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The matrix organization - for whom and why? 


If you are a project manager putting together a team, you will also have to deal with how this project team should be organized. And although you will be dealing with process organization in project management, we think it's worth taking a look at the bigger picture. And that is over to the organizational structures. There, matrix organization is an example of an organizational system that can inspire you - especially because it does not require hierarchical structures. Interested? Then let us show you how matrix organization and project management fit together: In the following, we will explain the matrix organization in simple terms, and then we will look into the question of how matrix organization and project management fit together.

What is the matrix organization?

Matrix organization is a method of giving structure to a company. It defines the instruction and information paths and describes the job relationships. The proximity between matrix organization and project management is therefore already apparent here. One of the factors of matrix organization is that it tries to combine the best of functional organization and divisional organization in a multi-line system. How is a matrix organization structured and how does it work? The name says it all: this type of multi-line organization can be represented in a matrix.

The functions of a company (e.g. production, sales, marketing) are placed on one axis; the objects of one company on the other. The objects include, for example, the products or services, but also customers or projects. If you add vertical or horizontal lines to this coordinate system, starting from each entry, a matrix results from these lines, which stand for the divisional and functional structure – and form several intersections.

Each of these points of intersection represents a (project) team whose team leader has a twofold authority: firstly, the person responsible at the functional level (disciplinary line function); secondly, the person responsible at the object level (technical authority). The company management is separated from this matrix, but is connected to the heads of the individual objects and functions.

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How can a matrix organization be simply explained? 

When defining the matrix organization, it is also possible without geometry: in the end, the quintessence (and one of the biggest advantages) of the matrix organization is that employees have to report to two superiors. One supervisor is responsible for the technical issues, the other for the personnel issues. 


What are the advantages and disadvantages of matrix organization?

One of the advantages of matrix organization is certainly that it enables short communication channels. Furthermore, the following applies to matrix organization: 

  • By dividing the team or project management into two parts, those
               responsible can concentrate on their core area concentrate. 
  • On the other hand, employees can contact the person with the technical
               or disciplinary expertise. 
  • The dual management function relieves the burden on management at
               board level. 
  • Because quick decisions are made by the right people, the team gains
               overall agility. 
  • The hierarchy, both at company and team or project level, is defined by
               the matrix organization significantly flatter. 

The biggest disadvantage of matrix organization is the downside of one of its advantages: The "double management" also results in the necessity of double reporting - which leads to a greater burden and possible overtaxing of the employees. Other disadvantages of the matrix organization that can occur are 

  • Two lines of command also mean that more management staff are
  • Precisely because in the matrix organization personnel and professional
               competence "mix" and there is no conventional hierarchy, it can lead to
               competence scuffles among employees. 
  • At the latest when success is imminent, both lines of command will
               probably want to claim it for themselves. Conversely, in the event of f   
               failure, the other responsible authority to whom one can point remains.


Where is the matrix organization used?

The matrix organization can only be used by companies that are structured with at least two structure dimensions (functional and divisional) - the matrix organization is therefore more recommended for large companies. Overall, it is the project-oriented industries that benefit from the matrix organization.


And what does this have to do with project management?

We mentioned it at the beginning: basically, the matrix organization is a form of organizational structure. But you can also pick out the best aspects of the matrix organization to organize your project team.  

This includes, for example, the "two-line system" for project management. Broken down to the project level, this means that both the project manager and the head of department are authorized to issue instructions and make decisions in the course of the project. This provides your project team with short decision-making paths and cross-disciplinary flexibility. 

But what about the already known disadvantage that the matrix organization requires a higher degree of communication and conflict resolution approaches and ideally there should be the greatest possible transparency in the two-line system? This is where solutions such as the project and resource management software Can Do.


How do Can Do solutions help me in the matrix organization?

Potential conflicts, increased communication efforts, additional qualified personnel: The disadvantages of matrix organization are almost deterrent ... but if you design your project management on the basis of a project management software like Can Do, you can easily overcome these hurdles. Can Do manages the division into functional and divisional aspects: Because it not only supports the functional side with project management, demand management and analyses, but also understands the divisional organization with resource and skill management and budget management. And in this way Can Do balances out the negative points of the matrix organization:

  • Can Do is a project management software that helps you to deal with
               your projects on the basis of artificial intelligence. Occurring difficulties,
               bottlenecks or timing problems are detected early on, though.
               Therefore, conflicts can be avoided
    thanks to Can Do. And because the
               software is intuitive to use and makes the work more fun, team
               communication is 
    easy and more pleasure than duty with Can Do.
    • Can Do offers you a sophisticated demand management system that
                 allows you to submit your applications quickly and get projects off the
                 ground faster. Demands can be managed centrally and the progress of
                 all projects can be viewed. This reduces the workload for management
    • The resource management of Can Do helps you to manage projects and
      o strategically coordinate personnel. Resource conflicts between
                 project and line organization are thus balanced and avoided from the                 outset. 

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