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Monday, March 20, 2017

Organizational Influence on Project Management

If you are someone who has played the role of a Project Manager in more than one company you would know that the organization has a direct influence on how projects are managed. I have worked as a Project/Program manager in a few companies and I can vouch for this fact. 

In the PMP Exam series there were 3 articles that covered this topic and I have explained in great detail about how Organizational structure & culture impact projects. 

They are: 

Trivia: Some people use terms like Cultural Norms when they talk about an Organizations Culture. 


Organization structure is the hierarchical relationships of various entities within the organization that collaborate with each other for project execution. Different organizations, by virtue of their objectives and core philosophies, carry different organizational structures. The structure of an organization determines the operational model used in the organization. Organizational structure determines the responsibilities for different functions and entities. 

You could refer back to the article titled Understanding the Organizational Structure to know more details because I don't want to repeat the same details once again. 


The structure of a functionally structured organization is based on the functions performed by each component of the organization. Such organizations would have different departments that are responsible for different functions and the Project Manager would work with all those departments to get the project done. From the view point of a Project Manager, this type of organization is the hardest to execute projects. 


The structure of a projectized organization is based simply on the projects the organization executes. It follows that project managers have complete responsibility over all projects assigned to them. They are provided complete authority to define priorities, use resources, and direct and monitor work making this the best organizational structure for us to execute projects. 


The matrix structure effectively combines the best attributes of the functional and the projectized structures. 

In a matrix-structured organization, team members report to both their functional managers and project managers. Effective management of this dual relationship is critical to overall success of the project. Thus, matrix structures require clear cut role definition. Also, team building in a matrix-structure organization is often difficult because of the dual reporting structure.

Depending on how close the Matrix Structure is, to either the Functional style or Projectized style, it can be categorized into 3 groups: strong matrix, weak matrix, and balanced matrix 

Strong Matrix

In organizations with strong matrix structures, project managers have greater authority or right to command than functional managers. Such organizations closely resemble those with projectized structures and have full-time project managers and full-time administrative staff for projects.

Weak Matrix

In organizations with weak matrix structures, project managers do not have as much power as functional managers. In a weak matrix, the role of a project manager might be more that of a project expediter or project coordinator, and, as a matter of fact, no official designation as “project manager” exists. The project expediter acts primarily as a staff assistant and communications coordinator and is not authorized to make or enforce decisions, whereas the project coordinator has moderate decision-making powers and reports to a higher-level manager.

Balanced Matrix

In organizations with balanced matrix structures, the powers of the project manager and the functional manager are about equal and in balance. Here, although the need for project managers is recognized, the project manager is not provided full authority over the project and project funding.


No matter what sort of Organizational structure your company is following, certain things need to be taken care of, if you want the proposed methodology of handling projects to be successful. Some of them are:
  1. High Transparency
  2. Strong Management Support 
  3. Continuous Monitoring
  4. Clear and On-time Communications 
If an organization can take care of the above 4 aspects, chances of their projects succeeding go up considerably. 

Organization process assets (OPAs) are assets of an organization involved in project implementation that can be used to influence project success. Organizational Process Assets is just a fancy term for documents & templates that your company uses as per the project management & governance structure put forth by the PMO. Read this article about OPAs as I will be skipping the details and move on to key specifics quickly. 

Updating OPAs is generally the responsibility of the project team members as only they would have the complete details of the work they do especially those related to technical artifacts.

OPAs are grouped into two categories:
  1. Processes and procedures
  2. Project knowledge base — knowledge repository where filled-in templates and other data are available
Examples of process assets include formal and informal plans, procedures, processes, guidelines, “lessons learnt,” and historical information. Generally, OPAs appear on an organization's intranet site, so that team members can refer the procedure or process easily. Such an intranet may also carry filled-in templates and documents from other projects for reference. 


Enterprise environmental factors are factors that surround or influence project success – basically the environment in which the project is being executed. Of course, they may have a positive or a negative influence on project outcome. These factors are used as inputs to the planning and initiating process because a project cannot be planned without analyzing available infrastructure, tools, and software. 

An organization's structure and infrastructure are good examples of the enterprise environmental factors that would govern any project management initiatives the organization may undertake. For more info on Enterprise Environmental Factors read this article from the PMP Exam series.

That wraps up the basics of Project Management related topics. The next section would deal with basics of Agile Project Management

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