An investigation into the application of the dimensions of matrix management in Sanlam Personal Finance (PTY) LTD

Classen, Gavin J. (2000-12)


Matrix Management has been applied in various large organisations with varying degrees of success in order to carry out their projects. The effectiveness or lack thereof, in applying the principles of matrix structures, is believed to be the area of focus in these organisations. Project management in large organisations can be a complex process if a sound strategy of matrix organisation is absent. Organisations normally use the matrix approach to combine the advantages of traditional functional and product structures to increase the ability of managers and other employees to process information. The matrix structure is generally used to basically permit the flexible sharing of employee resources across service or product lines. However, the disadvantages associated with the matrix structure, which include the maintenance of two hierarchies does provide challenges to employees and managers. By reducing duplication of key functional activities of product lines, matrix design could reduce costs in organisations. The matrix manager's function is therefore designed to achieve an overall balance by coordinating the organisation's functional and product / service activities to ensure delivery on time and within budget. It therefore becomes incumbent on the functional and product / service managers to work closely with each other to make the matrix design work well. Matrix organisation requires that managers demonstrate high levels of trust and communication, teamwork and negotiating skills. Co-ordination is achieved through extensive formal and informal meetings or in one-to-one conversations and problem solving. Teams consists of both functional and product or service managers and other employees. Matrix organisation is intended to permit the flexible sharing of employees across product or service lines. The matrix manager obtains the resources and integrates the efforts of functional and product or services personnel. However, the maintenance of two management structures could be expensive. Employees have to report to two superiors, which can be frustrating and confusing. Matrix management would therefore require people to develop good interpersonal skills and requires management to accept this type of management. Furthermore, it would require the matrix manager to maintain a balance between the functional and the product or services interests. In the light of the above, it is apparent that a matrix organisation will not take place naturally (Brown, 1999: p22). There will be resistance to change, also from top management, to do things in the traditional way through the functional structures. In many organisations team cultures are absent. This could lead to a failure to work together and take orders from people outside their functional division. In order to be successful, matrix organisations are thus required to make a number of mind shifts regarding their structures. This research project aims to test the successful or unsuccessful application of the dimensions of matrix management in Sanlam Personal Finance (SPF). Many projects of varying sizes and differing natures are implemented within this company on an ongoing basis both with and without the use of consultants.

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