Project managers do not work in isolation from their surrounding environment as their role, authority and control levels are impacted by a number of organizational environmental factors as culture, processes and Organizational structure. In order for a project managers to succeed in his/her role, he must understand what kind of organization structure he operates in. The main types of organizational structures are:
- Functional: this is the traditional organization that is classified into functions as operations, sales, procurement, human resources and finance. The project managers work in one of these functions and is reporting to the functional head. He and his team work as part-time in the project in addition to their daily activities.
- Matrix (Weak, balanced and strong): in this structure, project managers role varies from part-time with limited authority, to full-time and high authority. In some cases, he might face the dilemma of reporting to two bosses (functional and project management office). This is the most common structure, where project management importance is recognized and the project manager and team are given some authority and control over resources.
- Projected Organizations: these are organizations that mainly operates on a project basis as consulting, construction, and IT solutions. The project manager and his team work full-time on the project has full control over his project and have access to support functions as finance, procurement, and HR.
The below table summarizes the project manager’s role and authority in the various organizational structures:
Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013, Table 2-1, Page 22.
While it seems obvious that in some organizational structures as functional and weak matrix, the project manager’s role and authority is diminished, he can still improve the situation and leverage his role and impact on the project outcomes through the following:
- Detailed documentation of the requirements, constraints, and authority levels required in the project charter.
- Developing a RAM (or Responsibility Assignment Matrix) and approve it to create accountability and commitment.
- Have an engaged Sponsor, and help him with a sponsor road map to ensure timely intervention when needed.
- Identify, engage, and manage all relevant stakeholders.
- Perform Integrated planning to ensure accurate estimates of duration, costs, resources needed, and to develop an achievable project plan.
- Manage Risks and budget for contingencies.
- Develop a governance framework that ensures proper monitoring of project progress, and defines escalation paths for any uncompleted work.
A successful project managers should always analyze what type of organization structure he operates in and plan accordingly to acquire the needed authority and control over project resources (material, equipment, human resources, and financial) and engage the right stakeholders. By doing so, he ensures meeting the project objectives and achieving success.
Eng. Ahmed Hussein
MBA, PfMP, PMP