The EE400D Robot Company

Three Project Management Structures

  • Functional Organization
  • Project Teams
  • Matrix

Functional Organization

  • Engineers working on the project work within the company’s existing functional organization.
  • Coordination is maintained through existing company management structure.
  • EE400D, a classroom of future electrical engineers, is not a real company and has no existing company management structure. Our functional organization will therefore reflect the common functional elements of our projects. This was a key consideration in the selection of our candidate set of projects.

Project Teams

  • The company (instructor) assigns engineers to a project team which remains intact over the life of the project (the semester)
  • This structure is simple, cohesive, and most important the one which you are most familiar.
  • Unfortunately this structure has many disadvantages.
    • No training. You are assumed to be technically proficient in your area of responsibility on day 1.
    • No sharing of technology expertise or resources.
    • Difficult post-project transition. A real problem in a company with thousands of engineers.
  • For these reasons, the Matrix organization is the typical structure you will find in large organizations like NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Matrix Organization

  • Our class is organized as a matrix type organization as defined in the following two articles. Note that the x and y axis of our matrix is reversed from the generic matrix organization cited in these articles.

In my experience, projects just seem to work best with a balanced matrix type of organization. This is because the resources of the company are permanent (or relatively permanent) and projects are not. A project is a temporary undertaking with a known ending. Project teams are formed for the life of a project. This means that we are able to bring the right resources together for a project and use them for the amount of time they are needed. Organizing the Organization for Project Management

  • The Matrix is a Hybrid organization where projects are overlaid on the company functional structure. For our class our functional organization is based on the common components of our robots.
  • Notice that our functional organization forms the vertical axis of the matrix.
  • In a matrix organization you report to both a project and a line manager.

Robot Company Matrix Organization

Line Management

  • From the perspective of the company matrix, the Functional Organization is the vertical axis and describes the division’s sections, and groups that make up the company.
  • Using NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an example each node (circle) is a group of engineers who report to a group supervisor. These group supervisors in turn report to a section manager, who are at the end of each horizontal line in the matrix. Also seen in the matrix, each section manager reports to a division manager who in turn reports to the president. This is the Line Management of the company.