Project Server and Matrix Organisations

Posted By Posted by: Laith Adel on July 17, 2014

Most organisations I have worked with are functional or a matrix organisation, i.e. they group staff to separate ‘functional’ units (based on specialisations and roles). Mostly these units work on activities assigned to its resources only by a line manager (i.e. local activities). These activities are usually BAU, administrative and service request activities. However these functional units, also provide the business with resources to execute projects tasks across functional units but more importantly assigned to its resources by a Project Manager (not by a line manager). The ‘local activities’ and ‘project tasks’ have independent existence and separate goals, but happen to run simultaneously, therefore there is constant competition between different project managers and line managers concerning priorities and resources.

Most of these tasks and activities are dependent on the same resources for their execution, which means that scheduling of the resource allocation is significantly important, when one activity or task had problems, other activities and tasks are effected directly, because resources were redistributed.

The question that I get asked quite frequently is how Project Server can address this challenge, well from the tool perspective there are really only two ways:

  1. Create Projects for BAU type activities (that are not projects)
  2. Set your resources availability (for project work) to be the resources maximum available minus a proportion that you dedicate for BAU type of activities.

Obviously there are pros and cons for each way, but in general my rule of thumb is, if the organisation likes to have the functional/line manager manage the BAU activities (i.e. who should what / for how long and how …etc.) then the first option would make more sense. Other organisations like to have their resources (staff) to own and manage their BAU activities (team meetings, chat over the desk, etc.) if this is the case then the second option would be more applicable.

There is also a third option, a hybrid option between 1 and 2. This is achieved by categorising the BAU type activities into small (like responding to incidents if we are talking IT) or large (like service requests, etc). The small BAU activities are dealt with using option 2 (set a percentage of people’s time), while the major BAU activities are dealt with using option 1 (create a project – per unit or team – to manage them).

We hope you find this useful and look forward to hearing how you manage this problem.

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