Pros and Cons of a Matrix Organization
In a matrix organization, authority is divided both vertically and horizontally, as in by project and functional area, whereby every employee is answerable to two supervisors: the project supervisor and the functional supervisor (Larson & Gray, 2010). The functional supervisor has the responsibility of overseeing employees in his/her functional unit whereas project supervisors are charged with the responsibility of managing and implementing a project.
Fundamentally, completing a project in a matrix organization requires the use of employees from various functional units. In a strong matrix organization, the organization is somewhat similar to a projectized organization typified by a project manager having a high level of authority and the power to dictate resources. In this regard, the authority and power is vested in the project manager whereby he controls the project budget and the management of administrative staff falls under the project manager (Larson & Gray, 2010). On the other hand, a weak matrix organization is somewhat similar to a functional organization wherein the functional managers have a high level of authority and can preside over work assignments. Furthermore, a matrix organization has a number of pros and cons. Some of the advantages of a matrix organization include resource coordination, specialization, efficient exchange of information, breadth of skill, communication, and flexibility.
With regard to resource coordination, a matrix organizational structure permits supervisors to place emphasis on their expertise areas; for instance, project supervisors place emphasis on attaining the project goals and objectives whereas functional supervisors can place emphasis on employee recruitment, training and hiring. With respect to specialization, it is evident that a matrix organization allows employees to specialize in a specific field that they can excel at (Larson & Gray, 2010). With regard to the breadth of skill, it is evident that a matrix organization are in a constant contact with their counterparts in other functional units through joint project teams, which provides the employees with the opportunity to develop a wide skills set that they would otherwise develop in a functional organizational structure. In relation to communication, the matrix organization facilitates the fluid flow of resources and information between various functional areas, which results in collaboration that enables a project team to tackler more complex objectives. Moreover, flexibility in a matrix organization stems from the sharing of human resources in various projects. Nevertheless, there are some disadvantages of a matrix organization, which includes internal complexity, which stems from employees confusion regarding who is their direct supervisor; internal conflict and costly to maintain.
Overhead expenses increases since a matrix organization requires double management whereas the competition for resources can result in internal conflict (Larson & Gray, 2010). In order for projects to be successful in matrix organization, strong and well define communication is imperative. Other things that need to be done to make projects successful in a matrix organization include close cooperation between functional managers and the project manager in order to avoid conflicts and confusion; timely resolution of conflicts between the project and functional managers and clear documentation and communication of roles and responsibilities in order to mitigate confusion (Larson & Gray, 2010).