The most common theorised definitions of the project team include the functional team, the dedicated project team, the matrix team and the contract team. In practice, teams are often a mix of all of the above and more often that not are combined with the notion of a virtual team.
The Functional Team
A traditional approach where work is carried out in an organised group of employees before being passed along to the next group. An example of this would be an idea originating with the marketing team being passed to research and development before being eventually handed over to manufacturing. This is often referred to as ‘baton passing’. This structure still requires a project manager to oversee the whole process.
The Dedicated Project Team
A group of employees that all belong to the same organisation but work as a separate unit on projects, led by a project manager. Most of these teams have worked together previously on successful projects and will often stay together. With a dedicated project team, internal communication should not be an issue however communication with the wider company and stakeholders should not be neglected.
The Matrix Team
In this type of team, staff report to different managers for different areas of their work. The project manager will be responsible for their project work however their line manager will handle areas such as training as well as other ‘routine’ work related tasks. This approach has a danger of the ‘two-boss’ problem where the employee may receive different, sometimes conflicting, instructions from their manager.
The Contract Team
A contract team is normally brought in from an outside organisation to complete project work; the delivery of the project still rests with the project manager. The working relationships and communication between the contract team and the organisation are of significant importance here.
The Virtual Team
All of the above approaches require the team to interact with each other and have access to shared resources; traditionally this would be achieved by face-to-face meetings. When there are remote members of the project team, the team becomes virtual. Depending on the different time zone or location several different methods of communication have to be utilised; this is known as the Johansen (1988) time-space matrix. The figure below shows the various permutations aforementioned matrix.