Many modern companies advocate a flat hierarchy. And although that makes it sound almost like there isn’t one, organizations and projects always have some sort of hierarchy.
When you unfold the different styles and ways to structure projects, you prevent them from turning into a hot mess. With the right project management structure, everyone in your team—and the teams around you—will know exactly who is what.
It’ll be so much easier to control work and make the best decisions for the project and, ultimately, the business.
In this article, you’ll learn what defines a project management structure and how to choose one. But more importantly, we’ll give you directions on how to easily create those structures in ClickUp!
- What Are Project Management Structures Used for?
- Different Types of Project Organizational Structures
- How to Choose the Best Organizational Structure for Your Team
- 5 Project Management Structure Examples and Templates for Different Teams
- How to Create an Organizational Structure in ClickUp
What Are Project Management Structures Used for?
A project management structure is used to clarify the hierarchy and, consequently, the report lines in a project. The structure outlines each project intervenient’s function and authority to supervise and make decisions.
These organizational structures take the shape of charts. And their value lies in being a reference for team members to go back to during the project’s execution.
After all, with employee attrition and turnover, project management structures change. And the same might happen during holidays and when you hire many new workers.
But the project might have just started, requiring the definition of its organizational structure. Or it might be so old that its organizational structure has changed over time.
It’s faster and more comfortable to check a chart in an accessible repository than bugging (sometimes various) colleagues asking whom to talk with to solve an urgent matter.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT OR PROJECT ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE?
Some refer to these structures as “project organizational structures” instead of “project management structures.” That’s because they represent the organization of people around a project. And depending on the structure, the style of coordinating and managing the project team’s work and communication changes.
Nevertheless, any project management structure serves as a foundation for:
- Clear communication: Align all team members before and during a project on the expected kind of contribution each one will have to minimize conflicts
- Effective team collaboration: Clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and the connections between them
- Optimization of workflows: Staff, technological systems, and materials within and between projects are defined
- Removal of possible roadblocks: These might exist because of excessive or deficient resource allocation and workload
And all of the above characteristics are somehow project management principles.
Different Types of Project Organizational Structures
Let’s have a look at the three main types of project management structures. Each has a different configuration of team member roles within projects and the company.
And that determines the responsibilities and authority of each individual within the context of a project or the company. Beware that we’ll show you templates you might need to customize to your reality.
But in the meantime, check the differences between the structure types at these levels:
- The project manager’s role
- The coordination of work and people, which is either vertical or horizontal
- The line versus staff positions, considering that
- A line position represents a team member directly involved with the product.
- A staff position represents someone who supports the work of those in line positions without getting directly involved with the product.
- The concentration of decision-making, which is either owned by a few team members or distributed across the company
Functional organizational structure
The functional project management organizational structure organizes staff members into departments. And each one of those departments represents a functional area within the company, such as HR, finance, or marketing.
A functional manager is responsible for each one of the departments. And an executive oversees their work.
Functional managers are the decision-making authorities and coordinate projects horizontally. And for each project, they select team members from the respective department’s staff. Those team members accumulate their responsibilities within the department—for instance, payroll processing—with project work.
Recommended for: Cross-functional projects that staff can accumulate with their departmental responsibilities
Projectized organizational structure
In the projectized (or project-based) project management organizational structure, the largest divisions of people within the company are projects (not departments). And similarly, the coordination of work is project-oriented, thus vertical.
Also, the authority to supervise work belongs to project managers—one per project. And they allocate staff members to projects, which means that those members are dedicated to projects (instead of departments).
Recommended for: Small agencies and young startups
Matrix organizational structure
A matrix structure is a grid in which project team members have two report lines. There are variations of this structure that include:
At first glance, this matrix organizational project management structure looks the same as the functional organizational structure. But there’s a difference: Staff members coordinate the project’s work across departments (instead of a functional manager) in this matrix structure.
Balanced matrix structures don’t have full-time project managers. Instead, a project manager is also a staff member and accumulates departmental work with the responsibilities of part-time project coordination. Plus, a functional manager is still the one making decisions on project budgets, resource allocation, and other aspects.
The strong matrix structure contains a special department exclusively dedicated to project management. And the members of that department are all full-time, cross-functional project managers (supervised by a functional manager).
A manager of all project managers heads the project management department. And every project manager has authority over their own projects.
How to Choose the Best Organizational Structure for Your Team
Don’t know which project management organizational structure is best for you? No problem! Here are a few thoughts and guidelines to help you figure that out:
Analyze your constraints for resource allocation
When you consider your resource constraints, think about the staff and labor, but also you want to evaluate resources like software, tools, and other team expenses.
Your hiring budget affects the allocation of human resources. And it determines the functions each employee takes on. Also, the budget influences each team member’s time available for project work.
- A functional organizational structure suits staff that must accumulate project work with departmental responsibilities
- In weak-matrix structures, team members coordinate the project alongside departmental work
- Balanced-matrix structures have some staff members accumulate project coordination with departmental work
- Projectized structures require you to plan to have a project manager dedicated only to supervising project work
- Strong-matrix structures require enough budget for a full-time project manager and a project management department with a dedicated head
Realize which authority your project managers need
That’s their decision autonomy, largely depending on the project management structure you select. But the decision power also depends on the existence of functional managers in addition to a project manager.
Besides, the project organizational structure impacts the communication between staff and project managers. In other words, it defines the report lines within projects.
- In a balanced matrix structure, a project manager doesn’t make decisions on budget or hiring personnel
- A project manager in projectized structures doesn’t share authority in projects
- Matrix-like structures have project team members report to both a project and functional manager
Evaluate the size and complexity of your projects
When a project is less complex or smaller, the project manager can have other functions besides coordinating project work. They can accumulate project coordination with project and/or departmental work.
Smaller projects work best with functional, weak-matrix, and balanced-matrix structures.
On the other hand, larger or more complex projects fit organizational structures with project managers who don’t do the departmental or project work. An organizational structure that works best here includes projectized and strong-matrix structures.
Appraise your company’s maturity
If an organization isn’t mature yet, it might not have departments. And this means that departmental duties are residual, so personnel is dedicated to project work almost their entire time. This works best for young startups.
5 Project Management Structure Examples and Templates for Different Teams
Once you choose a project management organizational structure, you might need to customize it for your team. But we’re one step ahead and have some examples to save you time. Have a look at the five different project management structure examples you might run across:
1. Marketing team project management structure
This simple example of an organizational structure applies to content marketing teams. In the example, the blog manager is a project manager. The blogs are tasks in the project, and the team members are the content strategists, blog writers, and illustrators involved in creating posts.
Illustrators report not only to the blog manager but also to the creative manager. The latter decides the budget and allocations of illustrators and other creative positions to the blog project and other projects, such as social media campaigns.
Typically, the blog manager and sometimes the creative manager report to the content director (or Head of Creative). And this director reports to the VP of marketing or chief marketing officer.
2. Design team project management structure
One organizational structure might work better for one team other another—which is why a functional organizational structure is important for design teams. But we just showed you one of the possibilities, which contains a design lead among project team members.
In this structure example, each project manager supervises a project team. And the coordinator of project managers is the product manager, who defines the roadmap governing all projects related to a product.
Project team 1 develops the website. Team 2 creates design components that appear on the website. And team 3 builds software components that the computer programmer in team 1 uses.
This means that teams might be multidisciplinary yet have their own visual designer. But then a design lead coordinates the output of those designers, so it conforms to the same design guidelines.
3. Sales team project management structure
It’s common to organize sales teams and projects geographically as a sales director often supervises multiple regional sales managers, and each of the latter supervises district sales managers.
Depending on the district’s size, each district sales manager coordinates the work of one or more sales rep teams. The goal of each team is to grow the customer base and increase the revenue within the corresponding district.
4. HR team project management structure
For human resources teams, a project consists of large or complex HR work that demands a project manager to oversee it. Examples of these projects would be creating an employee onboarding experience, a handbook, or developing a severance program.
An HR department configuration with an HR director supervising an HR manager could be a functional organizational structure used for a business. Sometimes HR managers are responsible for their own teams, organized according to the nature of their work—recruiting, compensation, benefits, and learning and development (L&D).
For instance, to design an onboarding training course, the instructional designer could play the role of a project manager in addition to developing the course itself. And they’d count on the input of staff members from the other two teams to create the course, provided that the latter would maintain their recurring departmental duties, such as interviewing or payroll processing.
Bonus: Employee handbook software!
5. Construction team project management structure
Construction teams can have pretty elaborate project structures in place. And to create a structure, you must understand what each role within a construction project means:
- A senior project manager oversees the work of project managers and superintendents
- Project managers stay in the office, plan project goals with the senior manager, and ensure the team hits those goals They supervise both superintendents—at least one per project—and project administrators—usually one per project if the project is big enough
- Superintendents are managers on the job site responsible for defining schedules and overseeing the general foreperson
- The general foreperson—one per construction site—supervises trade forepeople and the execution of work by all the other field workers, such as carpenters, painters, drywall professionals, electricians, and plumbers
- Project administrators take care of all the paperwork that a project requires to run smoothly. That can be, for instance, requesting and tracking payments to vendors and subcontractors
How to Create an Organizational Structure in ClickUp
Using ClickUp Mind Maps to define project structures
It’s a diagram depicting the report and authority relationships between project staff members, managers, and other executives. You can use it to plan and set up your project and communicate the project management structure to the stakeholders.
Now in ClickUp, you can create a free-form mind map either in a Mind Map View or on Whiteboards. In the first case, add a mind map view to your ClickUp workspace. And in the second case, add a mind map to a whiteboard.
Note: You can convert mind map elements into ClickUp tasks. But if you’re working in a mind map view for the first time, we recommend you choose the blank mode (instead of the task mode).
Let’s go through the steps you must follow to create a mind map either in a mind map view or on a whiteboard.
Step 1: Draw the highest authority
Because mind maps are hierarchical structures, start with representing the highest position of authority in your project. That position is a root node in the diagram.
Step 2: Represent the first level of child nodes
Depending on the type of project organizational structure you selected, draw the root node’s child nodes. Those can be functional managers, project managers, or managers of project managers. And if it’s helpful, name each position with the person’s name.
Step 3: Branch child nodes
At this point, depending on your project management structure, do one of these:
- Add staff members and project managers to functional departments by branching them off from functional managers.
- Add staff members to project teams by branching them off from project managers.
And if you have a project management department, add project managers to that department by branching them off from the manager of project managers.
Step 4: Highlight project teams
Delimit each project team. You can do it, for instance, by using different colors for distinct project teams. There are other ways on Whiteboards to denote by shapes or colors as well.
Step 5: Mark project managers
Signal full-time and part-time project managers. For instance, tag nodes with symbols to make that distinction.
Want a faster way to get started? Use ClickUp’s Simple Mind Map template to get your project management structure in place.
And if you’re unsure if ClickUp is the right tool to design mind maps, check out our article on all of the best mind-mapping software options available on the market!
Using ClickUp Whiteboards to define project structures
Whiteboards are especially suited for collaborating remotely and in real-time with managers and other executives while determining a project management structure.
The steps for creating mind maps still apply to designing organizational structures on Whiteboards. Yet, instead of creating a Mind Map on a Whiteboard, you can spice up your structures with other visual elements and diagramming restrictions.
In ClickUp Whiteboards, you can draw shapes and link them with connectors. You can also add sticky notes and text to your project management structures and upload image files, such as headshots or symbols, to distinguish positions.
Pro tip: Use ClickUp’s Introduction to Whiteboards template to get started.
Thoughts to Keep Top of Mind
When you pick the best organizational structure for your project, you’re optimizing talent and resources. And you’re laying out the foundation for efficient workflow management and high-performance teams.
Because without those two ingredients, clear project goals, and a vision, there’s no way you’d get the desired outcomes and quality.
Connect with us! And we’ll help you set up a project management structure that makes the best impact on your projects.