We recently received a comment that one of our articles was incorrect because the matrix only referred to projects incorporating people from different functions.
Whilst a lot of the project management literature focuses on this kind of matrix structure, it is by no means the only one.
A matrix organization is defined as one where some individuals have more than one boss or reporting line. These lines could be to a project manager and function, or they could be to geography and product line or function and business unit – there are many possibilities.
In project management literature, they distinguish between strong, weak and balanced matrix organizations with the difference between them being about the power of the project manager (strong matrix has a stronger reporting line to the project manager).
In fact, the project matrix is one of the simpler forms of matrix. Because projects are normally not permanent, matrix management in a project matrix organization normally focuses the project line on activity and specific deliverables and the functional line on capability building and personal development. in a sense the project matrix is just a series of virtual project teams with resources returning to their functions at the end of the project.
The more enduring ‘balanced matrix’ – where individuals have multiple bosses who each have an impact on activity scheduling and ongoing line management and development – is a more challenging form of matrix management, as more responsibilities are shared and resource allocation and alignment becomes more difficult.