2018 / On the way to future mobility

Matrix structure equals added customer value

    If you enter new territory, a map and the compass will help you. At PSW, the responsibility of entire vehicles makes up this new territory, while project management and the matrix structure contribute like the map and the compass.

    As is the case with all new tools, hands-on experience and practice are also needed to successfully deal with the matrix and projects. Why have a matrix organization in the first place?

    The background here is the transformation of PSW from a company that only used to accompany and process smaller jobs to one that controls processes on their own and develops several vehicles concurrently. This way PSW and its partners will master the biggest order in the history of the company to date: the Audi e-tron GT.

    The advantages

    Matrix organizations have existed in large companies for a long time now. Many car manufacturers have already introduced them, above all Porsche. In fact, a matrix organization initially places high demands on those involved. But it has decisive advantages: “With the matrix, we can act both in an inter-departmental way as well as across locations and work in a respectful way, eye-to-eye between project management and business units”, says Sandra Danner, Head of Structure, Culture and Principles.


    As of January 1, 2018, the matrix structure was introduced at PSW. In order to accompany the cultural change long-term, Sandra’s team has held numerous workshops and events: “We want each and every one of us to identify with their role in the matrix and internalize the new self-perception”, she says. “Such a cultural change does not happen from one day to the next, it requires long-term rethinking. Therefore, we will continue to provide accompanying measures that support the new identity of PSW and each individual employee.” The matrix counteracts what has often been called a “silo mentality” and has long prevailed in many parts of the auto industry: Departments working sequentially on orders, i. e. in consecutive steps.

    The result: Delays in the project process added up, undesirable developments are difficult to correct and existing know-how in the departments remained there without other parts of the company being able to benefit from it. The matrix with its variety of communication paths should change all this, confirms Sandra:

    It will break up know-how silos - we will then benefit from the released synergies. This will help us to take action in an agile way and make quick decisions


    “The matrix brings speeds up projects”, says Erhard Dörr, Head of Project Management at PSW. “It simplifies complex tasks, provides powerful committees and focuses on the work content through a clear division of tasks. It may be that the committees might take a little getting used to for some but if we want to handle complex projects successfully, even several at a time, then we need clear interfaces and short decision-making processes.

    In this case, it must be clear who participates in which meetings, what is being discussed there, and what happens after that. We also need the committees so we can quickly discuss and evaluate alternative solutions, so that the customer quickly receives an answer”.

    Matrix structure

    General Development

    The entire development process from a single source: we are an innovative development partner for comprehensive module and derivative development work.


    The business units and the project management intersect in the matrix. The project management decides on “what”, “how much” and “when”. It is responsible for the result of a engineering job anddetermines the specifications, scheduling and costs. Derived from this, the business unit determines the “who” and the “how”, i. e. has the resources and expertise also in the matrix organization to configure the content, and decides on responsibilities and implementation. The activity at PSW is thus differentiated. Where in the past engineering activities were required above all else, project managers will also be needed in the future. They possess strengths in terms of costs, scheduling and quality.
    “Experience teaches us that optimal collaboration in the matrix is a highly complex task because time and again conflicting goals have to be resolved. This requires high levels of technical competence on both sides, on the project side as well as on the business unit side”, says Erhard.

    “If both work together in a matrix, the customer has the maximum added value and the greatest possible adherence to schedules, especially with regard to a start of production”.

    Another benefit for the customer is that PSW can manage projects completely within its own responsibility with the new project management and matrix structure. Through a committee structure, PSW ensures that the solutions offered are approved by the customer. “In addition, we are faster because we can work on several topics in parallel.

    What’s more, our Project Management Manual which defines all tools and processes, creates a consistent methodology across the entire enterprise”, says Erhard. Erhard is already thinking ahead:

    In a next step we will digitize as many standards and processes as possible. When we are done, you will no longer have to move more to Silicon Valley to experience speed in project execution. That’s what you’ll experience at PSW

    Erhard Dörr Head of Project Management
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