What is Matrix Organization?
Matrix organization is a special type of problem-solving form of an organization that combines two or more organizational structures. It may combine line, functional, line & staff, etc. It is formed to complete various types of projects of specific and unique nature. It is applicable in modern, unique, and large-scale organizations.
Matrix organization structure is also known as grid or project management structure. It requires diverse technical and administrative experts to adjust efficiently with the dynamic and rapidly changing environment of business.
The matrix management is difficult to balance, but, when it appropriately balanced it provides the benefits of increased performance and productivity for an organization.
In matrix organization structure, the overall functional job is given to functional managers, and different projects are given to a team of specialists, known as project managers. The team members may be from various functional areas such as production, finance, marketing, research, and development, etc. This team provides support to the general manager to complete the project in the given time frame.
Generally, a matrix organization is a combination and interaction of functional and project managers. Project managers are responsible for the overall direction and operation of the activities of the projects. The functional managers are responsible for providing technical guidance and skilled functional staff and completing the project within the standard to technical guidance.
The authority of functional managers flows vertically downwards but the authority of project managers flows horizontally crossing vertical lines. Here, each subordinate works under two superiors: one is a project manager and another is the functional manager. This structure does not follow the unity of command and scalar chain. This organization is more democratic, human, and participative, and it maintains collaboration and coordination among a wide range of peoples.
Advantages of Matrix Organization
Better Coordination and Control
In a matrix organization, the main responsibility of the project manager is to maintain coordination of interrelated factors of a project. He has to communicate with both vertical and horizontal line of authorities so that the project work run smoothly. Similarly, functional managers are responsible for technical and administrative guidance to projects. This leads to better and more effective control over regular operations.
Adaptable to Dynamic Environment
The matrix structure is adaptable to the frequently changing and uncertain environment of the business. The project managers have functional independence and they can get quick feedback with information related to projects. Thus, a quick decision can be made in time, which contributes to reducing the adverse effects of any sudden change in the business environment.
Maximum Use of Resources
In matrix organizational structure, many projects are handled at a time. As such, there is more possible to use more resources including manpower. The specialization staff, experts, and other resources of a completed project can be used in other projects. Thus, the available resources can be used within the organization and the wastage of resources can be minimized.
Matrix structure emphasizes participative management. Here, people are working together on a project as a team. High-level management provides a motivational atmosphere within the organization. It takes suggestions, information, ideas from functional and project managers before making the commitment of members to complete the given work within the given standards and time.
Sufficient Time To Top Management
Matrix management encourages the delegation of authority to project managers. Project managers have the authority to make decisions related to the day-to-day operation of the projects. This provides sufficient time for top-level management to make strategic planning and policies rather than operational activities.
Since specialists and experts are involved in many inter-disciplinary areas, there is the possibility of quality performance and output. Similarly, specialists from any inter-disciplinary area interact with each other to get a better opportunity to expand technical excellence into many inter-disciplinary areas and also in many activities. Again, this contributes to developing the overall working efficiency of the organization.
Development of Teamwork
In matrix management, many members, from both project and functional areas, involve in achieving common objectives. They interact with each other and develop mutual and close relations with each other. Also, both project and functional managers play the role of coordinator among them. This working environment develops a feeling of team spirit among the members.
Disadvantages of Matrix Organization
Violation of Unity of Command
In a matrix structure, subordinates have to follow instructions from more than one superior. Generally, they receive orders from functional managers as well as from project managers. In some cases, subordinates may receive instructions from both the superiors at a time, which confuses the subordinates. To avoid this problem, frequent and comprehensive communication among the project and functional managers is necessary.
Matrix management maximizes administration cost. Here, specialists from the project as well as functional authorities involve in project work. It maximizes paperwork and other information costs. Besides, it is essential to pay lump-sum remuneration to functional and project specialists.
Problem of Over Specialization
In some situations, matrix organization creates a problem of over-specialization. Specialists from both functional and project works, gather to solve many complex problems of the organization. As many experts gather to solve problems, in some cases, they waste valuable time discussing unrelated subject matters. Thus, there is a possibility of delay in decision-making.
Difficult To Balance
Matrix organization structure demands a high level of interpersonal relations and skill. It is essential to involve both functional and project specialists. Besides, it is essential to maintain balance among these authorities to bring about uniformity in organizational performance. In the practical field, it is more difficult to maintain a balance among these authorities, especially if they have no positive attitude towards each other.
Feeling of Insecurity
A feeling of insecurity among the employees is one of the limitations of the matrix structure. In many cases, the project runs only for a fixed duration. After completion of the defined work, there is more probability of the dissolution of the project. In such a situation, an unemployment problem may arise if another project is not available to the organization.
Lack of Wide Coordination
The limit factor of the matrix management creates problems in maintaining wide coordination among all the mechanisms of the organization. A project manager has been given a fixed time to coordinate all the mechanisms to complete the given work within the fixed time. As the time factor is limited, the manager can not maintain the wide coordination among various departments and authorities.
Lack of Commitment
In a matrix organization, many specialists and experts are drawn from different functional departments in a project. They are generally appointed in a project only for a limited period. Their role is to provide technical and administrative support to the project manager. However, the project manager does not have the line authority to coordinate and control this personnel. Hence, a project manager is unable to make a commitment to achieve the projects in time.