Matrix, Too Many Small Projects And Same Shared Resources

Is it possible for a matrix to get out of control because of too many small projects, each competing for the same shared resources? If so, how many projects are too many? How can management control the number of projects? Does your answer depend on whether the organization is project-driven or non-project-driven?

In defining, the matrix organization structure is a combination of two or more types of organization structure (Kuprenas, 2003).  The combination is a balance which helps organizations to achieve higher efficiency, readiness, and quick market adaptation. Hence they can respond faster to demand that arises from the market and customer which decreases the lead time and financial actual to produce a new product.The matrix structure is designed for people to work on more than one project and is this applicable mostly in a dynamic environment; however multiple concurrent projects in a matrix environment create intrinsic risks for all the projects(Kuprenas, 2003). These results from accountability where for example a manager is entrusted with project management, they might prioritize some of the projects forgoing others in a such acase where resources are to be allocated there may not be equal allocation due to more knowledge on one project compared to the other one. Other specific risks may include; bad decision-making, slow response times, control issues, and staff stress and turnover.

The observable fact of individuals working on multiple projects is not limited to matrix structures only: in manyorganizations resources also work on more than one project at a time (Engwall&Jerbrant, 2003). While it is often vital for individuals to be allocated simultaneously to more than one project, there are obviously limits to the number of projects one person can work on efficiently. Depending on the key resources an organization is able to determine the number of active projects they can handle within a given time frame. Within  an organization where multiple projects are handled , there needs to be acomprehensive project plan development as part of the corporate strategy, through project screening and project portfolio management to preparation of individual projects, with resources (including funds and key people) allocated to each project(Engwall&Jerbrant, 2003).

In an organization the number of projects handled doesn’t matter and it does not mean that many projects cause failure; there just needs to be plan where some of the projects are active and others are impending. The large number of projects and the resulting conflict over resources put undue stress on resources employed on concurrent projects. Frustration comes to the managers due to the fact that their personnel are constantly distracted by side projects that are not critical to the success of the organization or their department. Formal prioritization of projects is therefore essential.

For the management to be able to control the number of projects and avoid conflict of resources, setting up a feasible schedule for a set of concurrent projects is no small challenge but it is essential that the relative priorities of projects are formally definedand that such priorities are not frequently changed(Engwall&Jerbrant, 2003). Top management support and ownership is one of the key success factors in multiple-project environments. Without such involvement, local optima are pursued. At the early stages of a project, rough-cut capacity planning is sufficient; but, as part of the gate criteria for assessing a project phase, comprehensive allocation of resources should already have been done for each project phase before the phase is approved.

The study carried out for this particular question is that the organization is project- driven and there are many projects being run by the organization simultaneously. The condition is that resources are not moved from one project to another in a ‘fire fighting’ mode. There can be a possible solution to the problems of accountability, response time, and control: the project manager sub-contracts the work to the functional departments, and the functional departments contract labor to the projects.

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