Most projects are conducted by a project team. There are many structures for forming a project team within an organization.
When to use
Unless the project is a very small one-person project, there will be a team of individuals doing the work of the project. The size and scope of the project will determine how big that team needs to be. Large projects often have a Project Management Team (typically referred to as a Core Team) and may have a project management staff to assist the project manager. A project may change its structure as it goes from one phase to another in the project life-cycle. I recommend reviewing the makeup of the Project Management Team at the beginning of each phase and making any needed changes at that time.
There are several elements to a project team discussed in the PMBOK® Guide. There are the different elements of the project team and the different team structures, each of which are discussed below. Most organizations actually operate as a hybrid of several of these structures.
Project Team: “A set of individuals who support the project manager in performing the work of the project to achieve its objectives.”
Project Management Team: “The members of the project team who are directly involved in project management activities. On some smaller projects, the project management team may include virtually all of the project team members.”
Project Management Staff: “The members of the project team who perform project management activities such as schedule, communications, risk management, etc.”
Project Team Directory: “A documented list of project team members, their project roles, and communication information.”
Definitions are taken from the Glossary of the Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013, Pages 555 and 556.
Components of the Project Team
If a project has more than one person doing project work, it has a project team. Depending upon the scope and scale of the project there may be different levels of involvement by team members in project management work. The project manager is always involved in project management. The other project team members who are conducting project management activities (in contrast to only doing functional tasks on the project) are referred to as the Project Management Team. On small projects the Project Team and Project Management Team are one and the same. On large projects, the Project Manager may have a Project Management Staff that does not perform functional activities, but rather they assist in the project management activities such as schedule planning and tracking or risk management. Project staff members may be full-time, part- time or their involvement may change from time to time depending upon what is happening within the project. All the project team members, regardless of their role, are normally listed in a Project Team Directory which includes their contact information.
Functional Project Team Structure
Project teams can be organized using a functional structure. In this case, there is no assigned project manager. The individuals doing project work report to the functional managers and all project management activities are accomplished by the functional managers. Project team members do not communicate with each other. They complete their work and it goes to the functional managers who then manage the interactions with other functional managers.
Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013, Figure 2-1, Page 22 and Figure 2-5, Page 25.
Projectized Team Structure
In the projectized team structure all project team members are assigned and report to the project manager. The organization is managed as a set of independent parallel projects. All project coordination activities are done within the projects and the project manager has full authority over all aspects of the project.
Many projects are organized in a matrix manner. This allows the function to manage the technical aspects of the project work and the project manager to manage and coordinate the project aspects of the project work. The terminology of weak or strong matrix refers to the authority of the project manager.
In the weak matrix structure, the organization looks similar to the functional structure. The major difference is that the project team members are allowed and encouraged to communicate and coordinate directly with each other. One of them may take on the role of project coordinator or expediter. However, the project management decision-making is still conducted by the Functional Managers.
The balanced matrix structure begins to look slightly different from the functional and weak matrix structure. In this case one of the staff members within one of the functions has the position of Project Manager. This individual is responsible for the planning and coordination of project activities. They coordinate directly with the other project team members. However, they do not have direct responsibility for directly supervising the project team members, nor do they normally have full time project staff to support them.
Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013, Figure 2-2, Page 23, Figure 2-3, Page 24, and Figure 2-4, Page 24.
The strong matrix structure looks significantly different from either the functional or projectized structure. It has all the elements of a functional structure with the addition of an entirely new function, that of the Project Management function, which is normally referred to as the Project Management Office (PMO).
The Project Managers are part of the project management function and they have the full authority of a project manager, providing the project management direction to the other project team members. The other project team members are still shown in their functional department but they often take most of their direction from the project manager. This often leads to the project team members feeling as though they report to two managers simultaneously. The project manager will often have full-time project management staff supporting them in a strong matrix structure.
Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013, Figure 2-4, Page 24. PMBOK is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
Lesson notes are only available for subscribers.
PMI, PMP and PMBOK are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.