Dear PM Advisor. Jan 20, 2014

Dear PM Advisor, I'm looking at the different organizational structures in the PMBOK and I'm having a hard time distinguishing between weak, strong and balanced matrix. They all look alike to me.

Stuck in the Matrix. Hartford, CT.

Dear stuck in the matrix,

They do look similar so let me highlight the differences for you. First you need to recognize the PMI's bias on this. That's important since they wrote the PMBOK and write the test questions pertaining to this topic. They believe that in the best possible world, every organization has a PMO, a Project Management Office staffed with fully trained Project Managers. Thus, in Matrix organizations, the best or strongest version has the PMs coming out of the PMO. Like this:

The other extreme, as far as the PMI is concerned, is when a person is in a functional department not called a PMO, like R&D or Marketing, and she doesn't even have the title of Project Manager. That they consider a Weak Matrix:

In between the two extremes is a balanced matrix structure where the person managing the project doesn't report to the PMO but at least has the title of Project Manager:

The PMI uses different terminology than I, referring to the level of authority and influence wielded by the Project Manager. But if you're trying to pass the PMP exam, my explanation might work better.

Good luck,

PM Advisor

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