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  • Writer's pictureMark Turnquest, CIPM

The Four Basic Ways To Organize People on Projects

You should structure the organization of people in One of Four basic ways during projects.

These include Functional (or line) organizations, Pure-project Structures, Matrix organization, or Mixed organizational structures.

Functional Project Organization (or line)- this organizational structure is appropriate when the project is clearly the responsibility of one department or division-mainly use for small projects.

Pure-Project Organizations-a team or task force is put together to accomplish the project's goals. In such an organization all team members report to the project manager during the course of the project.

In the direct version of the pure-project structure, every project team member report to the project manager. This is appropriate for small projects with 15 or fewer people involved.

In the Indirect version of Pure-project structure (suitable for larger projects), the project manager may have assistant managers or supervisors to manage Sub Projects or Functional areas within the project.

Pure-project organizations are found in companies fulfilling large government projects or in some engineering-driven companies.

Large construction projects often employ a pure-project organization as well if work spans over a year.

The Matrix Organization- One of the more common results of using project management in business is the introduction of Matrix Management.

Matrix management involves coordinating a web of relationships that comes about when people join the project team. They are subject to multiple authority-responsibility-accountability relationships in the organization.

The Matrix organization is an attempt to take advantage of the benefits of a Pure-project organization while maintaining the advantage of the Functional organization. It's rare to find Pure-project or Pure-functional organization in Business anymore.

In a Matrix Organization, team members come from various departments. A project manager for each project is defined.

Projects are managed as separate and focus activities. The project manager may report to a high-level executive or to one of the functional managers with the most interest in the project.

Mixed Organization- some companies employ a mixture of functional,matrix, and pure-project organizations to accomplish enterprise goals.

In companies with a wide range of projects, a project management office (PMO) may be set up to help administer projects at will.

The people in the office provide expertise and assistance in planning and tracking projects.

When a project has more than one purpose, mixed organizational structures are the norm.

Mixed organizations are not distinguishable from most Matrix organizations because of the complexity of relationships, and most of the strength and weaknesses of a matrix organization also apply to a mixed organizational structure.

Which Structure Should You Use?

The organization you choose for most ordinary business projects will probably be an adaptation of a matrix or functional organization.

Always develop an organization chart that clearly shows who reports to whom so there are no mistakes or assumptions.

Matching the organization to fit the project:

Project size, project length, experience of the team members, location of the project, and factors unique to the project all have influence on the selection of a project organizational form.


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