Blog Project Management Difference between a Project Manager And A Line Manager

Difference between a Project Manager And A Line Manager

In most of the companies there are multiple functions or departments, even in IT industry, the technical department is further segregated into Applications, Support, Infrastructure, software division, hardware/network division and so on. Every project involves both internal and external stakeholders. In case of internal project, it impacts and affects one or more functions directly. A Project Manager is the manager assigned to manage a single project whereas the Line Manager manages the work taken up by a line of projects. A Project manager may or may not be the line manager. This entirely depends on the organization’s structure and its type. Generally projects in organizations are aligned based on the line of business, so, they have a Line Manager who manages all those projects.

The Line manager interacts with the Project Managers who manage the projects that fall in their Line of Business (LOB). A line manager, also called the reporting manager, is a person responsible for administrative part of the resources.
As per PMBOK the organization structure can be of 3 types.

• Functional
• Projectized
• Matrix

Functional Organization

Functional organizations are domain centric, like human resources department, finance department, marketing department, and so on. The work in these departments is specialized and requires people with a specific skill set and experiences in these specialized areas to perform specific duties for that function. In this type of organization

• Project Manager has very little role or no authority
• Line Manager or functional manager has full management role and authority
In Functional organizations the projects are typically undertaken in a divided approach. For example, the marketing department will work on its portion of the project and then hand it off to the development team or any other department to complete its part, and so on.

Projectized Organization

In projectized organization the resources are dedicated to projects and reports only to the project manager. Project managers has the complete authority over the project and project team. They are fully authorized to take decisions regarding the project and acquiring and assigning resources. They are entitled to select and allocate resources from other areas in the organization or to hire them from outside if required.

Matrix Organization

In a matrix management structure, the project manager assign project tasks to the team members, irrespective of their Line of Business or the department they belong to. The people who run those departments and manage the team and team members in them, are the line managers. In this type of structure, team members or resources report to one functional manager and to at least one project manager. Resources can report to multiple project managers if they are working on multiple projects at one time. Functional manager is primarily responsible for the administrative part and allocate resources to projects and project manager is responsible for the end to end execution part of the project. Both the managers share the responsibility of performance reviews for the employees reporting to them. In case of resource requirement, the project manager need to negotiate with the line managers of the respective functions.

It is important for both the line manager and the project manager to understand their boundaries very clearly to avoid any resource related conflicts, in accordance with the organizational structure. In a real world, their tuning is essential to work together to manage projects, people, customers, and vendors. If the interface between them is not clearly defined, the probability of conflict is very high resulting in unnecessary arguments and delays in work.


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