There are a number of different ways that an organisation can be structured. First of all, there is the classic hierarchy which is a functional one where every member of a team reports to just one project manager. Another organisational structure is the more matrix structure where team members report to both project managers and also functional managers. Finally, there is the projectised organisation structure where the majority of the individuals work on projects.
The one thing that you will find is that the type of structure has a significant effect on how each project, and the people working on the project, perform.
When it comes to the functional hierarchy structure, the one thing that you will find is that the projects themselves are not the priority. This approach can all too often make it rather difficult for projects to actually succeed. The project manager themselves, unfortunately, has almost no authority over the project. Rather, as a functional manager, it is more likely that you will find they are in control of things like the project budget. Because team members actually report to the functional manager rather than a project manager it resources will all too often be hard to come by.
This type of structure can be tricky because even the project manager themselves, and the other members of the project team, find themselves in a position where they must split their attention between their regular work and also the work that is required for the project.
Matrix organisational structure
Whilst the matrix organisation structure can still be considered to be a functional hierarchy, what you will see if that they actually support projects to a greater extent than you might find with a pure hierarchy. This type of structure can be strong, balanced or weak depending on how much emphasis is placed on each individual project. In a matrix project structure, some of the authority over the making of decisions belongs to the project manager. The resources that are assigned to the project, i.e. the other members of the project team, report to two different managers, the project manager and also the functional manager. In cases where there is a strong matrix, everyone from the project manager to all of the admin staff that are involved in the project will work full time on that project and nothing else.
When it comes to a projectised organisation, as the name would indicate, everything is all about the projects themselves. This type of organisational structure allows for an environment that makes it much easier for project managers to achieve the results they are looking for with their projects. With a projectised organisation structure, the project manager has almost complete authority when it comes to every aspect of the project, including the project budget. The resources that are allocated to the project are dedicated only to the work that is required for that project, and they report directly to the project manager and to nobody else. Everyone who is involved in the project, from the project manager to every member of the admin staff who has been assigned to the project, will work full-time on the work that is required for the project. They will not work on anything else during this time.
The structure that an organisation chooses to use has a significant influence on how each individual project can perform. It will also have an influence on just how much work the project manager themselves will be able to do and, perhaps more importantly, how easy it will be for the project manager and the entire project team to make any of the projects that they undertake successful, in terms of being on a budget, completing the project by any set timescale or by producing the desired outcome.
It is important, therefore, that any company considers carefully which organisational structure it feels is best suited to its organisation. Whichever approach they do chose will naturally have a significant impact on how the project is performed. It will also determine just how much the project manager can do, as well as where their hands might be a little tied by not being the only manager involved and just how easy it might be to make any projects that are undertaken a success. Once you have chosen a structure, you may find that it is not the right one for your organisation, so it is important to consider your choice carefully. Changing to another structure isn’t impossible, but it will almost certainly be confusing to the members of your team.