Project Management: Key Players in a Matrix Environment

In a matrix environment, key players have critical roles in every project's success. Working in a matrix environment requires that the project manager deal with the styles, interests, and demands of more people who have some degree of control over his project’s resources, goals, and objectives than in a functional or projectized structure.

Critical roles in a matrix environment are

  • Project manager

  • Project team members:

  • Functional managers

  • Upper management

The project manager

If you’re the project manager, you’re responsible for all aspects of the project. Being responsible doesn’t mean you have to do the whole project yourself, but you do have to see that every activity is completed satisfactorily.

In this role, the project manager is specifically responsible for the following:

  • Determining objectives, schedules, and resource budgets

  • Ensuring you have a clear, feasible project plan to reach your performance targets

  • Identifying and managing project risks

  • Creating and sustaining a well-organized, focused, and committed team

  • Selecting or creating your team’s operating practices and procedures

  • Monitoring performance against plans and dealing with any problems that arise

  • Resolving priority, work approach, or interpersonal conflicts

  • Identifying and facilitating the resolution of project issues and problems

  • Controlling project changes

  • Reporting on project activities

  • Keeping your clients informed and committed

  • Accomplishing objectives within time and budget targets

  • Contributing to your team members’ performance appraisals

Project team members

Project team members must satisfy the requests of both their functional managers and their project managers. Team members have the following responsibilities:

  • Performing tasks in accordance with the highest standards of technical excellence in your field

  • Performing assignments on time and within budget

  • Maintaining the special skills and knowledge required to do the work well

In addition, you’re responsible for working with and supporting your team members’ project efforts:

  • Considering the effect your actions may have on your team members’ tasks

  • Identifying situations and problems that may affect team members’ tasks

  • Keeping your team members informed of your progress, accomplishments, and any problems you encounter

Functional managers

Functional managers are responsible for orchestrating their staff’s assignments among different projects. In addition, they provide the necessary resources for their staff to perform their work in accordance with the highest standards of technical excellence.

Specifically, functional managers are responsible for the following:

  • Developing or approving plans that specify the type, timing, and amount of resources required to perform tasks in their area of specialty

  • Ensuring team members are available to perform their assigned tasks for the promised amount of time

  • Providing technical expertise and guidance to help team members solve problems related to their project assignments

  • Providing the equipment and facilities needed for a person to do his work

  • Helping people maintain their technical skills and knowledge

  • Ensuring members of the functional group use consistent methodological approaches on all their projects

  • Completing team members’ performance appraisals

  • Recognizing performance with salary increases, promotions, and job assignments

  • Approving team members’ requests for annual leave, administrative leave, training, and other activities that take time away from the job

Upper management

Upper management creates the organizational environment; oversees the development and use of operating policies, procedures, and practices; and encourages and funds the development of required information systems.

More specifically, upper management is responsible for the following:

  • Creating the organizational mission and goals that provide the framework for selecting projects

  • Setting policies and procedures for addressing priorities and conflicts

  • Creating and maintaining labor and financial information systems

  • Providing facilities and equipment to support project work

  • Defining the limits of managers’ decision-making authority

  • Helping to resolve project issues and decisions that can’t be handled successfully at lower levels in the organization

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