How to Structure a Team


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The way you structure a team can help facilitate all aspects of a project. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows you how to structure teams to make them more creative, productive and efficient.

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference!

why and how to structure teams

In Review – How to Structure a Team

Why should you care about how a team is structured? Jennifer noted several reasons. Structuring a team…

  • Stimulates creativity
  • Encourages engagement
  • Establishes strong relationships
  • Boosts productivity
  • Sparks innovation

Any one of those reasons should be enough, but maybe you still think that it’s better to consider team structure later. Jennifer disagrees. Here’s why…

  • Agile development demands a certain structure for its teams
  • Customers demanding speed of delivery require teams that are structured to work quickly
  • Structured teams help with needed knowledge exchange
  • Customers want structured teams to help fulfill their wants and needs
  • Technological advances and modern project management tools support structured teams
  • Market disruptions require a more structured team to deal nimbly with changes

What to Consider

Jennifer added that the old top-down structure can’t last. Therefore it’s time to reevaluate by considering the following:

  • Are you doing project work or operational work?
  • Are you doing traditional waterfall development or Agile development?
  • Are you working in global or local markets?
  • Are you doing creative or structured work?

Organizational Structures

There are plenty of ways to organize and structure teams. Jennifer offered these five:

  1. Functional: these are often used by sales or marketing operations
  2. Product-based: for hardware- and software-based projects
  3. Market-based: best in commercial and residential projects
  4. Geographic: when teams are not located in the same site or even country
  5. Process-based: determined by the focus of the project, such as if it’s customer attraction or customer conversion

Building Blocks

Again, there are many ways to build a structured team, but Jennifer narrowed down that list to the following four to determine how you’ll structure your team:

  1. Chain of Command: Is your chain of command long, from CEO on down, or is it short?
  2. Span of Control: Note if it’s wide or short.
  3. Centralization: Is the company centrally organized or decentralized?
  4. Specialization: Highly specialized or not?

Pro-Tip: If you’re thinking of structuring your team, then you’re probably thinking about upgrading your project management software. If you’re on the fence, there are any number of reasons why to move to a more robust, online tool to help teams work collaboratively, autonomously and more productively.

Thanks for watching!


Today we’re talking about how to structure a team. So, why do we care about this topic?

Well, with a great team you can stimulate creativity, encourage engagement not only among your team members but your stakeholders and other suppliers and partners.

You can establish strong relationships among the team. You can boost productivity and also spark innovation and new ideas.

So why now, why is this so important? Well, now there are teams doing agile development specifically to help with speed of delivery.

Now customers are requiring and demanding things to be delivered more quickly.

There’s also a huge knowledge exchange now.

And again, customer demands, technology advancements, and market disruptions almost in every industry.

So now the top-down structure just can’t last. So it’s time to reevaluate. So when we reevaluate, we wanna think about these four things.

Number one, is your team doing project work or operational work? Sometimes, people create a team of a mix and sometimes it works and sometimes it inhibits the project work because the operational work, if there’s something that goes wrong, then that’s going to trump or override the project work.

So you also wanna consider are you doing traditional development or agile development. Again, sometimes teams have a hybrid, a hybrid of these two types of development.

And then sometimes based on preference, these teams are separated or segmented. So you also wanna look at what markets are you serving, are you serving global markets or local markets?

And then also you wanna take a look at what type of work is this. Is it creative type work or is it maybe something structured around technology, engineering type work?

Well, let’s look at five organizational structures. These are not all of the possibilities of organizational structures but these are just five for example.

Number one, it’s functional. So functional has been around for a long time, and you’ve seen it in most organizations where you have the sales team, the marketing team, and the operations team.

Then there’s also product base. So the work is designed and segmented by, for an example, one group may be working on hardware. Another group may be working on software.

You also again may look at the market based work. Sometimes in real estate, you may look at commercial and residential type real estate.

There’s also geographic areas. These are just two examples of maybe you have a North America team and a South America team.

And then there’s a process based as well. Maybe there’s one team that’s focused on customer attraction and then the other one maybe once you get the customers, they may be focused on converting those customers.

So here are four building blocks that HubSpot writes about. They have more but these are just four that I picked out is looking at the chain of command, is there a long chain of command, meaning is there CEO and multiple levels of directors and managers before you ever get to the line workers or is it short? Maybe you have a CEO and maybe a director manager and then your team members?

Also the span of control. In some organization, there’s a wide span of control. Maybe there is a director who has multiple divisions or business units or teams under them, or maybe it’s just short. Maybe it’s more important to have fewer or less people.

We can also look at centralization. Are the teams centralized or decentralized? Centralized, meaning that business units or the segments can be in one team or they may be distributed on separate teams.

We can also look at specialization. Are the teams highly specialized or not? Highly specialized may be a certain type of construction project, may be a certain technology project. But these are some of the building blocks to consider, some of the structures to look at so that we can achieve some of these things for our team and meet the market needs.

So if you need a tool that can help you with your team structure, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.