What is a project organization?
The project organization is the project design or the framework within which the project is carried out. This includes in particular the selection of stakeholders, the respective tasks and responsibilities as well as the communication channels between them. The goal is either to organize the project in such a way that it can be integrated into existing company structures or alternatively exist in new, parallel structures. The choice of the project organization is the first step of the work structure. It is also the first step towards successful project implementation and thus a decisive step for the future.
Why is project organization important?
The project organization is crucial, because only in rare cases are significant additional employee capacities supplemented by hiring or external staff. This leads directly to the danger of double workload for the employees involved in the project. A clear project organization is necessary in order to maintain an overview in the confusion of competencies and - as far as possible - to guarantee a separation of operational and project tasks. In addition, the choice of the project organization defines the main communication channels and thus simplifies unnecessary stress situations. The distribution of roles in the project is also a result of a good work structure. Ultimately, a clear organizational form also promotes a feeling of transparency within the project team.
Components of the project organization
The Project Manager
The task of the project manager is the operative planning and control of the project. In particular, this includes constant schedule and cost control. Any other responsibilities depend on the concrete type of organization. The project manager's powers are basically divided into technical powers of instruction and disciplinary powers. Technical authority to issue instructions is understood to mean the right of management to give technical instructions and recommendations for action to employees. The disciplinary powers of instruction aim at also taking personnel policy measures.
There are various possibilities for filling the role of project leader; e.g. the tasks can be taken over by an individual or a group. In addition, the position can be filled by internal employees or external persons. The advantage of internal staffing is that the employees already know the company and therefore need less time to get used to it. On the other hand, external people have a fresh view of things and can work more impartially and possibly make more delicate project decisions without political ballast.
The project group
The project group is responsible for the implementation of the tasks within the project. It can also take on different sizes depending on the project. Usually people from different fields come together to implement the project. One of the most important aspects in the selection of the project group is therefore whether the members are team players. Otherwise, considerable problems can arise during implementation. Depending on the importance and intensity of the project, it is therefore advisable to strengthen the team spirit at the beginning by joint activities or early involvement in the project planning.
Management is often involved in projects as a strategic driving force, sparring partner and supervisory authority. Sometimes the participation does not go beyond the initiation phase. Their role in the project can vary greatly and is not clearly defined.
The Steering Committee
The steering committee is another steering and control body and as such is dedicated exclusively to the project and not to day-to-day business. Usually it includes members of the management and other clients of the project. Together, the steering committee makes decisions at regular intervals, makes legal and scheduling agreements, and also carries out cost controls.
When will the project organization be determined?
The choice of the project organization is made at the beginning of the creation of the work structure plan. The entire project structure depends on it - in its planning but also in its later implementation. Based on the project organization, more precise work packages and measures can then be defined.
Which project organizations are there?
Usually there are three different types of project organizations. These depend, among other things, on the available capacities, the project duration and the importance of the project. The organisation types have different advantages and disadvantages which can affect the success of the project. Therefore, an organisation should be chosen that fits the project. For projects with special conditions, mixed forms or extensions of the organization types are also possible.
Autonomous Organization (Task Force)
An autonomous project organisation arises when the project team members completely detach themselves from their original fields of activity and only work on the project. The project manager takes on a more dominant role here, as he has the authority to issue technical and disciplinary directives. The advantage here is that close cooperation and a strong focus on the project can lead to a high degree of identification of the participants with their goals. The resulting direct communication channels also simplify the work process. However, it should be taken into account that both the separation of the project participants from their previous tasks and their later re-entry into the original fields of work can be time-consuming. For these reasons, an autonomous organisation is often used, for example, in more complex large-scale and international projects. This type of project organization can also increase the efficiency of work in projects with critical deadlines.
Staff line organization
A staff line organisation means that the project manager has a staff position subordinate to the company management and thus no responsibility for results. The project manager has neither technical nor disciplinary authority. In most cases he does not have his own project team, but shares his staff with other departments. However, by supporting the management and, in many cases, the departments involved, he can assert his opinion. However, the primary role of the project manager here is primarily consultative and coordinating. In contrast to an autonomous organisation, a laboratory organisation does not change the actual structure of the company. The project team can be set up with few resources and in the shortest possible time and dissolved later. However, it should also be taken into consideration that the lack of the project manager's authority to issue directives usually makes coordination with other project participants quite time-consuming. Especially because line work usually has priority during the project and the project is carried out on the side, the choice of a laboratory organization is recommended especially for smaller projects that are carried out across departments.
This type of organisation can be described as a kind of hybrid between a staff organisation and an autonomous organisation. Project employees remain in their specialist departments and are only available to the project to a certain extent. While the project manager has the technical authority to issue instructions for the project, the respective department heads retain their disciplinary authority to issue instructions and the technical authority for the staff accompanying the project. The advantage here is that employees remain in their own departments, so that reintegration after the end of the project can be dispensed with and the operative business continues to be stable. In addition, employees can benefit from the knowledge and exchange in their specialist department and, if necessary, access additional resources in their departments. On the other hand, conflicts between project and department goals can quickly arise. Constant prioritization of tasks and management of stakeholders on the project and department side is therefore essential for project success in the matrix organization. The time required for this task should not be underestimated. The matrix organisation is particularly suitable for medium-sized to large projects that are important or time-critical and whose stakeholders in your specialist departments must not be completely absent.
What should you consider when choosing the project organization?
Finding the optimal organizational form is not easy, because many factors around the company and the project have to be considered. We recommend to clarify the project organization together with a selection or even all team members - e.g. in the context of a workshop. This guarantees that all participants feel involved, that questions can be clarified and that possible problems can be uncovered directly. In this way, you can approach the coming steps of project structure planning in the knowledge that the project organization supports your goals in the best possible way.
Planning and implementing projects with Falcon
However, we recommend that you use professional project management software for the planning and implementation of your projects. The Falcon software developed by us was specially designed for strategy projects. Simply create a project structure directly in Falcon and define who is allowed to see or edit what. The structure is flexible and adaptable at any time.
With intelligent tools and smart functions, Falcon makes project management, progress control and reporting intuitive. Falcon creates clear responsibilities and, especially for complex projects with large teams, a simple overview of the overall project, goals and progress.