Unfortunately for sci-fi movie buffs , the matrix organizational structure has nothing to do with epic battles or overthrowing our robot overlords.
But don’t worry, we’ll break it down in a way that ensures it’s not a bitter pill to swallow. Essentially, a company with a matrix structure doesn’t follow a strict top-down hierarchy. There are at least two different chains of command or sets of management people report to.
In this article, we’ll break down the matrix organization with visuals and clear examples, so you can internalize the information without getting a headache.
What is the matrix structure?
A matrix company structure includes at least two chains of command— project managers and traditional functional managers. Check out this matrix structure example:
A functional manager heads a particular office or department based on a job function. Think marketing, sales, support, human resources (HR), and more.
A project manager leads a project and can manage staff from a wide range of departments and offices.
In a traditional top-down company structure, everyone fits neatly into their little box. For example, a sales representative reports to the sales manager, who reports to the head of sales, who reports to the CEO. It’s a simple, linear chain of command.
The same is true for designers, copywriters, developers, and HR reps.
For day-to-day business processes, this organization structure works well enough. But when you add projects to the mix, not so much.
For projects, a cross-functional team is often ideal. With a diverse set of talent, they can complete the entire project without too much outside input.
Enter the humble project manager.
They represent a new “horizontal” chain of command and are the linchpins for making projects happen. For example, let’s imagine you want to rework the landing page experience for your company’s HR product.
Sure, your developers could create the page alone within their department. But they would probably end up creating an experience that caters to techy developers, not stressed-out HR managers.
For the ideal results, a project manager will recruit talent across departments:
- From development, a front-end developer, to create the new experience.
- From HR, an HR rep who uses your software for their perspective.
- From sales, a sales rep or account manager to get the customer perspective.
- From marketing, a designer and a copywriter to design and write the new content.
A project manager will ensure that they communicate, work together, and meet deadlines, just like the “responsible one” in a school project.
Depending on the company, the project manager can have less or more authority than a functional manager.
What are the 3 types of matrix organizations?
There are 3 types of matrix organizations, ranging from weak, to balanced, to strong. The adjective represents how powerful project managers are in the company.
- Weak matrix organization: the project manager acts as a coordinator, but has little authority and reports to functional managers.
- Balanced matrix organization: staff report equally to functional and project managers.
- Strong matrix organization: project managers have, at least temporarily, more authority than low-level managers, can allocate resources freely, and report to a PMO rather than functional managers.
Although the names suggest otherwise, a strong matrix organization isn’t inherently better than a weak one. It depends on your company’s industry, products, and priorities.
The benefits of entering the matrix
If you’re still following the traditional functional structure, get ready to make the switch. Because the verdict is in, and matrix management comes with a lot of benefits.
Let’s take a closer look.
Bigger strides of progress
A matrix organizational structure is the antidote to “business as usual.” It shifts some focus away from business processes onto new and exciting projects and big leaps.
A department will obviously have its own performance goals and little projects, but they rarely have as wide-reaching effects as large-scale project efforts.
More engaged employees
Matrix management leads to employees who are more engaged at work. The more matrixed and organization is, the more engaged the employees are.
It may seem counterintuitive since they have to deal with not just 1 manager, but at least 2, on a daily basis. In industry jargon, we call it a dual reporting relationship, which somehow makes it sound even worse.
But let’s think about what makes someone engage with their work for a second.One of the most important factors for employee engagement is feeling like you make a difference. What better way to feel that than to be an active part of a project from start to finish?
Better cross-departmental collaboration
It may seem counterintuitive since they have to deal with not just 1 manager, but at least 2, on a daily basis. In industry jargon, we call it a dual reporting relationship, which somehow makes it sound even worse. But let’s think about what makes someone engage with their work for a second.
If you care about your bottom line — and who doesn’t — you need to take this seriously.
Better utilization of staff
The matrix organization structure helps you use your staff to their fullest potential. For most projects, you’re better off recruiting internally from your organization than starting a hiring process from scratch.
Not only will you save money, but you’ll also finish the projects faster.
Instead of letting your staff settle into a monotonous routine, you can involve them in exciting work that matters while expanding their skill sets and increasing company value.
The matrix structure alone isn’t enough to defeat silos
Silos, the invisible walls between teams and departments don’t just exist because of your company structure. Another problem is how your company handles internal data.
And the vast majority of companies fall short, with a whopping 80% reporting a moderate or high degree of data silos.
As a result, 69% of companies fail to deliver a comprehensive view of their customers. Getting all those 0s and 1s in the same place can be the difference between providing an excellent, consistent customer experience and a disjointed one.
Thankfully, you don’t need to break the bank or develop a custom solution from scratch to start tackling the issue. The first step is much simpler.
Improve company-wide collaboration and remove silos with a Work OS
Your company probably already uses a mishmash of collaboration or “productivity tools” to try to solve this issue. But as you introduce more tools to the mix, often, silos only get worse.
It may seem like a catch-22, but it isn’t. You need a rock-solid platform that can act as the foundation for your entire digital workspace. Enter the Work OS, a platform with all the views, templates, and functionality to suit everyone in your organization.
At monday.com, we consider it our mission and responsibility to crush silos and help companies get more, and better work done. Want to see what the future looks like?
Share plans and access while letting everyone use their preferred workflow.
With monday.com, you can easily use 100+ customizable templates to start and manage projects and processes throughout your company.
Teams can adapt any board to their workflow with a few clicks. For example, if a group prefers Kanban, they can set up a Kanban view without changing how everyone else has to work.
That makes organization-wide adoption a lot more realistic. They say it’s not possible to satisfy everyone, but we — not so humbly — disagree.
Keep a logical trail of communication.
With comments and discussions directly on projects, work items, and files, no information gets lost in department-specific Slack channels or email threads (why is this still a thing in 2022?). You can still use mentions, emojis, and add attachments, so it’s not like your staff will lose the ability to express themselves.
Integrate with other software.
Without the right integrations, a digital workspace won’t be able to breach the data gap. Most teams use a wide range of SaaS tools to handle relevant data. Luckily, monday.com Work OS offers native integrations for CRMs, marketing platforms, email, messaging apps like Slack and MS Teams, helpdesk software, and more.
Our developers are working around the clock to make all data silos a thing of the past.
Monitor KPIs from multiple data sources in a single dashboard.
Not only can you use the integrations to create work items automatically based on outside events, but you can also combine data from multiple sources into a single dashboard. For example, a sales manager can take advantage of CRM data and combine it with project data from monday.com to create a real-time sales dashboard.
Share data between departments with automations.
Finally, you can use our smart automations to link boards and work items together. When you share data automatically, there’s no chance of a weak link getting in the way.
Choose from a wide range of automation templates, or create custom ones with our smart workflow editor.
Think beyond a standard matrix with monday.com
In a traditional company structure, it’s easy for the big picture to get lost as you move down the hierarchical ladder.
Switching to matrix management ensures essential projects get completed, not just everyday business processes.
But that’s only the first step. With our cross-department project template, you can finesse your matrix organizational structure and start improving company-wide collaboration on projects today, all without having to resort to new hires and convoluted processes.