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Managing Systems Development 101: A Guide to Designing Effective Commercial Products & Systems for Engineers & Their Bosses∕CEOs
James T. Karam
James T. Karam
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ASME Press
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A matrix organizational structure's key feature is shared responsibilities in order to provide management the checks and balances needed to assure simultaneously meeting both the short and mid-term objectives needed for profitable growth. Matrix organizations are very common in aerospace, but much less so in commercial entities. In effect, all staff has two bosses: a program∕product manager and a functional manager. Examples of the latter are managers of electrical engineering, software development, mechanical design, etc.

In practice, most programs and products employ several staff of a given skill set, so that it is only the “lead” for that skill which has two bosses. Most staff members just take direction from their functional lead person.

Companies in the business of delivering complex systems composed of somewhat common products found that dedicated program or dedicated functional organizational structures led to behaviors that were contrary to the company's well being. So, where does the conflict come from? Program managers are expected to deliver systems to their customers at the least cost and time to maximize the company's short-term profitability. Functional managers are to assure the timeliness and quality of their staff's contributions and the continuing professional development of their staff.

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