project management structure blog feature

Project Management Organizational Structures (Including 5 Examples and Templates)

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!

Keep reading!

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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.

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.

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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

Project Organization Functional
Example of a Functional Project Organization Structure in ClickUp

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

Project Organization Project Oriented
Projectized organizational structure in ClickUp

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:

Weak structure

Project Organization Matrix Weak
Example of a weak matrix organizational structure in ClickUp

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 structure

Balanced Functional Organization Structure
Example of a balanced project management organizational structure in ClickUp

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.

Strong structure

Project Organization Matrix Strong
Example of a strong organizational structure in ClickUp

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.

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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.

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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.

content calendar template from clickup
The ClickUp Content Calendar Template organizes all your content in one manageable space for teams to work in sync

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.

ClickUp Creative and Design Workflow Template
Build a complete workflow for your creative and design teams with this helpful ClickUp template

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.

ClickUp Sales Process Template
Organize your sales team and give them a reference point on how to nurture a lead from prospect to customer

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.

ClickUp Employee Handbook Template Table of Contents
Use ClickUp’s Employee Handbook Template to document and finalize all organizational procedures

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
ClickUp Construction Management Template
Synchronize team and contractor resources, track progress, and visualize projects with this ClickUp Construction Management Template
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How to Create an Organizational Structure in ClickUp

The two easiest ways to create a project management structure in ClickUp are through our ClickUp Mind Map and ClickUp Whiteboards features.

Using ClickUp Mind Maps to define project structures

Simple Mind Map template by ClickUp
Visualize your workflow in a flexible diagram with the Simple Mind Map template by ClickUp

First things first, what is a Mind Map? In the context of this article, a mind map is a visual representation of the internal structure of your organization.

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.

blank node and task-node in clickup mind-maps
An example of a blank node and task node within the ClickUp Mind Maps View

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

ClickUp Mind Maps
Plan and organize projects, ideas, or existing tasks in ClickUp for the ultimate visual outline

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

Customize your ClickUp Mind Map
Easily add nodes, tasks, and connections to your intuitive ClickUp Mind Map

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

rearranging nodes in ClickUp Mind Maps
Within ClickUp’s Mind Maps, you can easily rearrange nodes based on their hierarchal structure

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

Mind Mapping in ClickUp
Adding colors to your Mind Maps in ClickUp helps important tasks stand out on your project timeline

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

save a mind map as a flowchart template in ClickUp
Quickly save a Mind Map as a flowchart template in ClickUp

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

ClickUp Whiteboard gif connecting workflow and working simultaneously with your team
Drag and drop shapes onto your canvas, connect your workflow together and work with your team at the same time in ClickUp Whiteboard

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.

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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.

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