Why Team Structure Matters in Project Management

Paul Naybour

You might think that how you structure your team doesn’t really matter too much, after all if you have the right people with the right skills and a clear plan for the project that should be enough, shouldn’t it? Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple and a well-structured team can provide many advantages.

With a well-structured team you can stimulate the creativity of your team, encourage them to engage with each other, create better intra- and inter-team relationships and of course boost productivity and spark further innovation.


Organisational structures

There are several different ways in which you can structure your team, and these depend on the type of project and what the team will be doing. Team structures can be:

  • Product-based
  • Function-based
  • Process-based
  • Market-based

Where there are geographically dispersed teams the structure may also be based on location.


Team members

A good team is made up of a variety of different types of team members with a clear chain of command. Within the team there may be several different team members who will work on the same aspects of the project, depending on the complexity of the project. Whilst each “mini” team will be working on their own part of the project it is vital that groups are able to, and do, communicate directly with each other. A lack of communication within your team structure can lead to real issues if there is a likelihood of deadlines over-running or if problems occur that affect the work that other team members are doing.


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Chain of command

We have already mentioned chain of command, but it is such an important element of creating a great team structure that it is worth mentioning again. Every team member needs to know exactly who to go to with any problems that they encounter during a project, whether this is someone working on another element of the project or the project manager themselves.

Having a clear structure to your team will save you, as the project manager, time and of course avoid poor or lack of communication that can all too easily occur and derail a project. Without a clear structure and clear chain of command time and effort will be wasted when there are issues to be sorted out, which there invariably will be on any project with any measure of complexity.

Whether you are a project manager with many years of experience or have recently completed a project management apprenticeship, how you structure your team is one of the most effective tools at your disposal when it comes to the management of your project and its people. You need to ensure that your team is comprised of people who have the right skills and experience for the job, but they also need to be able to work effectively together and a good team structure will allow them to do just that.

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