Project Organization 101: How to Structure Your Project

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The day to get organized is now, not later. Without having some organization for your project, you run the risk of sending an extensive and time-consuming project spiraling into abject failure.

A well-organized project ensures that everyone knows what’s expected of them, what their authority is and what they need to do. It provides the track on which to run a project. Without it, a project is in shambles.

What Is Project Organization?

The project organization is the structure of the project. It’s created separately, with specialists and workers from various departments. These personnel work under the project manager.

Project organization is a process. It provides the arrangement for decisions on how to realize a project. It decides the project’s process: planning how its costs, deadlines, personnel and more will be implemented and by which project management tools. The project organization is then presented to the project stakeholders.

Areas of Responsibility

There are three areas of competence and responsibility in a project organizational structure: project leadership, project team and project board. The project leadership is responsible for the management of the project, and the project team implements the project. The project board is the decision-making body that defines project success and whether or not a project must be canceled.

Types of Project Organizational Structures

There’s a variety of project organizational structures. Here are three:

  • Functional is when the organizational departments are grouped by areas of specialization. In this case, the project is usually executed in a silo environment.
  • Projectized is when the entire organization is organized by the project.
  • Matrix has teams report to both a functional manager and project manager, sort of a hybrid of the previous two structures.
  • Organic project organization embraces flexibility.
  • Virtual is when the project manager is the hub in the network.
  • Multi-division means that functional groups are decentralized.

Understanding what type of organizational structure to use determines a project’s management. The structure provides the bones for the project, and therefore the project plan must align itself with the structure. This is usually done with a project organization chart.

Project Organizational Structure Charts

Figuring out what structure to make a project organization is only the start of organizing a project. The real work is implementing and applying that project organization. That’s why a project organization chart is so important. It establishes the formal relationships between the project manager, project team, development organization, the project itself and project stakeholders.

Best Practices

The project manager creates the project structure, which must meet the project needs throughout its phases. The project organizational structure, however, cannot be too rigid or too loose, but strike the right balance between those two points. The object of a project organization is to help the team achieve the project goal and do their best. Therefore, a project manager must analyze their team members’ strengths for the start and, when assigned, ask them if they’re comfortable in their roles.

While the project organization chart fosters collaboration in a cost-effective way, avoiding duplication and overlaps of effort, it has only limited value. That’s because it is only illustrating a hierarchical relationship among the team, not how they’ll do the work. That said, it is still a valuable tool and part of any well-planned project or portfolio.

How to Make a Project Organization Chart

The project organization chart will identify the roles and responsibilities of the team, but also detail those team members selected for those roles. This includes identifying training if needed, recognizing how to allocate resources and determining appropriate ways to involve stakeholders. To do this, there are six steps to take.

what goes into a project organization chart?

1. Identify Personnel

First, who are the people that are related to the project scope? These are those who have an impact on the project. They are the key staff. These people can run the gamut from marketers to salespeople, department heads and IT personnel to consultants and support staff, etc.

2. Create Senior Management Team

The next step is to get a team who is responsible for the project. These are, of course, those individuals with a vested interest in the project and are committed to its success. This team is usually made up of project sponsors or the client, though it can also include experts who offer guidance throughout the project.

3 Assign Project Coordinators

There’s a need to have a point person, or group at the mid-to-low management level, to carry out duties that fall to this level. This person or group will help synchronize team tasks. The number of coordinators will be determined by the size of the project, but always focus on three areas of a project: planning, technical and communications.

4. Note Stakeholders

Outside of the team that will execute the project, it is key to identify the stakeholders, as they are also impacted by the project and participate in the project development.

5. Identify Training Requirements

Sometimes teams are proficient at their tasks and with the tools that have been furnished to help them. Sometimes they’re not and need a period of training before the project can be executed. This is the point where any training that is needed is established and offered to the team. The project coordinator is usually who manages this task of upskilling team members.

6. Create Project Organization Chart

Finally, it’s time to develop the project organization chart. First, review the previous steps and then make this visual representation of how the people in the project will collaborate, what their duties are and where they’re interrelated. You can use a free network diagram tool, such as Google Draw, and when done have it disseminated to the necessary parties.

The project organization chart must have the primary decision-makers listed. Each person involved in the project must have an assignment and identified role and the responsibilities of those roles clearly defined. Any links connecting roles must be identified, as well as all the stakeholders. Be sure that the reporting and communications channels are also defined and described.

How ProjectManager.com Helps with Project Organization

Once you have your project organization structure and chart, it’s important to make sure that structure holds up over the life cycle of the project. Therefore, you want to have it incorporated and available throughout the course of the project.

Rolling out a project or portfolio of projects means that you must coordinate your team or teams across many projects. ProjectManager.com has the tools that project managers or program managers need when working on one or a portfolio of projects. Our features make sure your project organization is solid with features that keep track of project portfolios.

The strategic alignment of a project organizational structure is rife with risk and constraints, but ProjectManager.com has tracking tools that can extend to many teams. Our tools also allow certain team members to see certain projects, with a full view for the C-suite executives.

View Project and Portfolio Metrics on our Real-Time Dashboard

The most powerful tool is our real-time dashboard, which collects status updates and instantly crunches those numbers and reflects them over a number of project and portfolio metrics. That data can be filtered to reflect just the information you need for your team or stakeholders.

Dashboard for monitoring project progress
ProjectManager.com’s dashboard updates in real time

ProjectManager.com also allows you to create project groups for individual project portfolios. This allows you to have a portfolio-level dashboard, which can generate graphs and charts for reporting, or a Gantt chart on select groups of projects. Then you can organize by team, region, schedule or portfolio manager.

Gantt chart for maintaining project organization
ProjectManager.com’s Online Gantt Chart

ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that has a full set of features to help project managers and their teams work efficiently and productively. Whether you’re working on one project or a portfolio of projects, our robust software gives you the controls to manage them successfully, with planning, monitoring and reporting tools. See how ProjectManager.com can take your project organization chart and carry it through your project portfolio by taking this free 30-day trial.

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