Functional vs Projectized vs Matrix Organizations for PMP Exam

Functional vs Projectized vs Matrix Organizations for PMP Exam

In the PMP Exam, one of the most fundamental questions a PMP Aspirant will be asked is to distinguish between the type of organization with reference to project management and organizational structure. Organizations can be broadly divided into three general types: Functional, Projectized and Matrix (midway between Functional and Projectized). Knowledge about the type of organization is vital to project success as the project management approach will be dependent on the type of organization in which the Project Manager is working in.

Functional, Projectized and Matrix Organizations

  • Functional Organization: Functional organizations are organized around the functions the organization need to be performed.
    • Functions include: Human Resources, Information Technology, Sales, Marketing, Administration, etc.
    • This is the traditional structure of organizations
    •  The “Project Management” role will be performed by a team member of a functional area under the management of a functional manager
      • Resources are controlled and authorized by functional managers
      • The “Project Management” role would act more like a “Project Co-ordinator” or “Project Expediter” who do not usually carry the title of “Project Manager”
      • Project Management is considered a part-time responsibility
      • Authority of the “Project Manager” is very limited
  • Projectized Organization: Projectized Organizations are organized around projects for maximal project management effectiveness.
    • The Project Manager is given more authority and resources control
    • The Project Manager is responsible to the Sponsor and/or Senior Management
    • The Project Manager is usually a full-time role
    • Team members are usually co-located within the same office / virtually co-located to maximize communication effectiveness
    • There can be some functional units within organization, however, those units are having a supportive function only without authority over the project manager
  • Matrix Organization: Matrix Organizations are organizations with structures that carries a blend of the characteristics of functional and projectized organizations.
    • Matrix organizations can be classified as weak, balanced or strong based on the relative authority of the Functional Manager and Project Manager
    • If the “Project Manager” is given a role of more like “Project Co-ordinator” or “Project Expediter”, then the organization is considered “Weak Matrix”
    • If the “Project Manager” is given much more authority on resources and budget spending, the organization is considered “Strong Matrix”
    • The differentiations between Funcational Organization vs Weak Matrix and also Projectized Organization vs Strong Matrix are not very clear cut

Illustrated Example

In order to easily differentiate between the different types of organizations, the following table is drawn to provide an overview comparison between Functional, Projectized and Matrix (Weak, Balanced, Strong) Organizations:

Functional Weak Matrix Balanced Matrix Strong Matrix Projectized
Project Manager Role
Part-time/Full-time Part-Time Part-Time Full-Time Full-Time Full-Time
Supportive Staff Nil Nil or Part-Time Part-Time Full-Time Full-Time
Authority Nil Low Low to Moderate Moderate to High High to Total
Project Resource Control
Resource Availability Very Low Low Low to Moderate Moderate to High High to Total
Project Budget I/C Functional Manager Functional Manager Mixed
(Function Manager with
Project Manager)
Project Manager Project Manager

In the PMP Exam, Aspirants are advised to look for the descriptions on the AUTHORITY of the Project Manager in order to help understanding the type of organization structure the project is being performed in.

recommended PMP resourcesAdditional FREE PMP resources: 47+ Commonly Confused Term Pairs with detailed explanations. If you found this article useful, you may wish to reference other Commonly Confused Term articles.

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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6 Responses

  1. Ashutosh Deshmukh says:

    On Page 47 of 6th Edition of PMBOK Guide – there is a small hint that may be useful to differentiate between weak matrix and functional organization

    In Functional – the PM Role may or may not be a designated job role like coordinator
    In weak matrix – the PM Role is not a designated job role like coordinator

    This also contradicts with usual assumption that roles such as coordinator/expediter are always associated with weak matrix – even Rita’s famous PMP Book also says that these 2 roles are found in weak matrix.

    However PMBOK has different view on this it seems

    Do let me know what you think Edward – and thank you so much for in-depth content on PMP on your site for people like me who are preparing for PMP

    • Edward Chung says:

      Yes, the actual definition is different according to different authors as it is not set in stones. I would however adhere to the PMBOK Guide as the PMP Exam is partly based on the Guide.

      Wish you PMP success!

  2. Shy says:

    If in exam it does not mention which organization the scenario is in, which organization should we assume it is?

    • Edward Chung says:

      That’s a good question Shy! For questions without describing the type of organization, we will generally assume there is a full-time project manager (i.e. somewhat between Matrix and Projectized Organization, the exact type is not that important) and the authority of the project manager is not that limited.

      Wish you PMP success!

  3. Adam says:

    Thanks for the article. Could you please BOLD “Projectized Organization:” like you did the other two? I almost missed it. I wish you also included pros and cons of each arrangement. Thanks a lot Chung. Let me leave you a gift => Numbers 6:24-26. Just take a look. Again, thank you buddy.