The Disadvantages And Advantages Of Project Functions Information Technology Essay

Lack of project focus is often an issue because people feel obligated to their functional responsibilities before their project responsibilities. The difference in priorities of one unit can affect other units as well. That is, if engineering feels obligated to their functional responsibilities before their project duties, and other units are waiting on engineering before they can begin, then the project will be delayed.

(b) Functional units are not well integrated. Coordination/communication between the units is slow and inefficient. Dedicated functional staff are only committed to their portion and not the project as a whole.

(c) Due to the reasons stated above, the project will take longer to complete.

(d) Low motivation of staff. Project can be seen as a burden, a distraction from their normal duties. So their dedication to project goals is not as high as the other two approaches. Lack of ownership or identification with the project is other causes for low motivation.



(a) Resources utilization and people-skills in the organization is quite flexible: both the functional and project manager play a role in who/what goes where. The degree to who has more control depends on which “grade” of matrix this is: functional, balanced or project.

(b) Project can draw upon the entire bank of technology and skills of the functional divisions. Team members also have a “home” to go to when project is finished.

(c) Focus of project is stronger than a purely functional approach since there is a dedicated project manager.

(d) Resources can be shared amongst the functional units and other projects. People can be tackle multiple projects at the same time. This reduces cost – compared to the dedicated project team approach – as duplicate jobs are eliminated.


(a) There can be a lot of tension between the functional managers and the project manager because they have to work so closely together. There may be power struggles or differences in opinion. It’s a tricky situation.

(b) Sharing resources within the organization can be a cause of conflict or competition if the resources are hard to come by.

(c) Project members have TWO bosses. This can be stressful if one tells you to do one thing and the other tells you to do something different. Who do you obey?

(d) Due to the presence of “multiple functional groups”, the project manager can become overwhelmed by the agreements between the groups.



(a) Does not disrupt operations of parent nor does it take away the parent org’s resources (other than special project-only members)

(b) Strong, dedicated focus to the project. I.E., the project comes before anything else. The project manager has much more freedom to control his/her team than in the other two approaches.

(c) Speed: projects are completed much more quickly due to the dedicated effort.

(d) High motivation and adhesion of staff members. They are all on the same boat and they stick together, offering each other lots of support. There is a great deal of responsibility shown.

(e) High level of cross-functional integration. People with different types of skills commit themselves to help optimize the project even though it may not be their area of expertise.


(a) A dedicated project team is more expensive to implement. This is due to the variety of new positions that have to be filled as well as new resources required. There can be duplication of effort within the organization. That is, there can be mechanical engineers for the functional departments and dedicated mech. engineers for the project.

(b) Projectitis: the we-they situation that may arise if project members start to feel disconnected (or discontent) with the parent organization This situation can produce the “let-down” situation when the project is completed and the team members have to return to their functional duties.

(c) Sometimes, the full range of technical competence needed for the project cannot be obtained (brought in from the outside, such as from functional departments) due to the “closed” or “contained” nature (culture) of the project. There is again the “we-they” syndrome. Team members want the credit to themselves.

(d) Where do the team members go after the project? In a functional or, perhaps, a matrix approach, they may have a home to return to. This, as stated, can be an anti-climax to a, perhaps, very rewarding experience.

What distinguishes a functional matrix from a project matrix?

The functional matrix approach is much like the dedicated functional approach (see above) except that there is a project manager coordinating the project activities. The functional managers (functional managers) manage their own portion of the project. The project manager is basically a “consultant” or assistant that has indirect authority over the project. In other words, functional managers are the bosses and the project managers are the “second bananas.”

In the project matrix, the situation is basically reversed. This approach tries to emulate the “feel” of the dedicated project approach. The project manager calls most of the shots including which functional personnel will be assigned to the project. The project manager has the final say on the major project decisions. The functional manager’s role is limited; in some situations, the functional manager’s department can even act as a “sub-contractor” to the project. Ex.: The project team may only complete the design/development of a high-tech product. Then, “sub-contract” the functional production and marketing departments to produce and market the product.

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Under what conditions would it be advisable to use a project matrix instead of a dedicated project team?

If time-to-market and high-quality priorities come before development costs, then a dedicated team is the way to go. The dedicated team sill will devote their entire focus and effort and dedication onto creating a good, sound product on a very efficient time schedule (all else being equal, of course). The dedicated project team approach should also be considered if the organization’s resources are already stretched to the limit – i.e., committed to other projects/duties. If this is the case, establishing (or outsourcing) a dedicated project team is the way to go. Finally, a dedicated team may desirable if the matrix culture does not work within an organization. That is, with the matrix approach as stated above, the balance of power between the project manager and functional manager can lead to conflicts. In neither the functional nor the dedicated approach does this situation exist. So, if you’ve got an organization were there are tensions between the two sides, then the dedicated approach is more sound.

Why is it important to assess the culture of an organization before deciding what project management structure should be used to complete a project?

In basic terms, you have to see how the people of an organization get along in order to find ways for them to work together on a team. The culture of each organization is different just as one person is different from another. Organizational culture reflects the sum of people that work within it. For example, if the organization has a culture that encourages innovation and collaboration among the various staff members, then it is already “project oriented” and, therefore, a functional-only or functional matrix approach may prove to be the best approach towards new projects. If the organization does not encourage these qualities, it is best to break off from the parent and form a dedicated project team.

A good analogy can be given by comparing the culture of an organization as the “river” and the project as the “boat” that travels on it. In the case of my company, internal projects are equivalent to paddling upstream. That is, we do not have a strong project-oriented culture. Part of this has to do with corporate politics. As a manufacturing facility, the emphasis is on functional responsibilities – they come first. That is, the quantity of product “out the door” is priority one. Projects are approved only on the basis that they will improve functional performance. This atmosphere is not conducive to promoting any significant internal projects. Another part of the reason why the company does not have an ideal project environment has to do with the culture that has evolved within the company over the past few years. Downsizing and restructuring within the ConAgra group has induced some morale problems from top management down to the individual plants. Needless to say, most of our internal projects have not gone well because the culture just does not support it. Therefore, for most projects, team members are outsourced (sub-contracted). They work with the plant’s internal project manager to complete various projects.


Tutorial Question and Answers


1. What are the relative advantage and disadvantages of the functional, matrix, and dedicated team approach to managing projects?

These team approaches have all different set of advantages and disadvantages to them. The major difference between the three is that functional team approach is “employed” totally from within the parent organization. Functional approaches have absolutely no cost to them and provide more than adequate flexibility in the use of staff. However, its disadvantages include poor integration and a distinct lack of ownership that does not leave employees discouraged to project related activities.

Dedicated team can be very effective since they can be very fast in completing a project and cohesive since it creates a high level of motivation among employees. However this arrangement can be very expensive since extra personnel has to be hired in the infrastructure and post-project transition can be very difficult since this can create the dilemma of where to place the personnel once the project has been completed.

2. What distinguishes a weak matrix from a strong matrix?

When a project manager is assigned to oversee a group that is organized in this manner, it can be a complicated task. The project manager has to facilitate all aspects of the project. They actively plan and assess the project’s progress, but don’t really have any sway when it comes to the employees. Therefore they must rely on the tools available to the actual managers to really control the workers. Functional managers must aspire to the responsibility for overseeing work performance in his/her functional area. So that the workers engaged in the current project’s tasks don’t decrease the productivity of the functional unit as a whole. A result this significantly occurs between functional managers, project managers, and individual workers. When this happens, the unfortunate loser is typically the project manager. In this kind of matrix organization, the project manager is usually a weak figure that holds little sway over his crew.

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3. Under what conditions would it be advisable to use a strong matrix instead of a dedicated project team?

It would be advisable to use a project matrix instead of a dedicated project team when

the parent organization cannot afford to have key personnel completely devoted to project work

the parent organization has both project work and non-project work, and as a general guideline, less than 75% of that work involves projects

project work is not urgent

project work is not very complex (does not involve coordination of many individuals or functional organizations within the company)

4. Why is it important to access the cutler of an organization before deciding management structure should be used to complete a project?

The culture of an organization will affect how easy or difficult it is for you and your project team to accomplish your work. If you assess the culture of the organization before deciding what project management structure to use, we will be able to choose a structure that that allows you to work most effectively within your parent organization, and you should also balance the needs of your project with the needs of the parent organization. Examining the cultural dimensions of your organization, will be able to first evaluate how conducive the culture of the parent organization is to project management. Then we will be able to develop plans, strategies and responses that will make your project management approach effective. For example, if we know that the culture of the organization is not supportive of project management (has a low team emphasis, people identify with their jobs rather than with the organization, and risk tolerance is low, for example), we may choose to create a dedicated project team, in order to create a subculture that is more conducive to project success.

5. What do you believe is more important for successfully completing a project-the formal project management structure or the cutler of the parent organization?

In organizations where the culture is conducive to project success, the culture is more important than the organizational structure in place. The analogy in chapter three of the Gray and Larson text is that of a boat floating in a river, where the boat is the project, and the river is the organization’s culture. When the culture is conducive to project management, the boat floats downstream with little interference, whether or not the organization uses a purely functional structure, dedicated project teams, virtual organizations, or some form of a matrix structure: a functional matrix, a balanced matrix, or a project matrix.

In organizations where the culture is not conducive to project success, I believe that the organizational structure plays a more important role to project success. In organizations where the “culture stresses internal competition and differentiation, whether or not the project manager has authority over the project team would be a critical factor to project success. The organization culture is the determining factor of how important the organizational structure is.


Tutorial Question and Answers


Question 01

What are the six elements of a typical scope statement?

a) Project objective

b) Deliverables

c) Milestones

d)Technical requirements

e) Limits and exclusions

f) Reviews with customer

what questions does a project objective answer? What would be an example of good project objective?

The objective of a project is usually defined in terms of scope, schedule, and cost. For example, the objective of a project might be to introduce to the market–in 10 months and within a budget of $500,000.00 a new food preparation appliance that meets certain predefined performance specifications.

Note that an objective is different than the project goal (which, for example, is to create a certain product). Objectives, however, must support the project goal. Objectives also must be measure, for example, the product must cost less than $10.

What does it mean if the priorities of a project include: Time – constrain, scope-accept, and

Cost-enhance ?

Time is constrain because the original parameter is fixed, the project must meet the completion date, specifications and scope of the project. Scope is accept for which is permissible for The schedule slip to reduce scope and performance. Cost is enhance is usually advantage of opportunities’ to either reduce costs or shorten the schedule. Conversely, with regard to performance, enhancing means adding value of the project.




Time Performance cost




What kinds of information are included in a work package?

This is one of the toughest things for traditional project managers to get their heads around. There is no WBS on an Agile project, at least not one in the traditional sense. From the Scope Definition section, we learned that our backlog represents the scope of the project and that each of the backlog items should be independent of each other. Independence is key because it allows us to do just in time scheduling.

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Agile projects are broken down into smaller projects called releases. Project releases are broken down into smaller time-boxes called iterations. Content is pulled into a release just prior to its start, and only as the previous release is winding down. Likewise, content is only pulled into the upcoming iteration as the previous iteration is coming to a close. The idea here is that we are going to review what the team was able to complete and make decisions about the next increment based on what we learned from delivering the previous increment.

As an Agile Project Manager, I am generally comfortable laying out a high level plan to understand where I expect to be at certain points in the project. I am also comfortable keeping a chart of external and internal dependencies to help manage commitments. The key is to use these as guidance for decision making and indicators of progress. Problems arise when these tools restrict our ability to learn and adapt to the realities of our projects.

When would it be appropriate to create a responsibility matrix rather than a full-blown WBS?

Having a communication plan in place is an essential component for good project management. This document ensures that all stakeholders are equally informed of how, when, and why communication will happen. Communication is often a very effective way to solve problems, deal with risks, and ensure that tasks are completed on time.

Successful communication plans will identify stakeholders, the information to be communicated, and how this information will be communicated. They will leave nothing to chance. For a good overview of the elements of a communication plan


Tutorial Question and Answers


Why are accurate estimates critical to effective project management?

Predicting the outcomes of any project is difficult because there are numerous methods for estimating what a project would cost. Projects that are similar and have historical data are easier for the project manager to estimate, compared to projects that are unique in nature and have never been attempted before. While there is no such thing as a reliable estimate, there are realistic ones. An accurate estimate reduces the risk of project overruns, thus sharply curtailing negative effects on business. Support good decisions, Schedule work, Determine project length/cost, determine if project worth doing, Determine how well project is progressing.

How does the culture of an organization influence the quality of estimates?

In some organization padding estimates is tolerated and even privately encouraged. Other organization places a premium on accuracy and strongly discouraged estimating gamesmanship. Organizations vary in the importance they attach to estimates. Organization culture shapes every dimension of project management; estimating is not immune to this influence.

What are the different between bottom-up and top-down estimating approaches? Under what conditions would you prefer one over other?

Top -down estimating looks at a project or system from the concept stage and uses information from similar projects or items to give an overall cost. This type of estimating will only give approximate estimate with large variances in cost.

Bottom-down estimating is more perfect estimating because in bottom down estimating each task break down into smaller task then be estimated. Bottom down estimating given perfect overall estimate.

What are the major type of costs? Which costs are controllable by the project manger?:

1. Direct costs

a. Labour

b. Materials

c. Equipment

d. Other

2. Project overhead costs

3. General and administrative (G&A) overhead costs

Direct costs: –

These costs are clearly chargeable to a specific work package. Direct costs can be influenced by the project manager, project team, and individuals implementing the work package. These costs represent real cash outflows and must be paid as the project progresses; therefore, direct costs are usually separated from overhead costs. Lower-level project rollups frequently include only direct costs.

Direct Overhead Costs: –

Direct overhead rates more closely pinpoint which resources of the organization are being used in the project. Direct overhead costs can be tied to project deliverables or work packages. Examples include the salary of the project manager and temporary rental space for the project team. Although overhead is not an immediate out-of-pocket expense, it is real and must be covered in the long run if the firm is to remain viable.

General and Administrative (G&A) Overhead Costs: –

These represent organization costs that are not directly linked to a specific project. These costs are carried for the duration of the project. Examples include organization costs across all products and projects such as advertising, accounting, and senior management above the project level. Allocation of G&A costs varies from organization to organization. However, G&A costs are usually allocated as a percentage of total direct cost, or a percentage of the total of a specific direct cost such as labour, materials, or equipment.

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