Resource Requesting Made Easy in Matrix Organizations

May 29, 2020 By

Work culture and organizational structures have evolved exponentially in the past decade. Silos of communication and traditional hierarchical structures have been replaced by collaboration and more complex structures. The reason behind this transformation is the diversification of businesses into different domains and divisions. 

A plethora of skills is required when companies have multiple projects pertaining to diverse fields on their radar. While these skills might be overlapping in different project requirements, a matrixed organization allows you to form cross-functional teams. In fact, a survey from Gallup states that 84% of employees are matrixed. 

Focusing employees on a unified mission, a matrixed organization is more nimble and facilitates employees to move from team to team as project demands. This approach helps managers reduce resourcing costs and eliminates the need to sub-contract additional resources by allocating the ones with the required expertise from different divisions.  In order to maximize success, project managers need to place a request to the line managers for the required member well ahead in time.

Let’s understand the basic concept of resource requesting before delving into the details: 

#1.What is resource requesting?

When a specific skill set is required to complete a project, the project manager in charge reaches out to the resource manager of the firm, who then reaches out to the team leads to find the particular resource with required competencies. This entire process is known as resource requesting. If the traditional approach of relying on office directories is followed to request resources, project managers get stuck in endless trails of emails. They are directed to multiple leads and by the time their request is fulfilled, they lose their track of time. Moreover, if these authorities are no longer present in the organization and there is no definite system to update it, the managers will not know who to respond to. 

Now, how do you break these silos? How do you coordinate with resource managers and other line managers and allocate resources on time? 

With an advanced resource management software solution in place, resource managers gain enterprise-wide visibility of the workforce and activities pinned to their schedule. Using these tools, you can make the cumbersome process of resource requests simpler and faster. Here are the ways to do it in a breeze: 

1. Forecast the demand in advance 

Even though the matrix organizational system has solved problems of the past, it has brought some of its own too. Often project managers get notified of new requirements at the eleventh hour. This becomes an issue when a firm follows a matrixed structure. Resources are likely to be allocated to multiple projects already in flight. Last-minute requests decrease the likelihood of finding the right person, leading to project delays and compromising project quality. The solution is to stay proactive and forecast the demand for resources in advance to the resource managers

When management tools are incorporated with business intelligence, projects can be pipelined and an approximate demand for resources, and their competencies can be extracted using forecasted reports. By leveraging these reports, project managers can request resources from resource managers and settle their resource demand ahead of the curve. Moreover, you can bridge the capacity vs demand gap and avoid any resource crunch down the line. 

2. Confirm the relative priority of the project 

How do managers thrive within highly matrixed organizations? 

Constant coordination between line and project managers can ensure smooth functioning. This is of the utmost importance when you are requesting resources. In a diversified company, when several projects are being worked upon and you need to allocate resources for your project, you need to ensure if it’s a high-priority one. Also, make sure to evaluate the time-sensitivity of your project with other projects inline. If there is a priority shift in between, there is a chance for you to mobilize those resources to your project tasks.

When equipped with a tool that maintains a single source of truth, resource managers can get a fix on the order of priority of projects as they can be marked as “likely”, “unlikely”, “tentative” and many more. Based on this data, they can figure out the right resource required for the job. Since a matrix structure focuses on overall business objectives, deploying resources to the projects that add more value is necessary. Hence, a sophisticated system in place that strengthens their decision making makes matrix management more efficient. 

3. Place the demand for the required skill set

After defining the roles and responsibilities while planning a project, project managers first need to allocate the right resources to the right tasks. While doing so, if a resource with the required skill set is not available in your resource pool, you can direct your request for the particular skill to another resource pool. The most important step is to ensure that the resource requested aligns with the competencies your project demands for its success. 

Resource managers need clarity on the skill set, the timeline for which resources are required, and if there are any specific certifications required. Only when project managers make the competencies known and clear, can they find the right resource for the right job. 

4. Check resources’ availability

Every project has a defined timeline. To streamline project planning and ensure that the project is carried out smoothly, managers should stay pre-informed of resources’ availability down the line. You don’t want last-minute absenteeism that can hinder your projects’ progress. Hence, while requesting resources, state the timeline you require the resource for. 

This was a major challenge when traditional practices of calling around and dispatching multiple emails were followed. However, with organization-wide visibility, resource managers can check every employees’ availability using the resource scheduling tool and reserve the resources. These tools are essential when you have a matrixed organization because, with multiple lines of authority, management can become a more complex process.  

5. Bridge the communication gap

Since matrix organizations aim to establish cross-functional teamwork, collaboration and communication become their key strengths. Only when there is effective communication between project, resource, and other line managers, can there be an efficiency in resource allocation. How can this be established? 

When a channelized resource requesting system is followed, there is restricted access to managers and that keeps them from stepping on each other’s feet. This avoids any unnecessary inter-departmental clashes between the managers. In addition, resources will get clarity on their reporting lines like the project manager will take care of their tasks’ progress and everything else will be taken care of by the line managers. Moreover, complete transparency on resource requirements and project priorities makes the allocation process smooth and easy. There are many benefits to following a systemized protocol and refraining from creating silos in the organization. 

The advantages of matrixed organizations

Workforce planning and demand management for managers become easier in matrixed organizations. When there is the flexibility to allocate inter-departmental resources to project tasks, hiring expenses, and resourcing costs are reduced. In addition, managers can tap into resources’ potential and broaden their skill set.  So, make the most of a matrixed structure, introduce a streamlined resource request process, and enhance your project management efficiency. What’s more?  With a system this dynamic and flexible, you will see an improvement in collaboration and higher employee engagement will follow!

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Anuradha Mansinghka

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