A Guide to Matrix Organizational Structures

When managing projects and initiatives within an organization, the efficient distribution and sharing of resources is a top priority. A matrix organizational structure allows businesses to maximize their resources by deploying them across projects and departments. 

Discover more about what a matrix organizational structure is, the pros and cons, and how it can help your business achieve its goals and objectives.

What is a matrix structure?

A matrix organizational structure is a workplace model where employees report to more than one manager. In a matrix organization, the available staff and resources are shared across departments, projects, teams, and functions. This can be useful when there are limited resources available within the organization or when particular expertise is needed simultaneously and across departments. 

What are the different kinds of matrix organization structures?

Though several types of matrix structures exist, three major matrix management types are most prevalent in organizations. There is a delicate balance of power between the functional manager and the project manager in each one of them. Let’s see how matrix structures are classified:

Functional matrix structure/ weak matrix

In a functional matrix organization, the project manager has a minor role to play and holds primary responsibility for administrative tasks. Primary power and authority lies with a functional manager who has a direct reporting relationship with the organizational staff.

Strong matrix structure

Strong matrix structures are characterized by a project manager who’s in charge of project budget, staff, and resources.Here, the functional manager plays a minor role with limited authority.  

Balanced matrix 

Functional and project managers enjoy an equal share in staff and budget in a balanced matrix structure. To get better organizational outcomes, larger organizations typically tend to utilize diverse matrix structures in different functions and levels.

What are the benefits of a matrix organizational structure?

Implementing a matrix environment in your organization can be quite rewarding and lead to better business outcomes, such as:

  • Effective utilization of organizational resources, equipment, and staff
  • Smooth flow of communication between different departments and functions
  • Improved decision making with two parallel chains of command
  • Enhanced employee autonomy that encourages employees to contribute across the organization
  • Increases employee interactions across functions, projects and promotes a spirit of teamwork all around

What are the cons of a matrix organizational structure?

Even though a matrix organizational structure helps achieve project efficiencies leading to enhanced team and individual productivity, it comes with its own downsides.

  • Multiple lines of reporting relationships can delay organizational decision-making 
  • Sharing of employees across functions may make them confused about their work responsibilities leading to reduced productivity levels
  • Internal power struggles may ensue between the project and the functional manager
  • Higher employee costs with the presence of multiple managers

Why use a matrix organizational structure in project management?

Using a matrix organizational structure in project management can help drive your team forward by eliminating silos and enhancing team efficiencies in these situations:

  • Manage large and complex projects within an organization that has a very defined timeline for delivery
  • Realize a better return on investment from organizational resources such as employees, equipment, and other resources by using them in multiple projects
  • Achieve organizational goals faster by deploying employees and resources in a flexible and agile manner as and when required 

Tips for matrix organizational structure success

Want to set up the matrix environment for your organization or project?

Consider these five tips that will help you succeed faster:

  1. Identify the primary reporting manager and let your team know
  2. Schedule a brief training session with your team (employees and managers) on what is a matrix structure and how it works 
  3. Set up the project goals and charter clearly before your manager and team start working on it
  4. Use a robust project management software where multiple managers can communicate with each other in real-time and collaborate smoothly to stay in sync with their project goals
  5. Tackle small disagreements immediately to stop them from growing into bigger conflicts
  6. Promote an equal distribution of power and authority amongst both managers 

Using matrix organizational structures in Wrike

Set your organization up for success by giving them a flexible, versatile project management solution. Get a 360-degree project view that cuts down on weekly check-ins and lets you review project progress in real-time.

Good companywide work management software can save time, money and avoid unnecessary project hassle.

Empower your employees by using Wrike as a customizable, centralized information repository, and real-time internal communication hub. Start a free two-week trial of Wrike’s project management software and connect your entire organization to their new shared workspace.

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