“How can I chart our matrix organization?” is a question I hear frequently.

Let’s look at how a matrix chart differs from a traditional org chart and see a solution that has worked very nicely for our clients.

Conventional Organizational Charts

We have all seen the basic organization pictured here.  This standard org structure represents a formal hierarchy or a payroll hierarchy.  It answers who reports to whom, with some basic data such as name and title.  If you want to know who signs a person’s pay check or reviews an employee, this is a helpful view.

conventional org chart

Conventional Top-Down Organizational Chart

Dotted Line Org Chart

Conventional Top-Down Organization Chart with Highlighted Project

Taking this view a step further, we can show dotted line relationships, indicating where a person reports to another manager (i.e., a project manager) for the sake of a project or temporary assignment. This example shows orange colored boxes where a person is assigned to a specific project.  So this view can give both a view of the formal structure of the organization and the perspective of who is also working for a dotted-line or auxiliary manager such as a project manager.  It helps you see people involved in Project X, but it still clutters the view with everyone else.

The Matrix Organization Chart

The value of a matrix organization chart it allows you to have a focused view of the people and functions pertaining to that project.

If we filter all of the people on Project X, they can be plotted according to functional area and also management level. In the matrix org chart we are not as concerned about who reports to whom, but rather what results resources are assigned to produce.  What you see below is a 2-dimensional matrix org chart that emphasizes function rather than hierarchy.  Management can use this view to make sure they have the right people, the right number of resources, and right placement on the organization.

Here is a common, somewhat old-fashioned approach showing the basic idea of a matrix org chart.

Poor Example of a Matrix Org Chart

A Common but Insufficient Solution for Matrix Org Charts

Indeed the above chart isolates people by function and deliverables. However it is extremely limited as a management tool because it lacks so much information and context. Also, it does not scale well for larger project teams. As a simple responsibility matrix it may be helpful but is clearly not a robust matrix style  organizational chart.

Using OrgChart to make an Matrix Style Chart

Looking into the matrix org chart each person is represented as a box – which is typical of org charts, but this one has far more detail to give a concentrated view of an organization or a project’s talent strength.  Below is an example taken from the above chart, with additional qualitative information.  Each box in the chart box may contain up to 20 fields of data, shown directly or by color coding or x,y placement.

This particular example was created by OrgChart for Visio with a simple, standardized data set, easily extracted from software such as MS Project or an Excel project roster.

Creating a Matrix Organization Chart with OrgChart 9

The Matrix Org Chart Showing the Placement of Key Talent and Vulnerabilities

Expanded Detail for the Matrix Org Chart Detail

Expanded Detail for the Matrix Org Chart Detail

As you can see there is an option for a lot of quality information of each team member.

A color legend makes for a chart that is visually informative even at a glance.  Better yet, all of this can be generated in minutes, and it can be automatically refreshed as the organization evolves and people change.

The Legend for the Matrix Org Chart

The Legend for the Matrix Org Chart

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