Explain three examples of a matrix organisation structure when used in a project environment.
Explain two difficulties that a project manager may experience when working in a matrix environment.
Paul – I struggled to understand what the first part of this question was asking for so am not sure if my answer is right. I also couldn’t think of a third example so wondered what this could be?
Three examples of a matrix organisation structure are as follows:
1. A matrix organisational structure is one where functional and project structures are combined. This means that some functional relationships between staff and some functional offices (such as HR) are retained but that projects are carried out across a business allowing the project manager to choose the team with the best skill set to complete the project.
2. Whereas a functional office relies completely on people working within their functional silos, a matrix office draws together the people with the relevant skill sets from across different silos to work on a given project. At the end of the project they will return to their day-to-day jobs in the relevant silo but the skills they have will be retained within the organisation for use in future projects.
Two difficulties a project manager may experience when working in a matrix environment are as follows:
1. Within a matrix organisation a person’s line manager will generally not be the project manager they are working for. Therefore, conflict can arise between the instruction of the person’s line manager and the project manager. The project manager will need to use their influence effectively to ensure they work well with both their team members and their team members line managers to avoid this conflict. This will help them to work with their team member to produce the project deliverables.
2. Within a matrix organisation a thorough resource management system must be in place to keep track of who is available and what their skill set is. Without this it can be very difficult for the project manager to know what resources are available to them from across the whole organisation. This can lead to them choosing a team based on familiarity rather than skill which could in turn lead to a project not being delivered as successfully as it otherwise would have been with the right people on board.
List and describe five roles associated with a project environment. Include in your answer the responsibilities of each role.
Five roles associated with a project environment are as follows:
- Project Sponsor
- Project Manager
- Project Team
The above roles can be described as follows:
The Project Sponsor is the owner of the business case for a project and is responsible for the ‘why’ of the project. They will generally be a peer of an organisation’s steering group. They will oversee the work of the project manager (although need not be their line manager) and will also arbitrate between the requirements of different users to define the end goal of the project. At the end of a project they will be responsible for signing off on the deliverables based on the recommendation of the users.
The Project Manager is responsible for running the project. They will develop and own the Project Management Plan which determines how a project is run and will also make sure that the project team work in the way set out in the Project Management Plan. They manage the project team, and will also manage any suppliers via a contractual relationship. Although they liaise with the users, they will not decide on any scope changes as this must be done by the sponsor.
Users are those people who will ultimately use the end product of a project and therefore realise it’s benefits fully. They will communicate their requirements to the project sponsor to enable the project scope to be decided and will also inform the sponsor of any changes they need to the requirements. At the end of the project they will advise the sponsor if the deliverables are fit for purpose.
The Project Team are the people responsible for delivering the project deliverables. As part of this they will provide work packages while working to the ultimate deliverable of the project. As specialists and experts they must work with the project manager to identify risks and propose solutions.
Suppliers are parties who have a contractual relationship with the project to supply certain items. They will be managed as an entity by the project manager, often by liaison with a Supplier Project Manager. They must provide regular status reports to the project manager and, as specialists, will help identify risks and propose solutions.
Explain five key differences between the role of the project manager and the project sponsor throughout the life cycle of the project.
1. During the concept phase the project sponsor will be responsible for defining the business case for the project. This will involve talking to the users and stakeholders to write the best business case possible. Generally a project manager would not be that heavily involved at this stage.
2. The definition phase of a project life cycle requires much more involvement from a project manager. It is at this stage that the Project Management Plan, developed and owned by the project manager, is written. This provides much more detail on how the project will be run and so is the responsibility of the project manager. The sponsor will oversee the project manager’s work at this stage and will to sign off on the Project Management Plan.
3. The development phase of the project is when the Project Manager is responsible for the day-to-day running of the project according to the Project Management Plan. The sponsor will oversee their work and there will also be stage reviews where the sponsor must provide their acceptance for the project manager to continue. During this phase the project manager will escalate any risks they encounter to the sponsor who will work with the project manager to resolve them. The project manager must also pass any change requests to the sponsor who will arbitrate between requirements and accept or reject the change as relevant.
4. During the handover and closure stage the project manager will handover the deliverables to the users. The project sponsor will then liaise with the users to sign off on whether the deliverable is fit for purpose. A lessons learned process at this stage would also involve both the project manager and sponsor.
5. Once the project has handed over the project manager takes a step back. The project sponsor will then be responsible for ensuring the deliverable is fit for purpose and realises the benefits which were originally envisaged in the business case.
List and describe two key activities that a project office may undertake.
Explain three distinct benefits of a project office.
Two key activities a project office will undertake are as follows:
1. A project office will undertake many of the administrative tasks related to a project. This can include tasks such as arranging meeting rooms, collating data for reports, configuration management and the keeping up-to-date of risk and issues logs.
2. Project offices may also undertake an assurance role. In doing so they will check that the project is being run according to the Project Management Plan and any standards as set down by the organisation. They will report on assurance to the sponsor and steering group, although it is important to note that they cannot carry out this function if they ever deputise for the project manager as this would lead to a conflict of interest.
Three benefits of a project office are as follows:
1. They free up the project managers time to manage the project more effectively by relieving them of a lot of the administrative burden. By being responsible for collaring reports or organising meetings they allow the project manager to focus on the project and what needs doing.
2. Project offices ensure consistency of approach both within a project but also across projects within the same organisation. This helps increase the chance of successful projects and decrease risks caused by inconsistency.
3. Project offices can also help with more efficient use of resources. A ‘virtual’ project office can call on resources elsewhere in an organisation (for example, planners in a planning department) for the times they are required, without a project needing to employ them full time.