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Chapter 16 - Project Organisations

Part 3


To summarise the keywords of that chapter, here is a quick overview:

Technical term Definition
Resource autonomy Resource autonomy is the power over the human and material resources that are required in the project. A high level of autonomy exists if resources are specifically reserved for a project and the project manager has the authority to use them as he sees fit. It is low if other project managers or the base organisation have access to the same resources. A project is only independent if it is realised outside standard management structures and a project manager is appointed.
Functional project organisation = Unit or line project organisation
The hierarchical relationships between staff and departmental managers, central departmental managers and executive management team members in an organisation. In project management, line organisation refers to the vertical incorporation of project team members in their base organisation.
Pure project organisation = Autonomous project organisation
A form of organisation used in large-scale projects. The project manager assumes full responsibility for the project and is the disciplinary superior of the project team members. Also called pure or absolute project organisation.
Matrix organisation Form of project organisation in which all project team members continue to report to their superior in the (vertical) line organisation (e.g. departmental manager) while at the same time ensuring that project requirements are satisfied and carrying out instructions issued by the project manager (horizontal). This creates an image of a matrix.

Let's practice - transfer project

Now it's your turn!

Think about the right project organisation for the wedding of your best friend.


The only possible project organisation that suits your project is the autonomous organisation. There is no entity, company, organisation or the like in which the project is embedded, so it must be organised autonomously. Only one question still needs to be answered: What are your competences, authorities etc. as a project manager? This has to be discussed with the customer - your best friend.

Test yourself!

Now it is time to check your knowledge.

Answer the following questions for yourself. Please take your time and think carefully about what you would answer before revealing the solution.

What basic forms of project organisation exist?
  • Functional (unit/line) project organisation
  • Pure (autonomous) project organisation
  • Matrix organisation
What criteria differentiate the basic forms of project organisation?

Functional project organisation:

  • The project manager is in charge of a functional unit
  • The PM has no formal authority to issue instructions, only to coordinate
  • Does not make important project decisions
  • Collects and distributes information
  • Low resource autonomy and independence

Matrix organisation:

  • Communication-intensive
  • Authorities and responsibilities are divided between the functional units and the project
  • Employees receive instructions from at least two functional units
  • Distribution of authority:
  • Project manager "what" and "when"
  • Line manager "how" and "who"

Pure project organisation:

  • Project team members are assigned to an organisational unit
  • The base organisation does not have free disposal over resources
  • The project manager has professional and disciplinary responsibility
  • Fast response to incidents
  • High resource autonomy
  • Problems integrating staff back in the base organisation after the project
When can projects be realised within the scope of standard management structures?

As long as

  • generally, only one organisational unit implements the project,
  • there are only a few interfaces to other organisational units and no shared resources,
  • human resource requirements are relatively low and
  • other departments only provide service functions.