Project organization

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Project organization includes - derived from the basic term " organization " - the structure, design, rules and tools for the (systematic) implementation of projects . In contrast to a staff organization or a line organization , a project organization applies to the duration of the project and not to a permanent organizational unit as part of a company .

Projects have certain characteristics that can be used to check whether the term “project” is justified in each individual case. A project is only present if it has the following properties:

  • uniqueness
  • Defined goal or target
  • Temporal, financial and personnel framework
  • Differentiation from other projects
  • Project-specific organization
  • Minimum level of complexity

Because of these project characteristics, there is a higher risk with projects than with routine cases. The implementation of projects therefore requires its own project organization and the use of project management methods . Only by organizing a project can it be guaranteed that

  • the complexity is structured and thus reduced
  • the scope is structured and thus overlooked and manageable
  • the different subject areas are well coordinated
  • temporal finiteness is also achieved.

All forms of organization that are suitable for handling complex, singular tasks with specific performance, deadline and cost targets are summarized under project organization. According to DIN 69 901, the term project organization denotes the entirety of the structural and procedural organization regulations for handling a specific project.

In principle, several tasks have to be worked out in the project organization:

  • Project design: This includes the design of the project process, the integration of the project in the organizational structure or project structure organization and the position of the project manager and project group.
  • Project planning: It includes tasks such as planning personnel, dates, material resources, costs, etc. of the project.
  • Project specifications: The project group and all other participants are to be given all essential project-relevant requirements, such as the project order and its changes.

Reasons for the development of the project organization

Nowadays, one company organization is often no longer sufficient for companies; they also have to fall back on a secondary organization. It has been shown that the “traditional” forms of organization in the primary organization are not sufficient to cope with project tasks, the number and importance of which have grown significantly. The classic line organization hinders the direct cooperation of specialists and can cause delays in project progress. The multiline organization promotes specialization, but creates problems with the allocation of responsibilities. The combination of people from different departments and levels in the collegial organization already creates good conditions, but does not solve the problem of sufficient project resources and clear project responsibility in a satisfactory manner.

In order for project management to be successful, the project organization must be optimally embedded in the existing primary company organization. Projects require an efficient communication structure and enable the necessary integration of different company areas. The forms of project organization must therefore be partially or completely removed from the company's existing line organization.

People in the project organization

Establishing the decision-making and communication channels is part of the project organization. Various project bodies are being installed. This can be a pure information body or a steering and decision-making body that has a direct impact on the project. It has proven useful to roughly subdivide the project organization into three areas of responsibility and duties. This is the project management , who is responsible for the entire operational management of the project, the project team , which takes on the actual project work, and the steering committee , which, as the highest body, makes final decisions, for example determining the project's success or canceling the project, or within the framework an escalation is called. In complex projects, these committees are of course broken down into sub-units, but the general structure is usually similar. The definition and coordination of those involved in the project is part of the task in the sub-area of integration management of project management.

Project management

The organizational unit of the project management is responsible for the operational planning and control of the project. The skills of the project manager can, however, be very different; they range from the mere passing on of instructions and the collection of feedback (project secretariat) to full responsibility for costs, personnel and results. In addition to project management by one person, there are also project managers who, as a committee, decide by a majority or unanimously.

The tasks of the project management include in particular planning , control , deadline monitoring , cost control and handover to the client.

Complex projects are broken down into sub-projects, which in turn have a project manager. Project companies are also often set up with the sole task of carrying out a project. Their managing director is then the overall project manager. Simple projects, on the other hand, are managed by a project manager without additional staff.

In summary, one can say that a project manager is responsible for achieving the specified project goals. He must manage the project in such a way that the specified performance is achieved and the planned deadlines and costs are adhered to.

Project team

The right composition of the project team is important for the success of the project. Project members are connected with different tasks and areas of responsibility in a partnership atmosphere for goal-oriented work. When forming a project group, different influencing factors, such as the different specialist competencies of the members or the ability of the members to work together, must be taken into account.

Steering Committee

The steering committee (also: steering group) is usually made up of members of the decision-making levels of the client and contractor. For example, in a public project, the steering committee can consist of the minister, the responsible state secretary, the department head responsible for the project, the responsible member of the contractor's board, the technical director and the project manager. In smaller projects in industry, the client's managing director and a high-ranking sales representative (regional manager, key account manager) of the contractor are usually found here. The task of the steering committee is to make legally binding agreements, if necessary, such as setting new dates, correcting costs and resolving problems that are not resolved at the implementation level. This usually happens as part of an escalation .

Forms of project organization

There are five forms of project organization. These basic forms can be varied or combined to form mixed forms. For project-organized companies, the following three forms of organization are useful: pure project organization, influence project organization and matrix project organization. The choice of the right form depends on the project and the associated framework conditions. It depends on the corporate culture . The management system and the project organization must fit together. Furthermore, it is necessary to assess the characteristics of the individual project features and the project environment.

Line project organization

In line project organization , also called project management in line, no independent project organization is set up. In line project management, the usual tasks of a department are organized in the form of a project. A project manager is named and a time and cost plan for the project is established. This form of organization is ideal for small projects for which all the necessary employees are already available in the existing organizational unit.

Influence project organization

In the influence project organization, the project manager has no authority to issue instructions or make decisions to the specialist departments. The project manager consults with the specialist departments and mediates between individual departments. It collects data on the costs, deadlines and progress of the project. He forwards this information to a higher-level management unit . These are usually the heads of a company, a division or a plant. Even if the project manager has no direct influence on the individual departments, he still has a great influence on the project due to his proximity to the company management.

Matrix project organization

Matrix organization

The matrix organization is created by superimposing two instruction lines. In this form, an employee has two superiors. He is not only subordinate to the department head, but also to the head of the project at his level (see Fig.). Both instances are equivalent.

Pure project organization or autonomous project organization (task force)

The pure project organization is particularly suitable for extensive projects with high strategic importance for the company. It is also called autonomous project organization, as it is characterized by a high degree of autonomy from the primary organization. It differs from the project company only in that it is not legally independent. All those involved in the project are outsourced from various company departments and assigned to their own project area for the duration of the project. With this form of project organization, the project manager has sole responsibility and the entire authority to issue instructions and decisions.

Project company

The organizational form of the project company provides for the organizational and legal independence of the project organization from the basic organization.

Cross-company project organizations

In the case of very large projects, several companies can be involved in one project. As part of a cross-company project organization, clear contractual relationships must be established between the individual companies. Typical is a constellation with legally and economically independent companies from various industries and a public client.

Individual order organization

The client retains responsibility for the overall project and assigns clearly defined sub-projects to the other companies.

Consortium organization

The companies form a consortium to which overall responsibility is transferred, e.g. B. a working group.

General contractor organization

As a general contractor, a company assumes all responsibility and places orders with subcontractors.


  • Beck, Thomas: The project organization and its design. 1st edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-428-08603-1 .
  • Burghardt, Manfred: Project management, guidelines for planning, monitoring and controlling projects. Erlangen: Publicis 2012, ISBN 978-3-89578-399-9 .
  • Frese, Erich; Organization's concise dictionary. 3. Edition. Verlag Poeschl, Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-7910-8027-X .
  • Kerzner, Harold: Project Management, A Systems Approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. 7th edition. Wiley, Hoboken, NJ 2001, ISBN 0-471-39554-4 .
  • Kerzner, Harold: Project Management, A System-Oriented Approach to Planning and Control. mitp, Bonn 2008, ISBN 978-3-8266-0983-1 .
  • Kerzner, Harold: project management, case studies. mitp, Bonn 2004, ISBN 3-8266-1447-X .
  • Deleteberger, Schneider, Schwab-Matkovits, Schwab, Hofer: Business internship. 4th edition. Manz Verlag, Vienna 2004, ISBN 3-7068-1883-3 .
  • Olfert, Klaus: Compact training project management. 7th edition. Kiehl-Verlag, Herne 2010, ISBN 978-3-470-48597-3 .
  • Patzak, Gerold and Rattay, Günter: Project management, guidelines for managing projects, project portfolios and project-oriented companies. 5th edition. Linde Verlag, Vienna 2009, ISBN 978-3-7143-0149-6 .
  • Steinbuch, Pitter: project organization and project management. 2nd Edition. Kiehl-Verlag, Ludwigshafen / Rhein 2000, ISBN 3-470-48592-5 .

Individual evidence

  1. Steinbuch, 2000, pp. 25ff.
  2. ^ Burghardt, 2012, p. 102.
  3. Steinbuch, 2000, p. 26ff.
  4. ^ Burghardt, 2012, p. 102.
  5. Frese, 1992, p. 2104.
  6. ^ Burghardt, 2012, p. 102.
  7. ^ Burghardt, 2012, p. 110.
  8. Beck, 1996, pp. 82-83.
  9. Beck, 1996, pp. 85-86.
  10. ^ Burghardt, 2012, p. 107.
  11. ^ Burghardt, 2012, p. 110.