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Understanding the Project Management Hierarchy

written by: Misty Faucheux • edited by: Ronda Bowen • updated: 10/15/2010

When you think of the project management hierarchy, you may just be thinking of project managers to team members. But, you'd be wrong. There's more to a project management hierarchy than simply management to team members. Learn more here!

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    Team Member Needs

    When people refer to hierarchy, they generally think of management or team hierarchy as in who reports to whom. But, there’s more to project management hierarchy than this. Besides who plays what role, you also need to look at the needs of your team and the hierarchy of your project requirements.

    Your team is not comprised of robots; these are real people with real needs. Each project team member will have different needs, and team needs will vary based on the person. Even experienced team members will have needs that you must fulfill.

    Basic human needs involve water, food and shelter. Project management team member needs will generally involve understanding the given commands and feeling appreciated by their superiors. Understanding their role in the project will be the foundation on which the rest is built. If your team member does not feel a part of the team, then they won’t perform to their fullest.

    The next step is to ensure that your team member fully understands to what they should be doing. This will breed in them a sense of accomplishment. Finally, you need to reward team members for good behavior.

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    Project Management Hierarchy

    The next set of the project management hierarchy is the hierarchy of skills. This is generally geared towards project managers who have to support their team members. This entire structure is built upon leadership. Project management leadership is the base from which everything else is built. If you don’t have a good leader, then you won’t have a good team.

    One step up from leadership is management. A project manager must be able to communicate effectively with his team and get the team to work together. This often involves motivating them and meeting the basic team need for reward.

    From there, the project manager leader needs to master the basic project management skills with the ultimate goal of being an effective and mature project manager.

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    Project Schedule

    The final part of the project management hierarchy involves the project schedule hierarchy. This involves laying out the objectives of your project, which is the base of your project. You must know for what you are working before you can start working on it.

    Work Breakdown Structure Next, you need to identify the underlying assumptions about the project, which will help you come up with the results that you want to achieve. These results should be measurable, and you need to clearly identify these so you know for what you are working.

    Finally, you can use these foundational points to create the top part of this pyramid: the work breakdown structure. This will help your team figure out what actually needs to be done and when it needs to be done by. The work breakdown structure will also create a hierarchy of tasks to be completed, further narrowing down your focus on what are the most important steps to your project.

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