buck, abdication of responsibility, and cost accounting nightmares. This is particularly true for Balanced Matrix in which responsibility is explicitly shared across functional and project lines. While in principle each functional area is responsible for its particular segment of the project under a Functional Matrix, contributions naturally overlap, making it difficult to determine accountability. The Project Matrix centralizes control over the project, permitting more efficient cost-control and evaluation systems.

• Excessive Overhead Ail three forms of matrix increase administrative overhead by instituting the role of project manager. Administrative costs, in the form of salaries, are likely to be higher for the Balanced and Project forms of matrix due to the greater roles of the project manager.

• Experienced Stress The very nature of development projects tends to make it a very stressful experience for participants. Matrix management appears to exacerbate this problem. Multiple reporting relationships and divided commitment across projects heighten role conflict and ambiguity. Stress is likely to be a more serious problem where ambiguity is the greatest: the Balanced Matrix. Both the Functional Matrix and the Project Matrix are likely to reduce ambiguity and associated stress, since lines of authority and responsibility are more clearly defined.

Overall, these comparisons indicate that the advantages and disadvantages associated with matrix are not necessarily true for all three forms of matrix and that each type of matrix has its own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. The comparisons also suggest that the Project Matrix is superior in many ways to the other two forms of matrix. The Project Matrix is likely to enhance project integration, decrease reaction time, diminish power struggles, and improve the control and monitoring of project activities and costs. On the down side, technical quality may suffer since functional areas have less control over their contributions.

The Functional Matrix is likely to improve technical quality as well as provide a better system for managing conflict across projects. The Achilles' heel is that functional control is maintained at the likely expense of poor project integration. The Balanced Matrix represents a compromise between the two extreme approaches and as such shares to a lesser degree several of the advantages of the two other approaches. At the same time, it is the most delicate system to manage and is more likely to succumb to many of the problems associated with matrix.

The questions that need to be addressed are: What has been the experience of actual companies with these different matrix structures? Which form of matrix is the most widely used? More to the point, does practice support theory? Do practitioners support our conclusion that the Project Matrix is the most effective form of matrix for developing new products and services?

The Study This study is part of a research program sponsored by the Project Management Institute (PMI). PMI is the professional association for practitioners of project management and has over 5000 members worldwide. Data were collected by means of a mailed questionnaire which was sent to randomly selected PMI members in both Canada and the United States. Repeated mailings yielded a 64 percent response rate. This study is based on the 510 respondents who reported that they were primarily involved in development projects directed at creating new products, services, and/or processes.

Over 30 percent of the sample were either project managers or directors of project management programs within their firm. Sixteen percent were members of top management (i.e., president, vice-president, or division manager), while 26 percent were managers in functional areas such as marketing, operations, and accounting. Eighty percent share the common experience of having been a project manager at some time during their career.

The sample represents a wide variety of industries. For example, 40 percent were involved in developing pharmaceutical products. 10 percent were in aerospace, and 10 percent were involved in developing computer and data processing products. Among the other industries represented in lesser numbers are telecommunications, medical instruments, glass products, petrochemical products, software development. and housewares goods.

As we report our findings, we are keenly aware that individual perceptions do not provide the best basis for drawing inferences about effectiveness. Still, the breadth of the study provides a useful referent point for assessing the current status of matrix in North America.

Matrix: Usage In order to ascertain experience r with matrix, respondents were asked two questions Has your organization ever used matrix management to develop new products or services? If so, what is the ',. likelihood matrix will be used again? If they re- J sponded that it would not be used again, then they J were asked to state the reasons why. Figure 1 repre-sents the results for these two questions. i

Over three-quarters of respondents reported that jÉ their company has used matrix. Of those who re- j§ sponded yes, 89 percent felt that matrix would proba- » bly or definitely continue to be used. Only 1 percent iff reported that matrix would definitely not be used again. Among the reasons given for dropping matrix were breakdowns in coordination between functional tt-and project managers, a shift toward using project ^ teams to complete projects, and the size of their orga- 5 nization was too small to take advantage of a matrix system. Still, the overwhelming opinion was that matrix is the dominant mode for managing development projects in the organizations sampled and will continue to be so.

These results address matrix in general. The usage of the three types of matrix was measured by having respondents indicate the number of current projects ("many," "few," or "none") in their organization that utilized each structure (see Figure 2). Respondents based their responses on a capsule description of each structure (as presented in Table 1).

All three forms of matrix were widely used. Project Matrix was the most popular, with over 78 percent of the respondents reporting that this form of matrix was being used to manage development projects in their company. Seventy-four percent reported that their firm used the Functional Matrix while 68 percent reported using the Balanced Matrix.

Since size affects economies of scale, availability of resources, and integration requirements, usage rates for the different structures were compared to the size of the firm. The only significant variation occurred in companies with less than 100 employees. Over 84

Has your company ever used "matrix management" for development projects?

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