Often we have a feeling that a project is in trouble because of structure but maybe we could not put our finger on the problem. I have some things I look for on projects.
The first is clear sponsoring executive who has responsibility for scope, schedule and budget. In many IT projects the scope and schedule are the responsibility of a line executive and the budget rest with the IT organization. The result can be a disaster. I have seen project with this structure go on and on and on.
The second clear requirement is clear responsibility for delivery and acceptance. We may have large teams of people on the project but a single person on delivery and acceptance must carry the can.
Another diagnostic technique is to ask "Who Cares?" If the answer to this question is vague, then warning bells should ring.
The driver of the schedule is another key clue. If the schedule is arbitrary or artificial, we must be very careful. If dates are determined by external factors, the project has a much greater chance of coming in on schedule.
A clear definition of the results that are to be achieved by the project is another key ingredient. Vague statements, like improved performance, are impossible goals. In principle, the purpose of the project could be improved performance but the acceptance criteria must be more precisely defined. Subjective criteria can be a real problem.
Complex projects with complex organizational dynamics create chaos. A real effort must be made by the people who care to clarify the complexity and make things simple. The simple structure produces clear accountability and successful projects. Clear sponsorship, clear delivery and acceptance responsibility, and people who really care are some of the key ingredients.