What is a Matrix Diagram in PMP

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30th Jun, 2022
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04th Apr, 2022
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What is a Matrix Diagram in PMP

If you’re thinking about Neo (played by the fantastic Keanu Reeves) and Morpheus (essayed by the intimidating Laurence Fishburne) after looking at the title of this blog, I won’t blame you. The 1999 science-fiction blockbuster dazzled both fans and critics alike. However, in this blog, I will be taking you through something called the Matrix Diagram and explaining what it is within the context of project management.  

As you may already know, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the most recognized project management credential around the world. It is delivered and managed by the Project Management Institute (PMI) which is a not-for-profit organization and one of the foremost authorities on project management in the world. If you’re PMP-certified and a member of the PMI, it shows that you’re serious about a career in project management. It validates your project management experience, showing that it meets the rigorous and global standards set by the PMI. There are several project management courses you can enroll for if you want to get certified. 

Now, on to what is matrix diagram PMP.     

What is a Matrix Diagram?

matrix diagram PMP is a diagram that shows the relationship between different groups of information (or variables). However, it doesn’t stop there. It also shows the strength of these relationships, and the role that the variables play. According to the American Society for Quality, a matrix diagram is a tool to analyze and display the relationship between two, three, or four groups of information. Please note that it is also known as a quality matrix diagram or a matrix chart.

A matrix diagram is a visual tool used to present the interrelationship between two or more variables. Each variable is indicated by a row while each column represents another variable. The cell indicates the strength of association between the variables. It is an efficient way to summarize data, do analyses and illustrate relationships among different categories or factors (variables). The relationship between variables emerges as patterns, which are organic. Please note that relationships within a matrix diagram cannot be forced.

Get to know more about importance of project charter.

Matrix Diagrams in the context of the PMP Exam

Now that you’ve learnt what a matrix diagram PMP is, it’s important to understand what they are in the context of project management. While leading project teams, there are always numerous decisions to be made. You may need to make decisions regarding someone's role in the project, or the number of resources a particular task requires. For this, it’s important to stop thinking of the matrix only as a diagram. It can be a document or a chart as well. Whenever you have data concerning two or more variables, decisions need to be made.  

You can analyze various types of information using a matrix diagram. These include: 

  • Actions 
  • Concepts 
  • Equipment 
  • Functions 
  • Materials 
  • People 

In a matrix diagram, when a pair of elements intersect, you usually mark it using a number. Some people mark it using symbols - in this case, the different symbols typically have a value attached to them, to help you understand the strength of the relationship.

Why use Matrix Diagrams?

There’s no doubt that the matrix diagram PMP can be very useful in a project. For instance, it can offer you objective, balanced and accurate data - a crucial part of the decision-making process. It helps to measure the performance of a team or individual through time and enables comparisons. Matrix diagrams have many uses when you're setting up a new project, so you should use them often if you want to be more effective as a project manager. 

Matrix Diagrams are very important, even in the context of the PMP exam. Speaking of the PMP exam, please note that preparing for the PMP exam is a whole journey. There are several project management professional courses that you can enroll for and start preparing. To demonstrate your knowledge of matrix diagrams, you should be able to: 

  • Present information correctly and concisely.  
  • Perform calculations correctly and with sufficient precision.  
  • Write a report well.  
  • Prepare a matrix diagram.  
  • Ask and answer questions about the information presented in a matrix diagram. 

Matrix diagrams are also great ways to describe complex relationships between variables. Let’s look at the snapshot below which is a classic example of when you’d use a matrix diagram. 

Let’s say that there’s a matrix diagram that shows a strong association between Task A, Task B and Task D. However, there isn’t much of an association between Task A and C or D. This information can be important for you and your team, as it helps to shape your project. 

There are a few things to remember when using matrix diagrams. For instance, if a matrix diagram shows that there is no relationship between two variables, this doesn’t mean they cannot be used together. It means they should be handled separately. 

Also, avoid mixing data if it pertains to different variables (for instance, if you have been asked to produce a matrix diagram showing the relationship between budget and schedule in a project). 

A matrix diagram is a great way to illustrate how two or more variables interact with each other. It provides a visual representation of how different factors affect your project and enables you to analyze them easily and with utmost precision.

When to use Matrix Diagrams

The following instances are examples where a matrix diagram PMP can really help you:   

  • Understanding the root cause of a problem 
  • Understanding the optimum number of resources for a project (or sub-project) 
  • Understanding the viability of a project based on skills and resources required 
  • Identifying opportunities for improvement 
  • Choosing between two or more solutions 
  • Understanding whether project requirements have been met 

Ultimately, you can use a matrix diagram whenever you need to understand the relationship between two sets of data (or more). 

Types of matrix charts

There are five basic types of matrix charts. They are covered in detail below:  

1. L-shaped matrix diagram 

The L-shaped chart is the simplest and most common matrix diagram. It compares two sets of data in a two-dimensional table. 

One data set is represented on the left-hand side, and you compare it against the second data set in the top row. Numbers or symbols notate the relationship between pairs in the intersecting cells. 

You need to total the scores to find out how these items rank amongst each other. 

L-shaped matrix diagram

Image Source: https://www.lucidchart.com/blog/what-is-a-matrix-chart Blog 

2. Y-shaped matrix diagram

The Y-shaped diagram relates three groups of items that are all related to each other in a circular flow (i.e., A ← → B← →C← →A). These relationships are depicted in a circular diagram.

 Y-shaped matrix diagram

Image source: Matrix Diagrams: What They Are and How to Use Them | Lucidchart Blog   

3. C-shaped matrix diagram

A C-shaped diagram, like a Y-shaped matrix, compares three sets of data. However, you can compare these three data groups with each other at the simultaneously. It is represented as a three-dimensional cube diagram.

C-shaped matrix diagram

Image source: Matrix Diagrams: What They Are and How to Use Them | Lucidchart Blog   

4. T-shaped matrix diagram

A T-shaped diagram refers to two L-shaped matrices joined by a single list. This matrix lets you compare one set of data to two other groups. It is helpful when you have two distinct sets of questions about a core group.

T-shaped matrix diagram

Image source: Matrix Diagrams: What They Are and How to Use Them | Lucidchart Blog    

5. X-shaped matrix diagram

The X-shaped matrix is useful for comparing two pairs of complementary lists. It is similar to the T-shaped diagram but it extends the T-shaped chart to include an additional set of data. 

The result is a diagram with an X- and Y-axis forming a cross or “X” shape that compares four total groups of data. In this relationship matrix, each axis is related to the groups immediately adjacent to it, but not the group across from it.  

X-shaped matrix diagram

Image source: Matrix Diagrams: What They Are and How to Use Them | Lucidchart Blog   

Just like how selecting the right matrix diagram is crucial to help you make the correct inferences, and in turn, make accurate decisions, the right training can make a world of difference in your PMP preparationKnowledgeHut’s Project Management Professional Course, for example, is a Premier Authorized Training Partner of PMI. This course will help you pass the exam on your first try, since you’ll get to learn from PMI-certified instructors. The course content will also be tailored specifically for the PMP exam

Steps to create a matrix diagram

The following steps will help you create a proper matrix diagram which will help you glean quality insights effectively: 

  • Define your purpose: The first thing that you must do is define your purpose of creating a matrix diagram. You need to clearly specify what it will be used for. What are you hoping to achieve? What insights are you looking to get out of this exercise? Do you want to simply explore a possible relationship between two variables, or base an important decision off the diagram? If it is the latter, ensure that the goal is properly defined, for it will affect how the remaining steps are carried out. 

Ideally, this should be written in the form of a communications plan and shared with the rest of your team. 

  • Select your team members: Next, you need to assemble a team of people to help you create a high-quality matrix diagram. There are two points that you should remember. First, all these people should be experienced in creating matrix diagrams. They should know how it works, understand the inter-dependence of all the variables at play, and know how to look for relationships between them. Second, they should be patient. Depending upon the project at hand and the purpose of your matrix diagram is, designing one can take a lot of time! 
  • Collect the data you need: After you’ve set up your team, you need to collect the data you’ll be analyzing. In this step, it’s crucial to avoid any form of bias. If the wrong data is collected, or if not all of them have been gathered, it can wholly alter the results of your analysis. 
  • Select the most suitable matrix type: Based on the goal you’ve set for this exercise and the data you’ve gathered; you must select the matrix you’re going to build.  
  • Document relationships in the matrix: This is the most important step in the whole process. After a thorough discussion with your team, finalize what symbols you will use to depict the strength of the numerous relationships between the data sets. Once you reach a consensus, start documenting each relationship properly. Everybody must agree about the validity and strength of all relationships. 
  • Draw conclusions: Once your analysis is complete, you can review the matrix to evaluate and draw conclusions based on the results. 

Red Pill or Blue Pill

Matrix diagrams are a very powerful tool in a project manager's arsenal. Keep in mind that you can use them for different purposes, such as monitoring the progress of your project and communicating information to your teams. Also, employ the use of matrix diagrams when making decisions during your project - they will help you to make better, more informed decisions. Like choosing between the red pill and the blue pill in the film, you too can choose from among, L, Y, C, T, and X shaped matrices and be in control. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is matrix diagram PMP?

A matrix diagram is a visual tool to show the relationship between different variables in a project. Relationships between the project variables emerge as organic patterns and cannot be forced.

2. How do you use a matrix diagram?

Matrix diagrams are primarily used to help in the process of decision-making by project managers. They illustrate the relationships between data sets and bring out patterns that help stakeholders and project managers make the right decisions.

3. How do you create a matrix chart?

There are six steps to creating a matrix chart. Start with defining the purpose for which you need the matrix chart, the next steps are selecting your team, and collecting the data you need to analyze. Basis the data you’ve collected, you can select the most relevant matrix type and then come to the most crucial part of the process – draw relationships between the data in the matrix. Once the team agrees on the relationships drawn, you can come to the conclusions that will lead to the right decisions. 

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