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First of all, look for the processes and the definitions of roles for each axis of the matrix.  While doing interviews, look for where the processes are making the organization more productive as opposed to more bureaucratic.  When looking at roles, watch out for the classic “responsibility without authority” challenge that is so often talked about in project management circles.  

If you’re starting from scratch, you can still find processes in the hierarchical structure that can be adopted and those might well be worth a lot to you.  If you can find an existing process or procedure within a department that could be adopted by the entire enterprise, then acknowledging the source of the process gets you two things instantly: First, you have one process in one department that doesn’t need to be deployed.  It has already been adopted.  Second, you can end up with a big ally in your efforts to create the second axis of the matrix where the department head involved can see evidence that you’re not intending to throw out everything that has already been done by the departments.

If you’re creating processes that go across departments and you will have to, then think about involving the very people who might feel disenfranchised.  For example, I was assisting an organization recently who had to create a cross-department resource capacity planning process.  Needless to say, the department heads weren’t overjoyed at this idea as they felt that they would lose some measure of control over the management of their own staff.  I recommended creating a portfolio steering committee (including among its members those department heads) that would establish project priorities.  The department heads wouldn’t feel the authority was being taken from them; instead they’d be included in the new structure of authority for making cross-department decisions.  Working this way deflected an otherwise challenging aspect of an EPM Deployment by including the very people who would otherwise oppose it.

Finally, think about going “light” on your deployment and establishing the centralized procedures without excessive intervention by working in layers.  For example, we’re working on a project where the matrix is very organizationally strong.  The PMO is in its infancy, and pushing hard against the organizational structure isn’t ideal.  We’ve recommended not working down to the individual level for resource management to start.  The organization instead will deploy resource management as a centralized process with a very small number of users attached either directly or as emissaries from the departments to the PMO.  Resources will all be defined as generic and the goal will not be to drive to the individual task level for each employee to start.  Instead, the PMO will start doing resource capacity planning by identifying aggregate resource challenges in upcoming periods and then turning the problem over to the department heads to manage.  We expect that in time, there will be demand from the department heads themselves to push the EPM deployment wider to ease the work they have managing resource conflicts themselves.

Conclusion

Regardless of whether you’re deploying enterprise project management as a consultant for others or if you’re deploying your own EPM within your own organization, you’re almost certain to have to confront the challenges of the Matrix Organization.  Keeping your matrix balanced is one of the key challenges of EPM and EPM systems like the Microsoft EPM Solution to making them successful.

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