How do you successfully carry out multiple projects

Project organization - function and roles in the project

A project is a temporary company and therefore needs its own project organization in which the structures, hierarchies and communication channels in the project are regulated. The boundaries between project and line must be clearly defined in order to be able to act efficiently both in the line and in the project.

The number of projects and the number of employees involved in projects is constantly growing. The scarcity of resources is a well-known companion of project work, since in addition to the projects there is also line work to be carried out. It is all the more important to clearly define the boundaries between the line and the project. The establishment of a project organization ensures the greatest possible transparency.

The challenge of establishing a project organization

In the rarest of cases, companies hire additional staff to handle the project. Project employees receive a Additional task to your line work in everyday work. Often it is unclear to both their superiors and the employees themselves how much time they should spend on which activities.

Competence confusion through project work

With this Double task in most cases there is also a double boss. In addition to Line supervisor suddenly there is also the project Manager Arrangements - which are seldom agreed, often contradict each other and overload the employee. In some cases, this can lead to demotivation and frustration among employees. In the worst case, burnout is the end of the line if this condition lasts too long. An unambiguous regulation is absolutely necessary here.

Communication and decision-making channels

Cross-departmental communication and decision-making paths that have to be followed on a daily basis in projects are often tedious and lengthy and significantly impair the progress of the project. The project organization must therefore be partially or completely separated from the company organization in order to clear communication, decision-making and escalation channels to accomplish.

Objective of the project organization

The temporary Project organization is basically a temporary company with their own rules, roles and communication structures. It is an indispensable tool for regulating the cooperation between the people involved in the project.

Clear functions, roles and hierarchies

A clear definition of functions and roles creates an unmistakable one Distribution of tasks and competencies and a clear one Differentiation from line organization. The hierarchies are flat but clearly regulated. Everyone knows who to report to, who can make which decisions and who is allowed to issue which “orders”. This creates Transparency for everyone involved and accelerates project processing many times over.

If an employee A from department X wants a decision by employee B from department Y, the communication does not have to go through the respective superiors as in the line organization, but can be clarified directly between employees A and B.


Objectives of the project organization

  • Creation of transparency in the project
  • Regulation of the cooperation between the people involved in the project
  • Showing the decision-making, reporting and escalation channels
  • Shortening of the communication channels
  • Clear distribution of tasks and competencies through the definition of functions and roles
  • Creation of the basis for project communication / information

Project versus line

In a project organization, employees are "withdrawn" from the line organization for the duration of the project to a certain percentage of their working time. The Project organization is leaner and flatter than line organization and thus increases the efficiency of information, communication and escalation within the project team.

Delimitation of the project tasks from the line tasks

A clear definition of roles and tasks and its demarcation from the line is indispensable. The most important point here is that the project manager has full decision-making and instruction authority and thus the opportunity to drive the project forward.

The project staff and everyone involved must learn to deal with the new project structures, which in practice often leads to considerable difficulties. Which supervisor likes to report to his actual employee just because he was suddenly given the title of “project manager”?

The project organization must be realistically livable

When personalizing the project roles, it is therefore of great advantage not to change the usual hierarchies too much in order to defuse possible discrepancies from the outset. The The strategic challenge is to construct the temporary organization in a way that is viable. By defining roles and functions in the project, every employee knows about their tasks and competencies as well as about those of their project colleagues. In this way, unnecessary discussions about rights and obligations can be averted, at least primarily.


The way to project organization

Definition of the project roles

The project organization is always created in the start phase of a project. The first step is the person-independent definition of the project roles. Which ones are necessary depends on the project. Sometimes the smallest form that only contains the basics is sufficient: project client, project manager and project team. Depending on the size of the project, project employees who act as technical experts, a steering committee to represent all organizational units involved or a project coach can be called in.

Filling of the roles in the project with people

Once the roles have been defined, they are filled with people who are ideally suited to fulfilling the tasks. The higher the project client is represented in the line organization, the better for the project, since on the one hand it receives a higher priority and on the other hand the project client can make most of the decisions himself.

The project manager ideally chooses his project team himselfIn practice, however, it is often assigned to him from the existing pool of people and competencies. The “recruitment” of the project team must be coordinated with the respective line manager.

Reporting structures and decision-making paths

Similar to the line organization, the project organization provides information on reporting structures and decision-making processes and is the basis for communication planning in the project, as it contains all relevant people. It thus provides information about who is reporting to whom and who is issuing instructions to whom.

Graphic representation of the project organization

The The project organization is best represented in graphical form. To make the distinction to the line organization clear, it is often shown in the form of a circle or ellipse. Other representations are also possible, but not widely used.

The project organization can change during the course of the projectbecause certain skills are only required for certain phases of the project. Like all project plans, the project organization must also be constantly checked for validity and, if necessary, adjusted.

It is quite possible that an employee leaves the project or the company at all. New employees may also have to be called in due to newly defined project tasks. The project organization is alive with the content of the project plan.

Example project organization


The classic project roles - tasks and competencies

Project client / project sponsor

  • Clear assignment of orders to the project manager
  • Definition of strategies, project goals and priorities with the project manager
  • Agreement of organizational framework conditions with the project manager
  • Support of the project manager as a power promoter
  • Making strategic project decisions
  • Making budget decisions
  • Strategic project controlling
  • Coordination of the project with all affected areas
  • Representation of the project interests to the outside
  • Support of the project manager with problems and crises

Steering committee / steering committee

  • Often referred to as a "review board" or something similar
  • Making cross-departmental / cross-organizational, project-specific decisions
  • Support of the project manager through his influence (power promoter)
  • Acceptance of partial and overall project results
  • The project client must be a member of the steering committee and usually has the chair

Project leader / project manager

Project team member

  • Implementation of assigned project tasks and responsibility for the results
  • Contribution of technical know-how
  • Participation in project team meetings
  • Participation in project planning
  • Participation in the project implementation
  • Collaboration in project controlling
  • Information to the project manager

Project staff

  • Contribution of technical know-how
  • Implementation of assigned project tasks
  • Information to the project team

Project organization checklist

This is how I organize my project - first steps

  • The project organization is supposed to Start of project to be created.
  • If not all project members have been defined yet, the Project organization with roles and functions only which will be named later.
  • It is best to create the project organization on flipcharts, whiteboards or similar media so as not to lose track.
  • To Differentiation from the line organization a representation in the form of a circle or ellipse is recommended.
  • At least the following must be included: project client, project manager and project team.
  • The following can be added, for example: technical experts, steering committee, sounding board, subteams, external roles, project coaches.

Definition of roles and functions in the project organization

  • For each role in the project, the Tasks, competencies and responsibilities set. Attention: These must not overlap, otherwise this leads to ambiguities in the course of the project.
  • Pay attention here Unambiguity! Once the travel speed has been reached in the project, there is usually no time to discuss unclear competencies.
  • Tip: Let an outsider check your definition to see whether he understands the same thing as you or whether he notices any inconsistencies.

Nomination of the project team

  • When nominating people, make sure that you have the Don't mess up line organization too much. A department head who has to report to an employee on a project usually leads to tension in the team, in the worst case it doesn't work at all.
  • The higher the number of the project client in the line, the higher the project is prioritized in the company and the faster decisions can be made.
  • Be careful you not too many people in your project, if in doubt, it is better to plan less. Two subject matter experts often work much more efficiently than five.
  • The ideal size for a project team (excluding steering committee, project client, etc.) is 5-10 people. If you have more employees in the team, it makes sense to form subgroups.
  • Agree that Nomination of the project staff in any case with their line manager!

Establishing the organization in the project

  • Make sure that everyone on the project is aware of their Conscious role in the project is and has understood and can live his tasks, competencies and responsibilities.
  • Take the Project organization as the basis for planning communication in the project. The result is the project communication plan. This means that the structured communication in the project team is also "synchronized".
  • Host a Kick-off meetingwhere the team can get to know each other.
  • Activities “off the project” are just at the beginning but also in between Team building and motivational measure well suited.
  • Check the project organization for theirs at regular intervals Validity and meaningfulness. New tasks may mean new project staff. These must also be integrated into the project organization.

Have you achieved the goal with the project organization?

  • The people who work on the project are known and documented.
  • Everyone Project employees know who has which project role or which project role is assigned to him.
  • Tasks, competencies and responsibilities are assigned to each project role.
  • The Communication structures are transparent - every project employee knows who they have to and should communicate to.
  • The Decision hierarchy in the project is clearly regulated.
  • Project communication takes the shortest possible route - "detours" via the line are eliminated.
  • The Hierarchy is flatter than in the line, Decision-making processes are shorter, the information flows more efficient.

Tips and tricks from practice

  • It is best to use the Project organization to work out on flipcharts, whiteboards or comparable media.
  • The representation with circles, ellipses and the like enables a Differentiation from the line organization.
  • A start-up workshop and activities “off the project” make this easier team building.
  • All employees must have their roll, i.e. be clear about the expectations placed on them (e.g. describe roles / functions at least briefly and succinctly).
  • The Intensity of the description of the roles depends on the size of the project and the project experience that those involved in the project have.

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