Advantages of different org structures on marketing project management

Jason Olson Jan 23 2018

Marketing Project Management and organization structures

When you’re structuring how you deliver services to clients, whether they’re internal or external, it’s important to think through how that foundational planning work will impact the actual marketing project management process. When you’re white-boarding business structure and working from phrases like “exceeding the client promise” (something we try to live by at Portent) it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the rush of breaking down silos and visualizing all those ecstatic stakeholders.

But what of the marketing project management process itself, and the role of the project manager? My goal here is twofold (with a bonus):

  1. To get you thinking about how your current (or soon-to-be-shiny-and-new) org structure should impact the role and process of project management for maximum effectiveness.
  2. To help you consider whether a change in organizational structure would better fit the talent and process you have in place today.
  3. (Bonus!): To help project managers in & outside of marketing better understand their current organization and how that affects their role, approach, and potential impact.

Moving right along. And please excuse the bullets, you may have already guessed but there’s a little project-manager history and a lingering affinity for organizing all the things that go into this post.

The type of organization you work within generally impacts management of your projects in four key ways:

  1. Project manager’s role: May range from part-time to full-time
  2. Project manager’s authority: May range from little or none to almost total
  3. Who controls the project budget: May be either the functional (or resource) manager, project manager, or a combination of the two
  4. Resource availability for the project: May range from little or no control to almost total

General categories of organizational structures include:

  1. Functional
  2. Projectized
  3. Matrix (Weak, Balanced, and Strong)

Types of Organizations Defined

Functional Organizations

: In a functional organization, each employee works for a Functional Manager. Each function normally represents a distinct functional team, i.e., sales, marketing, product support, etc. A functional organization could look something like this:

Functional Organization Model

Diagram of a Functional Organizational Model for Marketing Project Management

Note that the project management teams are staff members that fall under the direct control of various Functional Managers.

The project manager is normally part-time in this model. Resources are scattered, and project manager’s authority is limited. In this model, the budget is controlled by the Functional Manager. Successful project management in this organizational structure is challenging in that the locus of control is largely outside of the PM’s hands.

Projectized Organizations

In a projectized organization, project managers work directly with the CEO or senior management lead. A projectized organization could look something like this:

Projectized Organization Model

Projectized organizational structure for marketing project management

Note that the project team are staff members that fall under the direct control of a project manager.

The project manager is normally full-time in this model. Resources fall functionally under the Project Manager, and their authority is high. In this model, the budget is also controlled by the Project Manager. Successful project management in this organizational structure is the least challenging relative to the other models.

Matrix Organization Models

A matrix organization is a blend of the functional and projectized models. There are three distinct matrix types illustrated in the following three models (Weak, Balanced, and Strong).

Weak Matrix Organization Model

Diagram of Weak Matrix Organization Model - Marketing Project Management

Note that this is similar to the functional model. In the weak matrix, the project manager is a part-time position that functions more in the role of a coordinator or expediter than that of a manager.

Balanced Matrix Organization Model

Diagram of a Balanced Matrix Organizational Model for marketing project management

Note that in the balanced matrix, the organization recognizes the need for a project manager but does not provide them full authority over resources.

The project manager is normally full-time in this model. Resources are scattered, and the project manager’s authority is limited. In this model, the Project Manager has some, but not complete, control over the project budget. Successful project management in this organizational structure is moderately challenging compared to the other models.

Strong Matrix Organization Model

Diagram of a Strong Matrix Organizational Model for marketing project management

Note that in the strong matrix, the organization recognizes the need for a project manager and employs them full-time. They have considerable control over resources.

The budget is controlled by the project manager in this model. Successful project management in this organizational structure is the least challenging among the matrix model types.

For easier reference, here’s a table that quickly summarizes the organizational structure impact on project management.

Table comparing org structure and project management structure for marketing project management

Summary

As you excitedly consider how to structure the work teams in your organization to deliver amazing project results to your clients or other stakeholders, it’s important to carefully consider how that structure will impact ongoing management of these projects. Project management level of authority, resource availability, control of the budget, and time available for administration of the project are all affected by org structure.

An obvious disclaimer: As much as I hope this is helpful as you consider how to structure your internal marketing team, or client project teams, it’s woefully inadequate as a “master-plan” for structuring all work teams, let alone a whole organization or an agency. You have to consider current skillsets, as well as where domain, market, and product knowledge are strongest within your own business to ensure that smooth project management sailing is balanced with strong, balanced, and effective teams.

6 Comments

  1. Great stuff, this article is conveying a lot of stuff. the info graphics are defining your article and your thoughts very good.

    • The Portent Team

      The Portent Team

      Thank you for reading Rishabh, I hope the content is helpful.

  2. Brilliant post! Thanks Jason for sharing your great marketing insights.

    • The Portent Team

      The Portent Team

      Thank you for reading Chris, I appreciate the comment.

  3. Melpomeni Arianas

    Melpomeni Arianas

    Hi Jason!

    I agree how you deliver to your clients is vital because it will greatly impact the marketing project management process. Management controls and impacts the role and authority of these projects, but how did they gain this responsibility? I find it interesting that many of these tasks aren’t passed on to employers.

    Thank you for presenting the functional organization model. I had never heard of it before. From what I see from the diagram, am I correct in assuming that in this type of model all staff is controlled under managers? Do/can staff members report straight to managers or to their CEO if they prefer to?

    Out of all the models presented which one would you recommend the most? The weak matrix organizational model struck me as being the most unique and interesting since there is more of an interaction between all of the staff members.

    When I first started my MBA program I was considering a career in project management and so these models were of great interest to me.

    Thank you!

    • The Portent Team

      The Portent Team

      Thank you for reading and commenting Melpomeni, I appreciate it. In the functional organization model, staff report directly to their functional managers. Then those managers would report to the CEO, or to the next layer of leadership (depending on the levels of leadership hierarchy).

      The best model depends on the organization and its needs. Coming from a project management background I would prefer the projected organizational model, but that isn’t necessarily the best model in all situations. I would say the strong matrix organizational model is the best model which has the widest application across businesses.

Comments are closed.