Project Team Organization in Product Innovation as a Success Factor: Perspective of the Practitioner

PMI Switzerland Chapter

Dr.-Ing. Frédéric Robin is a global, end-to-end project manager in product innovation at GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. He holds a doctoral degree in chemical engineering from the Technical University of Karlsruhe. He is a Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification holder, and volunteers as brand ambassador in the PMI Switzerland Chapter. He has over 10 years of expertise in management of large, cross-functional and cross-geography innovation projects in the healthcare and food/nutrition industries. He also has sound knowledge in material science and technology with over 20 scientific communications in this field.

The success of a project strongly relies on the intrinsic functional and leadership skills of team members, but also on team factors such as communication and cooperation. Although extensive literature has been published on project teams, the influence of the project team organization on its performance has hardly been reported.

Based on the perspective of the practitioner and available literature, this work reviews the most common project team organization models in innovation projects (i.e., extended team, stage-specific, core team, and interface models). For each, the advantages, pitfalls which may put the project team performance at risk, and roles and responsibilities and associated skills of team members are discussed. Building on the existing literature, the author hypothesizes project team organization as a success factor.

Although no perfect model exists, this paper highlights the criticality for senior leaders to design the most appropriate team organization and provides some thoughts on how to tackle potential pitfalls. 

1. Introduction
Nowadays, both large multinationals and small companies are being organized by projects. The unpredictable and rapidly changing environment over the last decades further increased the need for using project management as the primary process for producing products and services, and made it critical for project…

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