Project Management In Health Care

In my previous role, I worked as a Project Management Consultant in the Project Management Office (PMO) for a health system in the greater Chicago-land area.  Project Management Consultants are responsible for “driving high-profile, complex projects, helping customers and stakeholders to meet their needs, and acting as a change agent to foster continuous process improvement” (source: job description).  In this organization, there were eight Project Management Consultants who reported to the Director, Project Management Office.  The Director reported to the Vice President, Strategic Planning.


We used a custom, Project Management application called Performance Logic to manage operational and strategic projects and to track performance against our targets.  Performance Logic is similar to Microsoft Project but is web-based and user-friendly so it can be used by the ‘first time’ Project Manager.  We also incorporated many of the tools we discussed in our MGT 598 class – project charter, detailed project plan, status reports, etc. — as part of our Project Management process.


The process begins when an operational leader (i.e., Director of Emergency Department) fills out a new project request form, which can be accessed from the hospital’s intranet site.  The operational leader provides the project information, service level required, business need, statement of work, project boundaries, critical success factors, project assumptions, project constraints and estimated costs.


There were five service levels offered:

  1. Project set up and/or training in Performance Logic
  2. Project planning
  3. Project consultation
  4. Full project management
  5. Problem solving facilitation


The Director of Project Management Office and the Vice President of Strategic Planning reviews all projects requiring full project management or problem solving facilitation weekly.  If the project aligns with the health system’s strategic priorities (e.g, quality/patient satisfaction, strategic initatives, growth, financial stability), a resource is assigned.  A Project Management Consultant can be assigned up to eight projects at any given time based on their professional interests and capacity.


In this health system, a matrix structure was used to organized projects (Larson and Gray, 2014).           The Project Management Consultant works closely with the operational leader of the area to complete the project charter and meet the project goals and objectives.  The project team consisted of front line staff who can participate on multiple projects while performing their duties as a physician, nurse, pharmacist, etc.  At the project kick-off, a stakeholder analysis and communication strategy can be completed to ensure all stakeholders are informed throughout the project.


This is one example of how Project Management can be applied in health care.  How is Project Management applied in your industry?



Larson, E. W., & Gray, C. F. (2014). Project Management: The Managerial Process (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

The Frustrations of Working within a Matrix Organization

The matrix organization is a relatively new concept when it comes to an organizations structure.  A matrix organization is a hybrid between a project management structure and a functional hierarchy (Larson & Gray 74).  The exhibit below shows different types of matrix organizations.

As a defense contractor, my company is most closely aligned with the project matrix (also known as a strong matrix).  Whereas I understand the benefits of the matrix organization (promotes higher efficiency, creates cross-functional relationships, etc.), I find that many of my daily frustrations stem from this type of organization.  I often feel that I have too many bosses, and sometimes they seem to be blissfully unaware that I have responsibilities on other projects and/or for other managers.  Communication is another issue because I either receive the same e-mail from five different people, or I do not get communicated with at all.  There have been many instances where a coworker has received a piece of vital information from one of their project managers, and I hear nothing because my project manager thinks the information should have come from my finance manager.

So now that I have identified all these challenges, here are some suggestions to follow in order for the matrix organization to work successfully:

Define your role and each manager’s role

Talk with the functional manager about what is expected from you and what he/she thinks your role is within a project team.  Additionally, each project manager has different expectations, so speak with him/her at the beginning of the project.  An open dialogue about what is expected from you as a team member and him/her as the manager can be very beneficial.  Work out any ambiguous areas right away.


Communication is key!  Keep multiple managers in the loop about your work load and your deadlines either in a formal status report or informally during staff meetings.  Ask that you be included on the distribution list for vital communications.  If any issues arise, communicate them as soon as possible.  Project managers should also make sure that they have a regular form of communication with each of their team members.

Embrace diversity

Lastly, take advantage of the matrix organization.  It provides employees with the opportunity to make connections with other employees in different functional organizations.  Project managers should encourage an open team atmosphere.  As a team member you can learn about different areas in the company that interest you as well.  Who knows, you may find a new area of interest!


What type of organization does your company utilize?  Do you think it is the proper organization for how your company operates?

What are some of your personal experiences (good or bad) with the matrix structure?



Larson, E. W., & Gray, C. F. (2014). Project Management: The Managerial Process (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.