Functional Manager Job Description

Functional managers oversee the operations of an entire unit of an organization, ensuring that their division’s projects are completed on time and according to budget. This role requires a balance of high-level planning and direction and hands-on guidance to ensure that team members complete critical tasks according to schedule. Functional managers tend to direct the activities of project managers and team members, providing guidance and advice through the lifecycles of several concurrent projects.

Functional managers make many decisions that determine their unit’s effectiveness and efficiency, from budgeting to staffing, and are frequently the main point of contact between project teams and stakeholders.


Functional Manager Duties and Responsibilities

Because they work in many industries, functional managers’ duties can vary. Based on postings that we analyzed, however, several core responsibilities exist across industries:

Allocate Unit Resources

Functional managers make day-to-day decisions regarding unit resources, including finances and staff delegation, to effectively meet expectations and complete projects. Functional managers examine projects in the pipeline and assess the needs of the project managers responsible for completing those projects, then determine how to best allocate the unit’s resources to complete projects on time and according to budget.

Maintain Master Schedules

Because business units often have many projects occurring at once, the functional manager manages and maintains a master schedule to ensure that work is completed on time. This schedule may include due dates for specific projects and deliverables as well as personnel-specific schedules, which can be especially important if staff members work on multiple project teams.

Manage Project Budgets

Functional managers manage project budgets throughout their units. These budgets can include materials as well as staffing decisions that impact project completion and costs. In this aspect of the role, the functional manager also identifies opportunities to reduce costs through cross-functional teams and efficiency enhancements, such as using existing processes in a new project and shifting delivery dates.

Lead Hiring and Staffing Decisions

Because they manage an entire organizational unit, functional managers make staff and hiring decisions to improve team effectiveness. Working with project managers and stakeholders, the functional manager determines personnel needs for specific projects and department-wide efforts and leads recruitment and interview activities to hire team members that fill gaps in the unit’s functional and operational capacities.

Evaluate and Train Team Members

To build more effective teams, functional managers conduct periodic evaluations and help train new staff members. In many cases, functional managers may be subject-matter experts and help new staff members gain familiarity with the unit’s focus or technologies, while in other cases the functional manager assigns team members to work closely with new hires to bring them up to speed.

Implement Process Enhancements

Throughout the project development and execution processes, functional managers identify ways to enhance their unit or division’s performance. While many of the functional manager’s other activities also closely relate to this duty, such as improving schedule efficiency or supporting training efforts, the functional manager also implements high-level improvements in line with company policies and goals related to efficiency.


Functional Manager Skills and Qualifications

Functional managers oversee budgeting, scheduling, and operations for an entire unit of an organization. They tend to have at least a bachelor’s degree, project management experience, and the following skills:

  • Team leadership – functional managers build and lead teams that can include project managers and many team members, so they must be able to effectively lead, inspire, and coordinate teams
  • Time and schedule management – in this role, functional managers oversee the schedules for their entire unit, which can include concurrent and competing projects, so they should possess excellent time management and scheduling skills
  • Budgeting – functional managers ensure that their division’s projects remain on budget, so they need excellent financial management skills and the ability to allocate funds to successfully complete projects
  • Conflict resolution – because they manage an entire unit, the functional manager needs to maintain cohesion and cooperation, so they should be prepared to resolve conflicts and realign priorities
  • Problem-solving skills – problem-solving skills are also vital in this role, as functional managers need to balance the staffing, scheduling, and budgeting needs of their teams and devise creative solutions
  • Communication skills – functional managers are strong written and verbal communicators, able to communicate with team members and stakeholders throughout project lifecycles


Functional Manager Education and Training

Typically, functional managers have at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field. However, many companies prefer to hire candidates who have completed a master’s degree in a field such as finance or business administration. Additionally, functional managers can improve their job prospects by completing a project management professional (PMP) certification program. There are few opportunities for on-the-job training in this role, although effective project managers can take on additional duties and move into a functional management role.


Functional Manager Salary and Outlook

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide salary estimates for functional managers, both Glassdoor and PayScale have gathered data related to pay for this role. Glassdoor estimates that functional managers receive an average annual salary of $74,016 based on 78 reported salaries, while PayScale provides an estimated annual salary of $71,633 based on 11 reported salaries.

The BLS does not provide employment growth estimates for functional managers, but its findings indicate that employment for general and operations managers will grow 9 percent by 2026.


Helpful Resources

We searched the web and found several resources if you’re interested in learning more about a career as a functional manager:

“The Role of Functional Managers in Agile: From Tactical to Strategic” – this blog post explores the role of functional managers in Agile, a development approach that focuses on building cross-functional teams

What Functional Managers Need to Know About Project Management – this book provides a high-level overview of the functional manager’s role and advice for leading teams and project managers

“Organization Structures in Project Management” – read this blog post to learn where functional managers fit into organizational structures and how their role differs from that of a project manager

Functional Manager – functional managers can examine their strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities to enhance performance though this self-assessment guidebook


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