- Usefull Links:
Manager Tools Podcast – managing in project organisation
Manager Tools Podcast – Race don’t chase
Results without Authority – Tom Kendrick
The challenge in Matrix Organisation is the struggle for resources. Let’s review the different situations for a project manager and address some pre-conceptions. I will also mention some best practices.
Here is my summary of what is the typical point of view for a project manager on this topic. I am sure you can recognise some situations.
- Not having the direct authority over team members
- Not being able to choose or fire team members
- Asking for more resources
- Not getting the priority when working with central support departments (Controlling, Production, Testing…
The project manager feels a lack of power in matrix organisation. He hasn’t got full authority, he hasn’t got sufficient leverage over the organisation and his equation to solve has got fixed parameters on which he has no choices. Life would be so much better in a projectised organisation… We could argue the whole day on that but still, the job needs to be done.
but how ?
- Increasing Resources or Project Team
An example taken in the podcasts above. If the CEO of your company was to agree to all the departments who are requesting resources, budget, people, what do you think would happen ? they would probably bust the budget by X% and loose all profitability.
So you can forget about your budget increase or getting more people – on the first instance.
The psychology behind the title of “project manager” implies a certain feeling of power. There are responsibilities and budget associated to the role, it is in general a senior position. Tradition requires “leading skills” which relates to a pre-eminent position. The Project is the embodiment of the righteousness of the project manager actions: “The project needs to be completed therefore I am right”.
The whole concept helps reinforcing the feeling of role authority. IT IS WRONG to believe that the best source of authority is the “Position”.Agreed, The most visible source of authority is Power of position but is is also the less effective if you don’t have power of reward or power to coerce. Both of them are usually the responsibility of the line manager and HR, for example giving promotion or de-moting. Some companies have reward systems which can be used as lever. Matrix organisations dilute the authority of the project manager overall.
The second main source is the expertise power. It grows with experience and peer recognition of your skills and knowledge in your field.
But the most important and most difficult to tap is the relationship power. This one comes with effort and time and is the most reliable. Developping your relationship with your team and peer enable better understanding, common goals and mutual support. This is the one you should count on, especially in difficult moment.
If your company runs a portfolio of similar projects, you are most likely to be impacted my resource sharing and multi-project planning. Your other porject manager colleagues maybe your best friends, the lack resources implies you will be competing against each other for the availability of the best people, facilities or material.
If there is a prioritisation process, you need to identify it and make it work for you. Provide metrics, figures to the decision maker so he can decide what is best to do. “The project will be delayed” has no meaning for the CEO. Talk the right language.
Even without formal escalation process, there is a permanent lever to be careful of: the motivation factor. You will obtain best results if people are attracted to work in your team or motivated by your project. It is not a mystery, every implicitly prioritise according to it his or her preferences. It is all depends on you to influence in this direction.
- Back to “More resources”
Let’s say you manage to get the best of your organisation by using the ideas above, still you cannot complete your project as required without a real push.
- Have you build up your business case (with figures and comparison to historical data…) to demonstrate and justify your claim ?
- Have you addressed it to the right stakeholder or communicated it in the right way ? (See “Stakeholder management” before answering yes)
- Have you looked at your own inefficiencies and reduced waste in your project ?
Waste can have multiple shape but is anything which doesn’t add value to the customer. (” See Lean in non Manufacturing World“) like prioritization of the work to perform to reduce useless tasks, preventing engineering to over-specify or loop multiple time for a document review by using more effective methods (Co-engineering, workshops, involve manufacturer in spec definition), Avoid “scope creep”… Review the interfaces on your project organisation to reduce ineffective communication… coach your team members…