What is Project Management Organizational Structure?

The project management structure is an enterprise environmental factor that determines how the organization and project manager should perform. Essential to this is the project organizational structure, the underlying framework that governs how projects are carried out within a company. The heart of efficient project management lies in the way an organization structures its project teams, and the project teams are structured using one of three ways: Functional, Projectized, or Matrix. These project management organizational structures come with varying levels of agility, control, and communication.

Types of Project Management Structure:

The project manager and team members rely on a clear project management structure to understand roles, responsibilities, and reporting lines. These project organizational structures can dictate the speed at which decisions are made, the synergy between cross-functional teams, and ultimately, the project’s success. Organizations must be deliberate in their selection of a project management structure that aligns with their goals and team dynamics.

1. Functional Organizational Structure:

A functional project management structure is a hierarchical type, wherein people are grouped as per their area of specialization and supervised by the functional manager with expertise in the same field so that their skills can be effectively utilized and the organization’s objective can be achieved. Here are the key features of Functional Organizational Structure:

  • All authority, budget allocation, and decision-making power stay with the functional manager.
  • A project manager has no role in this type of project organizational structure.
  • Even if a project manager exists, the role will be very limited and he has to ask the functional manager for his requirements.
  • A project manager may have the title of a coordinator or an expediter.

The Functional project management structure is suitable for an organization, which has ongoing operations such as manufacturing and production operations.


Following are a few advantages of functional organizations:

  • Employees are grouped according to their knowledge and skills.
  • Job responsibilities and reporting are straight to the functional head, and the hierarchy path is clear.
  • Employees have a clear career growth path.
  • Within the functional department communication, cooperation and coordination are excellent.


The following are a few disadvantages of functional organizations:

  • The employee may become lazy due to repeating the same type of work.
  • Conflicts may arise due to the promotion of another employee.
  • The functional manager pays attention to only his department; he usually doesn’t care for other teams or sections.
  • Poor communications and poor inter-department coordination.
  • Delays in decision-making due to bureaucratic hierarchy.


Functional project organizational structures are well-suited for manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and utilities — industries where adherence to regulations and quality standards is paramount and often trumps the need for rapid change.

project organizational structure

“In the functional project organizational structure, the organization is divided into various specific departments; e.g. human resource, marketing, finance, operations, etc. Each department will have its own department head and he will be responsible for the performance of his section. This helps control the quality and uniformity of performance”.

Key Note!

project management structure

2. Projectized Organizational Structure:

Projectized organizations are nearly the opposite of functional organizations. The focus of this type of organization is the project itself. The idea behind a projectized organization is to develop loyalty to the project, not to a functional manager.


A few advantages of projectized project management organizational structure are as follows:

  • A clear line of authority.
  • Strong communication with a single reporting system.
  • Flexibility in trade-offs and decision-making.
  • Fast decision-making.


A few disadvantages of projectized project organizational structure are as follows:

  • Authority and power can make project managers arrogant.
  • The work environment can be stressful because there is always a deadline (milestones).
  • Team members have a sense of insecurity because, once the project finishes, they may lose their jobs.
  • If the project gets elongated, the cost of employees and equipment can go higher.


Industries dependent on fast-paced innovation and product development, such as software development, advertising, and aerospace, often benefit from a projectized project management structure.

“In projectized organization, the project manager has all the power and authority and everybody directly report to the project manager. Here, either no functional manager exists, or if he exists, he will have a very limited role.”.

Key Note!

project management organizational structure

3. Matrix Organizational Structure:

Matrix organizations came about to minimize the differences between, and take advantage of, the strengths and weaknesses of functional and projectized organizations. The idea at play here is that the best of both project organizational structures can be realized by combining them into one.

  • The project management objectives are fulfilled and good project management techniques are utilized while still maintaining a hierarchical structure in the organization.
  • In matrix project organization structures, the knowledge and skills of talented employees could be shared between the functional departments and the project management teams, as needed.


  • Enhanced communication across functional areas.
  • Better resource utilization, as skills can be shared across projects.
  • Adaptability to shifting priorities within a project.


  • Confusion over role responsibilities and reporting lines.
  • Potential for conflict between project and functional managers.
  • A high level of bureaucracy can stifle decision-making.


Industries with a mix of routine operations and project work, such as construction, consulting, and research and development, often make effective use of a matrix project management structure.

IV. Types of Matrix Organizations:

Matrix organizations are categorized primarily into three types, each reflecting a different level of authority and influence between the project manager and functional managers. These are the Strong Matrix, Balanced Matrix, and Weak Matrix categories.

  • Strong Matrix: A matrix where the balance of power leans more towards the project manager. In this arrangement, project managers have greater authority to manage resources and make decisions, allowing project-centric policies to predominate.
  • Balanced Matrix: This type represents a middle ground, where power is equally distributed between functional managers and project managers. Collaboration and compromise are key in this setup, as it requires a balance of interests to navigate the shared authority.
  • Weak Matrix: In a weak matrix project management structure, functional managers hold more power and influence over projects. Here, the project manager role is more akin to that of a coordinator or expedited, with limited authority to dictate the use of resources or make autonomous decisions.

“In matrix structures, usually employees have two bosses to whom they may have to report. The authority of the functional manager flows vertically downwards and the authority of the project manager flows sideways. Since, the authorities flow downward and sideways, this project management structure is called the Matrix Organization Structure. Which boss is more powerful depends upon the type of matrix structure.”

Key Note!

How to Choose the Right Project Organizational Structure?

Selecting a suitable project management structure for your organization is a nuanced process that requires consideration of several factors. It’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario, and what works for one company may not work for another. To guide you in your decision-making process, let’s delve into the various considerations that should influence your choice of organizational structure.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Project Management Structure

  • Project Complexity: Determine the level of project complexity and the need for cross-functional expertise.
  • Team Member Specialization: Evaluate the degree of skill specialization required for project success.
  • Resource Availability: Assess the availability and cost of resources, including human and material resources.
  • Organizational Culture: Recognize how the adopted project organizational structure aligns with the existing culture and whether it could support or hinder cultural objectives.
  • Project Duration: The expected duration of the project can impact the suitability of different structures.
  • Stakeholder Expectations: Understand the expectations of key stakeholders and how the chosen project management structure can meet those expectations.

How Does a Company’s Organizational Structure Impact Project Management?

The organizational structure of a company can significantly impact project management due to the varying degrees of autonomy, influence, and resource accessibility that differ with each organizational type.


  • A company with a Strong Matrix structure, for instance, may see projects executed with greater swiftness and flexibility, as project managers have the authority to make decisions without the need for extensive consultations.
  • Organizations with a Weak Matrix structure may experience delays or conflicts caused by the overriding interests of functional departments, which could impede project progress.

The chosen project management structure ultimately dictates the flow of communication, the expediency of decision-making, and the overall efficiency of project execution, making it critical for organizations to deliberate on their structural choice to align with their project management goals.


In conclusion, selecting an effective project management structure is pivotal to the success of any initiative. While the factors discussed are crucial in shaping your decision, the role of solid project management qualifications cannot be overstated. These qualifications, often earned through rigorous programs such as an MBA in Project Management via distance education, provide a deep well of knowledge and a robust skill set that can significantly improve the odds of project success. Engaging in comprehensive online project management courses can also enhance one’s ability to adapt to varied project organizational structures and meet the dynamic needs of projects.

Ultimately, the synergy between a suitable project management structure and a well-equipped project manager—with formal education and training—has the potential to drive projects to fruition while meeting or exceeding stakeholder expectations. Whether you’re considering restructuring or launching a new project, the knowledge and insight from this guide will serve as a valuable compass. Embracing the right project management structure isn’t just about organizing work; it’s about creating an environment that nurtures growth, innovation, and ultimately, success.