Organizing Your Projects

Organizing Your ProjectProjects teams are made up of a combination of employees and outside contractors. The internal and external members of the team must be clear about their roles and responsibilities.

Work is divided by function such as sales, customer service, and manufacturing. In smaller organizations, they are often referred to as departments. Some projects are undertaken for and by one functional group such as re-engineering the workflow of the purchasing department. A functional manager is accountable for defining requirements, scheduling work, setting project priorities, providing facilities, acquiring and managing all resources, adhering to company policies, committing to completion dates, coordinating conversion and implementation, and conducting post-installation or post-project reviews.

• Team members have one boss.
• Functional managers see the entire project as theirs, rather than only a small number of products, or deliverables.

• The experience of many team members is limited to one department or function.
• Project work competes with the department’s routine responsibilities and may be seen as a second priority.

Cross-functional Matrix
On a small project such as redesigning and equipping the training room for PC training, team members from training, facilities engineering, and IT department’s report to different department managers but share the same project goal. In the matrix system, team members’ report to their department or function manager for assignments, technical guidance, and other administrative matters. They are responsible to the project manager for refining tasks and assignments, planning and budgets, meeting deadlines, project-related meetings, and for being accessible to project ream members. Team members have to serve at least two bosses.

The Advantages
• In most cases, it is the least costly form of organization for a major project or program.
• Highly skilled specialists from several functions are used.

The Disadvantages
• Team members typically have two or more bosses, sometimes with conflicting demands.
• Functional managers may be reluctant to share their top performers.

The centralized structure is a pyramid that places the centralized project group on the same level as other line functions. In other words, a project organization can sometimes be a separate department in the company or a separate department or unit within a department, such as engineering. Team members report up through a hierarchy-junior to intermediate to senior to leader to manager, and so forth-to a single person who is responsible for the total departmental effort. The key to the centralized alternative is that one person oversees planning, controlling, managing, and progress reporting for all project work.

The Advantages
• Standards for project plans and processes exist throughout the project life cycle.
• Team members are treated as insiders.

The Disadvantages
• An abundance of red tape.
• A skunk works culture-in which normal procedures and bureaucracies are eschewed-may encourage project team members to take unreasonable risks.

Task Force
In the task force alternative, project personnel are recruited from various areas of the company. Although they are sometimes committed on a full-time basis, task forces are expected to be of limited duration and have specific completion dates. Upon completing the project, the group disbands and members return to their respective organizational units or go on to new challenges. When the task force is a full-time assignment, the project manager or task force leader has complete responsibility, accountability, and authority for scheduling, management, costs, and completion of the project. This leader may be someone selected from functional or project organizations.

The Advantages
• The team can often be assembled very rapidly.
• The team can react very quickly to changing project conditions and to possible shifts in direction or priorities, particularly when the members are assigned on a full-time basis.

The Disadvantages
• Functional organizations may resent a special group encroaching on their territories.
• Duplication of effort with the functional organization is likely.

Hybrid Organizations
Other forms of project organization exist and two or more types can be combined. Process oriented organizations are those that have reorganized their organizations to reflect the workflow or process necessary to support customers efficiently. In organizations that have undergone process re-engineering, vertical functions are de-emphasized. When an organization’s processes are re-engineered, a project manager is usually assigned responsibility for the entire effort. To increase commitment to the effort, team members are often chosen with the intention of having them populate the newly re-engineered, process-oriented organization. The organization whose processes are to be re-engineered normally starts with a blank slate and asks the question: How does the customer benefit from everything we do?

Related Articles:  Set Your Project Up … Right!  and  Project Estimating … time and costs!

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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Posted in Professional Skills, Project Management

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