Building the right project structure is just as important as building the project itself. Think of the scaffolding that held Michelangelo up while he painted the Sistine Chapel: if it were poorly constructed, there would be mistakes and paint splotches all over the ceiling while he tried to balance himself! In much the same way, a project manager has to understand the way to build the “scaffolding” of a project structure to support the team doing the project work. As Brad Egeland writes in this article, it's important to first decide what kind of team you want to construct – how much self-regulation or oversight you want to have in place, for instance. He also discusses the importance of determining the “span of control”:
The project manager must determine the appropriate span of control. This means determining how many people he can effectively manage before establishing an additional layer of management like appointing team leaders. Of course this isn't necessary for small teams or short-term projects. However, on long-term projects with a large team, this can be critical. A project with a team of this size will be easier to manage with the right web-based project management software handling all of the resource leveling needs of the engagement.
Other consideration include authority and accountability for the project, how to keep the team together or break them up into dedicated work groups, and how to get all of the executive management involved in the outcome of the project on board and active. Through the careful set-up of these factors, a project manager can avoid confusion and help construct the structure a team needs to properly complete a project.