Matrix Management: Benefits and Pitfalls

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Matrix management brings together managers and employees from different departments to collaborate with each other towards the accomplishment of the organizational goals. As much as it is beneficial, matrix management also has limitations. Hence, companies should understand its benefits and pitfalls before implementing this management technique.

Benefits

The following are some of the advantages of matrix management:

Effective Communication of Information

Because of the hybrid nature of the matrix structure, it enables different departments to closely work together and communicate frequently in order to solve project issues. This leads to a proficient information exchange among leaders and subordinates. Consequently, it results to developed strategies, enhanced performance and quick productivity.

Efficient Use of Resources

Resources can be used efficiently in the organisation since it can be shared among functions and projects. As the communication line is more open, the valuable knowledge and highly skilled resources are easily distributed within the organisation.

Increased Motivation

The matrix structure promotes democracy. And with the employees working on a team, they are motivated to perform their duties better. The opinions and expertise of the employees are brought to the table and considered by the managers before they make decisions. This leads to employee satisfaction, empowerment and improved performance.

Flexibility

Since the employees communicate with each other more frequently, decision making becomes speedy and response is adaptive. They can easily adjust with diverse situations that the company encounters.

Skills Development

Matrix employees are pooled out for work assignments, even to projects that are not necessarily in line with their skill background. With this approach to management, employees have the chance to widen their skills and expertise.

Discipline Retention

One significant advantage of matrix management is that it enables the employees to maintain their skills in functional areas while working with multidisciplinary projects. Once the project is completed and the team wraps up, the members remain sharp in their discipline technically and return to their home functions.

Pitfalls

Here are some disadvantages of matrix management:

Power Struggle

In the matrix structure, there is always tension between the functional and project manager. Although their intent is polite, their conflicting demands and competition for control over the same resources make it more difficult.

Internal Complexity

Having more than one manager, the employees might become confused to who their immediate leader is. The dual authority can lead to internal complexity and possible communication problems. Worst, employee dissatisfaction and high employee turnover.

Heightened Conflict

In any given situation where people and resources are shared across projects, there would always be competition and conflict. When these issues are prolonged, conflicts will heightened and will lead to more internal problems.

Increased Stress

For the employees, being part of a matrix structure can be stressful. Their commitment is divided among the projects and their relationship with multiple managers requires various adjustments. Increased stress can negatively affect their performance in the long run.

Excessive Overhead Expenses

Overhead administrative costs, such as salaries, increase in a matrix structure. More expenses, more burden to the organisation. This is a challenge to matrix management that leaders should consider carefully.

These are just some of the advantages and disadvantages of matrix management. The list could go on, depending on the unique circumstances that organisations have. The key is that when you decide to implement matrix management, you should recognise how to take full advantage of its benefits and understand how to lessen, if not eradicate, the pitfalls of this approach to management.

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Recognizing Your Carbon Footprint

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Countless times we have heard of the term “carbon footprint”. Perhaps we have seen and heard it on TV or read it in newspapers, magazines and published articles. Indeed, it has been an expression familiar to everyone as it is always associated with climate change, carbon emissions, global warming, pollution and other environmental issues. Carbon footprint is real. It exists and, in fact, continues to affect the world we live in.

Defining Carbon Footprint

Two essential words comprise the term carbon footprint. Fundamentally, “carbon” means the carbon dioxide circulating in the atmosphere. It is also the general word used for other greenhouse gasses emitted into the air. On the other note, “footprint” refers to impact or effect.

Think about the footprints people leave on the beach sand upon walking on the shore. That is exactly what carbon footprint is like. It’s about the impact humans leave on the earth in the form of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Calculating Your Personal Carbon Footprint

The food we eat, products we use, vehicles we ride on and electricity we consume emit carbon dioxide. In fact, our activities, lifestyle, homes, and countries contribute to climate change. And carbon footprint is the best estimate we can get of the full impact our doings affect the earth. It quantifies the amount of our carbon emission. With this, knowing how to calculate your personal carbon footprint is important.

There are various standards in calculating one’s carbon footprint. There is the so-called “lifestyle assessment” and the input-output analysis. Lifestyle assessment works by adding up all the feasible emission pathways while the input-output analysis involves determining the total emissions of a particular country, dividing it by the carbon-emitting sectors and estimating the overall emissions of each sector. The input-output analysis makes sure that no emission pathway is missed out.

Calculating your carbon footprint manually is an effective way for you to understand your emissions better. You just need a lot of patience to learn how each footprint is generated. Moreover, there are also several resources online that can help you calculate your carbon footprint. Online carbon calculators are abundant across the web. To make your life simpler, you can opt to try those online calculators and easily determine your carbon emissions. However, such calculators vary in scope. So make sure that the online carbon calculator, you choose, is one that includes emissions both direct and indirect.

Avoiding Toe Prints

A toe print is a portion of a footprint. Sometimes, people are misled in their calculations because they only get a carbon toe print instead of a footprint. The idea is that, you should cover a smart scope of your carbon emissions. Not only measuring a portion, but the whole.

Say for example, running a conventional car. The carbon emitted from the car is not only the fuel combustion from the diesel or petrol.  Likewise, the carbon released as the gas was processed and transported to your nearby gasoline station is also an addition to your carbon footprint. If you do not understand this, you will end up calculating your direct emissions while neglecting the indirect ones.

Be wise in calculating your carbon footprint. And when in doubt, whether you are an individual or a business entity, you should seek help from experts who can do it right.

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Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

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Climate change creates a loud buzz across the globe. People are talking about how extreme the weather is, how polluted the environment has become or how devastating the results of carbon emissions are. While it is true that humans contribute a large impact to the worsening climate situations, people are also the most influential key towards making this world a better place. As much as the increase in carbon emissions results from what you do, the healthy change can also start in you.

Although it is a bit difficult to determine what you can do to help the society, do not be disheartened. The devastating forces may be massive for you to work through, but there are countless simple actions you can take to reduce your carbon footprints day by day.

Home

While you are in the comfort of your home, you can start saving energy to reduce your carbon emission. You could replace your standard light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones. A compact fluorescent bulb saves more than 2/3rds or up to 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide in its lifetime. This bulb contains mercury, so make sure to choose a brand that has lower mercury than others.

Another thing, you can do to reduce your carbon footprint at home, is to mind your electronics. When you do not use your gadgets and appliances, make sure you unplug them. If you buy new ones, take time to look at the energy rating of the electronics to save you more energy in future use.

Alternative renewable energy is also a good thing to shift into. Try solar, hydro or wind power at home. Setting up your own residential solar panels and building your own turbines are excellent ways to choose green energy.

Food

The food industry is one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions. You may not have control over the food processing, but you can lower your carbon footprint by buying local products in the market. These local products are not transported from far off places, so the carbon dioxide released from them is lower compared to imported ones. Take a look at the packaging as well; less packaging means less waste.

If you have a big backyard, you could use your it to grow food.  Eating food, either fruit or vegetable, which you grow at home is energy efficient. No more fuel combustion from transportation and other consequent food processing.

Travel

When you have your own car, accelerating it slowly and smoothly, as well as maintaining speed while driving will help lower your carbon emissions. If you drive a lot, it would be better to get a green car. As of now, you can consider using public transportation and go for road travel rather than air travel when you take long distance trips. But when you need to take planes, better choose a non-stop flight instead of connecting ones.

Indeed, there are many ways you can combat global warming and climate change. The road to improved life quality through energy efficiency might be hard, but a transformed lifestyle can make a big difference. Start now – lighten your carbon footprint and help save the world.

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Understanding Carbon Emissions

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Carbon emission is one of the hottest issues in the world of energy and environment today. While it is supposedly an essential component of the ecosystem, it has already become a large contributing factor to climate change. Carbon emission might be good but abuse of this natural process has made it harmful to people across the globe.

This series of articles aims to help people understand the intricacies of carbon emission and what society can do to efficiently manage this natural occurrence.

Natural Carbon Cycle

Two important elements in the carbon cycle are carbon, which is present in every living thing all over the world; and oxygen, which is found in the air that people breathe. When these two bond together, they create a colourless and odourless greenhouse gas known as carbon dioxide, which is then crucial to trapping infrared radiation heat in the atmosphere and also for weathering rocks.

Carbon is not only found in the atmosphere of the earth. It is also an element found in oceans, plants, coal deposits, oil and natural gas from deep down the earth’s core. Through the carbon cycle, carbon moves naturally from one portion of the earth to another. Looking at this scenario, one can see that the natural carbon cycle is a healthy way to release carbon dioxide into the air in order to be absorbed again by trees and plants.

Altered Carbon Cycle

The natural circulation of carbon among the atmosphere is vital to humankind. However, studies show that humans misuse this natural cycle and abuse it instead. Whenever people burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, they produce carbon dioxide – which is an excess addition to the natural flow of carbon in the environment. The problem is that the release of carbon dioxide is much more than what plants and trees can re-absorb. People are not only adding CO2 to the atmosphere, they are also influencing the ability of natural sinks, such as forests, to remove it from the atmosphere. Humans alter the carbon cycle by contributing doubled or tripled greenhouse gas to the atmosphere, faster than nature can ever eliminate. Worst, nature’s balance is destroyed.

The Result

Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gas and other gases. Although these gasses contribute to climate change, carbon dioxide is the largest greenhouse gas that humans emit. The reason why people talk about carbon emissions most, is because we produce more carbon dioxide than any other greenhouse gas.

The increasing amount of carbon emissions cause global warming to become more evident. All the extra carbon dioxide causes the earth’s overall temperature to rise as well. As the temperature increases, climate also changes unpredictably. Flood, droughts, heat waves and hurricanes are now widely experienced even in places where these phenomenon never used to happen.

To be able to reduce the risk of more severe weather conditions means burning less fossil fuels and shifting more to renewable sources. This is never easy. But, definitely, it’s worth a try.

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Sources of Carbon Emissions

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Exchange of carbon dioxide among the atmosphere, land surface and oceans is performed by humans, animals, plants and even microorganisms. With this, they are the ones responsible for both producing and absorbing carbon in the environment. Nature’s cycle of CO2 emission and removal was once balanced, however, the Industrial Revolution began and the carbon cycle started to go wrong. The fact is that human activities substantially contributed to the addition of CO2 in the atmosphere.

According to statistics gathered by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, carbon dioxide comprises 82% of UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. This makes carbon dioxide the main greenhouse gas contributing to the pollution and subsequent climate change in UK.

Types of Carbon Emissions

There are two types of carbon emissions – direct and indirect. It is easier to measure the direct emissions of carbon dioxide, which includes the electricity and gas people use in their homes, the petrol burned in cars, distance of flights taken and other carbon emissions people are personally responsible for. Various tools are already available to measure direct emissions each day.

Indirect emissions, on the other hand, include the processes involved in manufacturing food and products and transporting them to users’ doors. It is a bit difficult to accurately measure the amount of indirect emission.

Sources of Carbon Emissions

The sources of carbon emissions refer to the sectors of end-users that directly emit them. They include the energy, transport, business, residential, agriculture, waste management, industrial processes and public sectors. Let’s learn how these sources contribute carbon emissions to the environment.

Energy Supply

The power stations that burn coal, oil or gas to generate electricity hold the largest portion of the total carbon emissions. The carbon dioxide is emitted from boilers at the bottom of the chimney. The electricity, produced from the fossil fuel combustion, emits carbon as it is supplied to homes, commercial establishments and other energy users.

Transport

The second largest carbon-emitting source is the transport sector. This results from the fuels burned in diesel and petrol to propel cars, railways, shipping vehicles, aircraft support vehicles and aviation, transporting people and products from one place to another. The longer the distance travelled, the more fuel is used and the more carbon is emitted.

Business

This comprises carbon emissions from combustion in the industrial and commercial sectors, off-road machinery, air conditioning and refrigeration.

Residential

Heating houses and using electricity in the house, produce carbon dioxide. The same holds true to cooking and using garden machinery at home.

Agriculture

The agricultural sector also produces carbon dioxide from soils, livestock, immovable combustion sources and other machinery associated with agricultural activities.

Waste Management

Disposing of wastes to landfill sites, burning them and treating waste water also emit carbon dioxide and contributes to global warming.

Industrial Processes

The factories that manufacture and process products and food also release CO2 , especially those factories that manufacture steel and iron.

Public

Public sector buildings that generate power from fuel combustion also add to the list of carbon emission sources, from heating to other public energy needs.

Everybody needs energy and people burn fossil fuels to create it. Knowing how our energy use affects the environment, as a whole, enables us to take a step ahead towards achieving better climate.

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Key Steps to Complying with ESOS

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Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme has already been launched. In fact, it is by now in its initial phase. However, many businesses are still not aware of the new scheme, especially those who are covered by the qualifications for ESOS. To help them understand what they need to do in compliance to the energy efficiency strategy, here are key steps they can follow along the way.

Measure Overall Energy Consumption

The first step to complying with ESOS is to make an initial estimate of the business’ energy consumption. This includes measuring the use of electricity, renewable energy, combustible fuels and all other forms of energy consumed whether in buildings, transports and industrial processes.

Three important factors to consider are the measurement units used, the reference period and quality of data. Energy units, such as MWh and GJ, or energy expenditure costs should be applied. Business enterprises should also do the initial measurement within a reference period of 12 months. Moreover, data collected should be verifiable at hand.

Identify Areas of Significant Energy Consumption

When the total energy consumption for all the activities and assets has already been estimated, it’s then time to identify what areas in the organisation comprise the significant portion of the overall energy usage. The areas recognised should cover at least 90% of the overall consumption. Meaning to say, ESOS participants have the chance to omit 10% of the energy consumption and instead focus on the 90%. This would ensure that subsequent energy audits will be cost-effective and proportionate.

Consider and Choose Compliance Routes

In order to comply with ESOS, qualified businesses should consider what compliance routes to take. These routes include taking series of energy audits, operating and implementing a certified ISO 50001 energy management system, acquiring Display Energy Certificates (DECs) and working with Green Deal assessments. Whichever route the business takes, one should maintain credible evidences, along with helpful documents, to certify their compliance.

Report the Compliance

Except when the large enterprise covers all the significant areas of energy consumption by means of ISO 50001 certification, one should appoint a lead assessor to supervise, conduct and review the organisation’s chosen ESOS compliance route. In this case, the approved assessments should then be signed off at board level to ensure that the conclusions and recommendations for energy savings are properly carried. To confirm their compliance, the business should submit a formal notification to the Environment Agency.

Because ESOS is not just an opportunity but also an obligation, it designated compliance bodies and gave them the authority to file civil penalties towards those who fail to comply with the scheme. Not only that, these appropriate authorities have the right to publish information about non-compliant enterprises including their name, details of non-compliance and corresponding penalty amount. Among these UK compliance bodies are Natural Resources Wales, Environment Agency in England, The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

So, if you are covered with the ESOS qualifications, make sure to be informed. As the famous saying goes, “Ignorance of the law excuses no one.” Likewise, awareness of ESOS is a responsibility every large business in UK should give importance to.

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Keys to Successful Matrix Management

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Matrix management, in itself, is a breakthrough concept. In fact, there are a lot of organizations today that became successful when they implemented this management technique. However, there are also organizations that started it but failed. And eventually abandoned it in the end.

Looking at these scenarios, we can say that when you implement matrix management in your organisation, two things can happen – you either succeed or fail. And there’s nothing in between. The truth is, the effectiveness of matrix management lies in your hands and in your implementation. To ensure that you achieve your desired results, recognise these essential keys to successful matrix management.

Establish Performance Goals and Metrics

This should be done as soon as the team is formed, at the beginning of the year or during the process of setting organisational objectives. Whenever it is, the most important thing is that each team player understands the objectives and metrics to which their performances will be evaluated. This ensures that everyone is looking at the same set of objectives as they carry out their individual tasks.

Define Roles and Responsibilities

One pitfall of matrix management is its internal complexity. Awareness of this limitation teaches you to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the team players up front. Basically, there are three principal sets of roles that should be explained vividly – the matrix leader, matrix managers and the matrixed employees. It is important to discuss all the possible details on these roles, as well as their specific responsibilities, to keep track of each other’s participation in the projects of the organisation.

One effective tool to facilitate this discussion is through the RACI chart – Who is Responsible? Who is Accountable? Who should be Consulted? Who will Implement? With this, clarification of roles and responsibilities would be more efficient.

When roles are already clearly defined, each participant should review their job descriptions and key performance metrics. This is to make sure that the roles and responsibilities expected of you integrates consistently with your job in the organisation, as a whole.

Manage Deadlines

In matrix management, the employees report to several managers. They will likely have multiple deadlines to attend to and accomplish. There might even be conflicts from one deadline to another. Hence, each should learn how to schedule and prioritise their tasks. Time management and action programs should be incorporated to keep the grace under pressure.

Deliver Clear Communication

Another pitfall of matrix management is heightened conflict. To avoid unrealistic expectations, the matrix leaders and managers should communicate decisions and information clearly to their subordinates, vice versa. It would help if everyone will find time to meet regularly or send timely reports on progress.

Empower Diversity

Knowledge, working styles, opinions, skills and talents are diverse in a matrix organisation. Knowing this fact, each should understand, appreciate and empower the learning opportunities that this diversity presents. Trust is important. Respect to each other’s opinions is vital. And acknowledgement of differing viewpoints is crucial.

The impetus of matrix management is the same – mobilise the organisation’s resources and skills to cope with the fast-paced changes in the environment. So, maximise the benefits of matrix management as you consider these essential keys to its successful implementation.

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IT Transformation Defined

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Businesses depend on IT to effectively manage business processes and to provide products and services to clients. As IT technologies advance, it is crucial that businesses update their hardware to remain competitive. But businesses should do more than simply upgrade their servers and should really strive to effect IT transformation.

What is IT Transformation?

IT transformation is the ongoing process of changing the way that a company uses IT to better align it with current business goals. Through the IT transformation process, businesses try to determine whether they are meeting mission-critical benchmarks through the incorporation of new IT technologies for corporate transformation.

For example, if one of the current business concerns is whether the company can improve customer service, the IT system will need to evolve in such a way that improves customer service in a measurable way.

Successfully Aligning the Technology to Business Goals

In order to successfully align the IT system with business goals, it is important to understand the newly integrated technologies to understand how they can change business processes. If a new feature is intended to make the server more secure, the management should know exactly how the feature will improve the security of the server and whether the new implementation is redundant.

Once the business objectives have been identified, IT transformation is carried out by changing both the software and hardware used by the company. An example would be the growing trend of server migration to the cloud. Cloud computing is the growing trend of making files and data accessible from anywhere. If an organisation believes that it can improve productivity through a server cloud migration, it will need a way to test this.

The IT Transformation Process

Given that IT transformation is directly related to the core business, the IT transformation process must begin by identifying which aspects of the company must be changed. Then, the company must determine IT services that could potentially be integrated into the business in a way that will help the company achieve benchmarks. After the key decision-makers understand the IT network well enough to effectively implement it, the company must efficiently manage the transformation process. Then, after the IT has been integrated, the company must have a system in place to measure business transformation in a numerical way.

For example, when assessing customer satisfaction, one effective strategy would be to distribute customer satisfaction surveys that ask customers to rate their experiences on a scale of one to ten. The company can then measure the results of the customer satisfaction survey to determine whether the new IT implementations are accomplishing their intended goals.

If the expected benchmarks are not being met, the next step in the IT transformation process is to determine if there is a specific reason for that. Is there a way that the feature can be better integrated to achieve desired business objectives? Are there other features that can help the company better achieve its goals?

Upgrading a network can be an expensive process and it is important to identify early on which options are the most likely to benefit the company’s bottom line.

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