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Project Managers
(September 13, 2004)   You'd be tempted to think that all employees work for the manager who hired them. The most sophisticated workflow models we've seen focus on the relationship between so called "hiring managers" and recruiters. The idea seems to be that the hiring decision is made between these two individuals. We wonder if any of our vendors have ever heard about "project management".

Most of the "Global 2000" companies use a variation of matrix management to get their work done. Developed for the extraordinary accomplishments of the original space program, matrix management introduces Project Managers (PMs) into the picture. The person who is traditionally identified as the "hiring manager" is called a Functional Manager (FM) in the parlance of Matrix Management. PMs provide funding, daily direction, task accomplishment and other supervisory roles. FMs juggle workload amongst PMs, handle administrative personnel issues, determine some levels of technical competency and so on. The employee works for both. Hiring decisions are joint responsibilities.

The PMs are often protected from HR and leave those sorts of detailed administrative duties to the FM. Hiring authority is developed because a number of PMs present the FM with workload that exceeds the department's ability to deliver with current staffing. In some ways, it is useful to think of the FM as the manager of a captive staffing company. Orders for more employees are generated by factors that are entirely out of her control.

While "Time to Hire" and "Cost Per Hire" are interesting statistics from the perspective of the FM and HR, they are meaningless to the PM. The PM needs a person on the job now, not after the considerable lag time imposed by the additional layers. Often, this ends up meaning that hiring requisitions are actually authorized by the head of PM. In theory, this speeds the hiring process up.

We point out this minor little aspect of the way things really are to suggest that, at the most fundamental level, our industry does not have a solid grasp on the processes we are proposing to automate. We'd suggest that market research groups ought to have a very clear understanding of whether or not their customers are matrix management shops. A useful question to ask your vendor is "How does your system support decision making in a matrix environment?" 

-John Sumser

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