Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Projectized Against The Matrix Organisational Structure

By:Ali Al-Dimshawy

It is clear that we are in front of two serious problems here:

1- Poorly motivated staff.

2- Early leave of staff seeking more permanent positions.

Let us see what these two problems do with our two organizational structures

1- While work is organized along “project” lines:

- It is will known that this kind of structures ‘Leads to poor coordination’ . . .[and] ‘Eliminates in-depth competence and technical specialization’ (Duncan, 1979:431)

- This structure in its nature does not allow coordination or a bond between project team and the organization, this does not only give the resources the feeling of solitude and being ignorable by the organization, but also it does not help solving work problems as they appear. After while and as a result of lack of necessary coordination the project team will face a considerable number of pending problems this is a tough obstacle in the way of team motivation.

- This structure does not encourage the loyalty of the employees as they know that they are going to leave the company once the project is over, and who doesn’t seek a stable safe job?

- And another point is that most of professional resources look at this kind of jobs -from a hit and run point of view- as a platform for gaining experiences for their hopefully coming permanent position; those positions are not always within their current organizations.

The moral here is such a structure impact badly both loyalty and motivation of project team members.

2- The matrix structure and how it deals with these two problems:

- No doubt when an employee reports to his organization he knows that he is visible thus he tries his best for improving and proofing his performance as he knows this is the one and the only indicator of the period he can stay safe with his current position or further chasing his career in a stable environment.

- Duncan (1979:429) early argued the one of the matrix strengths is the Flexible sharing of human resources across products. This flexible sharing fastens recovery of problems either they are related to work or to resources motivation.

- Team motivation is still a case sensitive which needs special care by the management especially in matrix structure as the reorganizing it self can be a motivator by giving the team larger responsibilities and authorities.

It is important here to say that it is still better to keep using the same resources as possible while superimposing the structure but ‘significant learning must occur before an organization embarks on the transformation . . .’ (Tinnirello, 2001:194)

From all of the above I answer the question ‘Is this problem likely to be resolved by simply re-organizing the structure?’ saying yes re-organizing the structure may solve the problem when considering the other effecting factors. Organizations shall be carefully optimistic when applying a matrix structure, ‘It is only when all four-decision rights, information, motivation and structure – are integrated and aligned that an organization effectively executes’ (Galioto, 2006:15) reorganizing is not magic.

References and Bibliography:

· Duncan, Robert. (1979) What Is the Right Organization Structure? Decision Tree Analysis Provides the Answer. USA: Organizational Dynamics.

· Galioto, Frank. (2006).The Matrix Reloaded. The Multi-Axis Organization as Key to Competitive Advantage. USA: Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.

· Tinnirello, Paul C. (Editor) (2004) New Directions in Project Management. USA: Auerbach Publications



I certify that I am the author of this blog and that any assistance I received in its preparation is fully acknowledged and fully disclosed in this assignment/paper/examination. I have also cited any sources (footnotes or endnotes) from which I used data, ideas, theories, or words, whether quoted directly or paraphrased. I further acknowledge that this written work has been prepared by myself specifically for this course.

Ali 13-01-2009

The ideal project manager - First Things First

The ideal project manager

By: Ali Mohammad Ali

As a senior architect I am going to assign the characteristics of the ideal project manager,The ideal project manager as I recognize is a person who has the ability of managing a project through its different phases starting from design, planning, construction or production and then final analysis dealing smoothly and professionally with man-power, materials and products either they are software or hardware this leads us to the point of which skills or characteristics he should have in the few coming lines I am going to try ranking those properties of an ideal manager.

I would classify the skills of a manager in two major groups first one includes technical skills and the other one includes managerial skills.

  1. Technical skills

This kind of skills in my opinion is very vital for managing any process and to better explain my point of view let us take a construction project for example, if a company is handling a project and assigning a project manager who is suffering lack of technical experience, how can he evaluate his team performance? How hard to him would it be to evaluate and analyze the project situation? Of course he will go to apply the theories of management to the reports delivered to him by his team and this would break the communication chain among the team leading to the trap of throwing the ball over-the-fence (see “History of management” p.02by Prof Vasileios Paklitzoglou)

The moral here is that fair technical background is a must for the following:

  • It helps the manager to understand, analyze, and to predict suitable reactions the problems he may face during the time span of his project.
  • It enhances communication among his team members.
  • It gives the manger the ability of solving unexpected managerial problems rather to effectively interact with those suggestions provide by team members and develop them to applicable ones if they were not.

2- Managerial skills:

Besides the technical background an ideal manager must have a group of managerial characteristics here I am counting some of them:

  • Awareness of project management through study and work experience.
  • A high standard of communication skills.
  • The ability of managing a team.
  • He must know how to get each of his team(s) members involved in the real team work environment this can be done along working days and by arranging meeting discussing work status and needs.
  • The ability of hearing other opinions and analyzing them and picking what is useful to the job this enhances self confidence of team members.
  • The ability of keeping the sky clear in front of all team members regarding the work scopes and responsibilities of each this requires professionalism of data filtering to know who shall know what and when.
  • Flexible yet strict personality when dealing with unexpected changes during the time span of the project.
  • Enhancing the competition along with coordination among the teams.

Now it’s time to say that while I was writing my essay I was recalling the image of Mr. Mohammad Abdullah the best manager I’ve heard about.

Choosing an organisational structure And TQM implementing procedure

Strategic Context of Project Management

A Case study by:Ali Al-Dimshawy

05 April 2009

Table of contents

Summary. 3

Answer of Question 01: 4

Choosing an organisational structure: 4

(1-A) The project cost influence: 4

(1-B) The project schedule influence: 4

(1-C) The project duration influence: 5

(1-D) The technology requirements influence: 5

(1-E) The geographical locations influence: 5

(1-F) The required working relationships with the client influence: 6

Conclusion: 6

Answer of Question 02: 7

(2-A) TQM implementing procedure at GPCC: 7

(2-B) TQM implementing barriers at GPCC: 7

(2-B-1) GPCC Organisational Culture: 7

(2-B-2) GPCC Organisational Structure: 8

(2-B-3) Disregarding the internal customers: 8

References: 9

Bibliography: 10


Question 01:

An organisation structure is the Bible of individuals’ roles and relationships, when designing a structure of an organisation the focus shall be placed on its compatibility with the intended work, the kills of resources and the integrity amongst team work,

Some parameters have different ranges of influence on the organisational structure (i.e. project cost, the project schedule, the project duration, the technology requirements, the geographical locations and the required working relationships with the client), the thesis is discussing how deep and different each of those parameters effects the design of organisational structure.

Question 02:

In May 2004 Neil Johnston the English PM with Gulf Precast Concrete Company the cladding subcontractor at The Dubai Mall project - a part of Burj Dubai the $20 Billion project- proposed a TQM plan and submitted it to GPCC’s CEO.

The procedure of TQM implementation did not flow smoothly; it confronted some internal barriers like organisation culture, organisational structure and others.

This thesis is going to dig the story trying to highlight the followed procedure comparing to Vasilieos 12 step proposal and barriers confronted TQM implementation within such a large scale construction project.

Answer of Question 01:

Choosing an organisational structure:

Organization Chart is ‘The framework of task and authority relationships in a company’ (McGraw, 2009: 08)

Mainly there are two formats to choose among for an organisational structure; the functional structure which ‘is one on which the tasks, people, and technologies necessary to do the work of the business are divided into separate “Functional” groups’ (McGraw-Hill, 2009:07), the hierarchical which is also called the product or project structure and considered as the typical format of small projects as it is similar to the functional one except functional division is replaced by product lines divisions. However both structures have something in common that is all departments leaders are connected directly to a project manager who plays the bridge between the project and the organisation. One hybrid of these two formats is always possible and called the matrix structure which allows managers to work in two organizational dimensions, producing high standards of management and control.

(1-A) The project cost influence:

According to Galbraith, 1973 ‘The other factor favouring a functional form is the degree to which the expensive equipment in manufacturing …’ (Galbraith, 1971:39)

As the functional structure provides a stand alone financial department which has a better opportunity to manage particular budgeting and cost control in each functional zone, so as long as it is all about cost influence the functional structure will be the best for an organisation. Once other factors like the projects sizes, complexity and/or geographical location are involved, considering a matrix structure is a must.

(1-B) The project schedule influence:

When scheduling is the cornerstone of a project, picking the product structure would be the first option as it keeps the focus tracking a product through its design, manufacturing and marketing phases. Whilst functional structure focuses more on discipline rather than program oriented as it zooms in individual performance of resources within a department more than looking at the production procedure as a whole.

(1-C) The project duration influence:

When talking about time saving and control, the preferable structure would be the projectized as it supplies rapid reactions and time making through the relatively shorter decision making track which ends in the PM hands instead of explicit need of coordination amongst functional managers which leads to ad hoc time predicting.

One of the functional charts disadvantages is the weakness of project authority because of it doesn’t provide sufficient horizontal communication.

(1-D) The technology requirements influence:

When the need of new or complicated technologies rises in a project and when these new technologies are too complicated to be controlled by the PM, a specialist shall be invited to join the team and may be to lead a team of technicians with sufficient authorities of decision making. Such a team cannot be contained in a projectized structure where the full authority and power is in PM’s hands then efficient use of specialists is not provided. Here the Functional Chart announces readiness for giving help.

This was argued by Galbraith, 1971 ‘The use of new technologies requires expertise in technical specialities…to make effective use of expertise the Functional form of organisation is superior’ (Galbraith, 1971:39)

(1-E) The geographical locations influence:

Almost two cases for the geographical locations exist, the first is the project is fully located in one location where other factors but geographical may impact the choice of a structure as explained above.

The other case is when project/s is distributed over more than one country or region where over all control is still needed, in this case the superior structure is the Matrix which combines the traditional functional structure with horizontal lines reflecting the interface between heads of departments and managers of areas.

However a specific Matrix called Geographical Matrix Chart was designed and developed by international companies to cover their needs of management their overseas jobs.

(1-F) The required working relationships with the client influence:

The relationship needed with the client varies between being a single point contact relationship to having the focus totally on him; this depends on the nature of the product and the clearness of client inquiries and specifications and many other factors. Projectized structures will best serve in the case of the single point customer contact and a PM in that case will be this point of contact that helps keeping the client feeling better towards work procedure as it keeps him updated along project duration.

Vasileios, 2009 counted among the disadvantages of functional structure: ‘The client is not the focus of activity and concern’ as this structure looks at activities through their functions only.

However I have been working as a project coordinator for an organization which used a matrix structure including a coordination department to contact the client with the organization. This structure from my point of view worked very well in this regard and filled in the gap between the different parties.


It is still remaining to say that a fixed tip of advice regarding picking an organisational structure does not exist as each project has its unique circumstances so that the best term which may describe choosing a structure for an organization is to design it as per project needs, especially if speaking about medium and large scale projects where none of the two pure simple structures (functional and projectized) can help and a matrix structure shall be adopted.

Anyway a structure may be modified or even superimposed if needed to, so that a highly flexible vision shall attend during the project execution duration.

Answer of Question 02:

(2-A) TQM implementing procedure at GPCC:

‘TQM is a tool for continuous improvement that both improves quality and reduces cost’ (Hamilton & Preston, 1993:04)

Between January 2003 and June 2005 I was working as a sr. architect with GPCC at The Dubai Mall construction project where the company suffered lack of having a uniform quality system then. On May 2004 Neil Johnston the PM suggested to start implementing TQM system. Once the idea was announced, argument amongst project team about its implementation, benefits and obstacles rose up. Neil submitted his plan to the CEO and other internal departments’ managers. His report included assignments of tasks proposal, expected barriers analysis and the over all benefits, However after lot of meetings, calls and correspondence the CEO approved the idea and the following roles were agreed:

CEO was to ‘outline the Vision Statement, Mission Statement, & Guiding Principles [and to] create [and head] a steering committee’. (Vasilieos, 1996:10)

HR department was to arrange educational courses for the upper management in order to get them as aware as possible of the process procedure. It took the HR six months to accomplish the job with 40% efficiency as some of the employees were not interested to join an educational course.

PM was to manage the in field progress and to hire a Total Quality engineer who would ‘focus on the Owner/Customer (External) & Surveys’ (Vasilieos, 1996:10)

TQM committee was to ‘Implement Process Improvements’ (Vasilieos, 1996:10)

The project team was to ‘Use the Tools of TQM [and finally to] Know the Benefits of TQM’

Looking at Vasilieos lecture slides we would see that three out of the twelve ‘Steps in implementing TQM’ (Vasilieos, 1996:10) were not included in the above mentioned roles assignment; ‘Consider the Employees as an Internal Owners/customers [and] Provide a Quality Training Program [and] Establish Quality Improvement Teams’ (Vasilieos, 1996:10)

Why those steps were not taken? Why were not all the taken steps performed with 100% efficiency? The answer of these two questions may cover the barriers of TQM implementation process.

According to (Hau, 2000: 85-86, 88) the barriers include the following ‘Inability to Change Organizational Culture [and] Incompatible Organizational Structure and Isolated Individuals and Departments [and] Paying Inadequate Attention to Internal … Customers [and] Inadequate Use of Empowerment and Teamwork’.

(2-B) TQM implementing barriers at GPCC:

(2-B-1) GPCC Organisational Culture:

In our project I would say that GPCC had all over UAE reputation of being the company of managers; it was over managed as the stronger one fought, the bigger his opportunity to manage a department was. In such an organisational culture managers did not find the necessity of learning new techniques. They were managers because they were politically strong, in other words they were neither motivated nor strictly enforced to share the new TQM implementation process.

(2-B-2) GPCC Organisational Structure:

Because it was almost a Passive-Aggressive organisation with fully plugged channels between managers and other employees, communications means were to stay poor and non sufficient to carry the message to and from most of the project team members.

Individuals further to departments were isolated and out of the game.

(2-B-3) Disregarding the internal customers:

Ignoring providing motivators to those isolated individuals, the GPCC upper management insisted on disregarding one of the pillars of TQM which assumes that every one’s a customer either internal or external and the main job is to guarantee your customers satisfaction.

Simple motivation here could be done by sharing the concept and importance of TQM but poor communication which was a result of organisation culture caused poor education within the project fence.

(Padhi, 2002: 01) illustrated figure 01 and explained that ‘To be successful implementing TQM, an organization must concentrate on the eight key elements…’

Figure (01)

In our real life GPCC case study we found defects in integrity, teamwork, recognition and above all of those lack of communication which Padhi considered the body and the soul of TQM.

The moral here is that GPCC could not reach 100% TQM further to client’s complete satisfaction yet the talented Neil Johnston could hardly get the approval on the work constructed in site and at the end GPCC hardly survived the project.

Although the medicine of this entire headache was just here, If GPCC only paid attention to these figured eight elements it could overcome the barriers to proper TQM implementation.

The process needed more involvement of all concerned individuals by assigning clear role to each resource, clarifying the benefits of TQM to the resources, motivating them by using considerable incentives and supplying them with proper communication means and work environment.

This does not mean that the TQM had failed to meet its benefits but it means that GPCC failed to implement it properly.


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