July 10, 2018

Project Team Structure - What it is and Why is it Necessary?

What is a Project Team?

A Project Team is a group of individuals who belong to different departments or groups and are assigned to the activities and deliverables of the same project. A project team structure is formed for a fixed period of time and will be disbanded once the project has been completed. 
Project Team Structure, Project Team Structure Template, project management team structure
Project Team Structure Template

It is basically a group of members who work towards a common goal and are responsible for the desired outcomes. The project team comprises of the project manager along with all the project stakeholders who are responsible for the project implementation. 

The members of a team are the heart of the project and hence it is vital to ensure that the right people are brought together on a project. The success of a project greatly depends on a well connected and synchronized team. Project team members may have varied skills and may be working on the project full time or part time and may be co-located or at remote locations.

What is a project team structure and why is it necessary?

There are various ways to organize a team. For some projects especially the large and complex ones, there are sub-teams as there may be work being done on several parallel work streams simultaneously. Teams may be structured by functions, project or matrix or a combination of the three.

Functional based Project Team Structure: 

In this structure, teams will be organized by their functions and each sub-team will report to the functional manager.

Project based Team Structure: 

This is a more traditional structure where activities as organized as programs or portfolios and implemented through projects. Here, the project manager is in charge and has all team members reporting to him.

Matrix based Project Team Structure: 

Matrix organization structure, Matrix Team Structure,
Matrix Project Team Structure

In this structure, the authority of the functional manager flows downwards, while that of the horizontal flow is for the project manager. This type of structure is most suitable for organizations operating in a dynamic environment. Matrix organization is designed in such a way that employee have options to report to single as well as multiple managers.

The project manager heads up the project team with a direct reporting line to senior management. The team is structured such that the project manager is at the top of the structure and is responsible for the ownership of the project. The project team structure establishes a formal relationship between the project manager, the project team members and the other stakeholders. The project manager should be senior and have the authority to lead the project. The way a project team is structured can play a major role in how it functions.

Though a team structure will evolve and will be adjusted at each stage to meet the changing nature of the projects, it is necessary to consider the following while structuring the team:

  • Placing people working on a similar piece of work in the same team will generate collaboration, knowledge sharing and skills transfer. This will encourage people to work together and help each other to achieve their mutual goals.
  • It is extremely important to build a good and effective team. The team structure will influence how the team and its members behave. The project manager should aim to create a collaborative team where members support and are co-operative of each other, are willing to share knowledge and are motivated to achieve the team goals.

What are the roles in a project team?

A project team consists of many different roles some of which form part of the core project team. Others may be just stakeholders from various groups having interest in the project. The roles in a team will depend on the nature of the project. It is necessary to identify the right person for a role especially for those that require decision making and some level of authority and power.

Some roles in a project team may include project sponsor, project manager, developers, testers, business analysts, solutions architects etc.

Some of the critical roles in a project team are:

Project sponsor: 
The person who provides the funding for the project and has the authority in the decisions of the project.

Steering Committee: 
The group that is responsible for the regular oversight of the project. They should have representation from all major functions involved in the projects and are authorized to take decisions on behalf of those functions. Members would ideally be department heads, vice presidents or directors along with external representatives. The project manager would in most cases report to the steering committee.

Project manager: 
The person who manages the day to day activities and is responsible for the success of the project. The project manager would have control over all the project resources.

Hurdles to effective team development:
There could be many reasons or obstacles in the way of effective team development. For instance, if an individual considers his priorities more important that the end goal of the project, it may lead to conflict within the team. Communications gaps within the team can be another major reason.

Though the dynamics for each project team may be different as long as the team works collaboratively towards a common goal, it should be an effective team.

Thus, an organized project team structure helps in the smooth functioning of the team and ensures a close-knit team who works towards achieving a common goal.

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