Advantages of different org structures on marketing project management
Jason Olson Jan 23 2018
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):
- 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.
- To help you consider whether a change in organizational structure would better fit the talent and process you have in place today.
- (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:
- Project manager’s role: May range from part-time to full-time
- Project manager’s authority: May range from little or none to almost total
- Who controls the project budget: May be either the functional (or resource) manager, project manager, or a combination of the two
- Resource availability for the project: May range from little or no control to almost total
General categories of organizational structures include:
- Matrix (Weak, Balanced, and Strong)
Types of Organizations Defined
: 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Jason Olson served as Portent's Operations Director, and is now a proud Portent alum. Read More