Organization Structure on the PMP Exam

Posted on May 10, 2010 by

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One of the most common questions I receive from those studying for their PMP® Exam is how to distinguish between the different types of organizational structures. There are three main types of organizations—Functional, Matrix, and Projectized. An organization that has more than one of these types (perhaps across different departments, locations, or teams) is called a Composite organization. Matrix organizations are classified as one of three types: Weak Matrix, Balanced Matrix, and Strong Matrix. Of the types of Matrix organizations, a Weak Matrix organization is most like a Functional organization and a Strong Matrix is most like a Projectized organization. It’s helpful to memorize the organizations on a continuum from left to right: Functional – Weak Matrix – Balanced Matrix – Strong Matrix – Projectized. The further the organization is on the right of the continuum, the more the organization is structured to handle project work and more authority is held by the project manager. In studying for the PMP Exam, the table on page 28 in the fourth edition PMBOK® is quite useful in understanding the differences between organizations. Notice from this table that:

  • The Project Manager’s authority and their resource availability range from little or none in a Functional organization and increase on the continuum to High to Almost Total in a Projectized organization.
  • In a Balanced Matrix, both the Project Manager and Functional Manager have some control over the budget. Organizational structures to the left of the Balanced Matrix on the continuum have the Functional Manager control the budget, and those on right have the Project Manager control the budget.
  • In a Weak Matrix and the organization to the left, the Project Manager’s role is part-time. Whereas organizations to the right of the Weak Matrix have Project Managers who work in the capacity of a Project Manager full-time.
  • In a Balanced Matrix and the organizations to the left, the Project Management Administrative Staff works part-time. Whereas organizations to the right of the Balanced Matrix have full-time Project Management Administrative Staff.