Skip to Content
6 minutes read

What Is Functional Management? 

By Robert Kazmi
By Robert Kazmi
6 minutes read

Functional management is a common organizational structure in a matrix organization. Regardless of the type of business you operate, functional management can be an effective way to manage day-to-day operations.

This post will explain what functional management is. In addition, we will explore the role of functional manager, highlight the skills required for the position, and discuss common functional management tasks that will be required to meet your organization’s business objectives. 

If you have ever wondered about the best way to structure your organization, you will want to learn more about functional management and the role of functional managers. 

Functional Management Defined 

Functional management is an organizational structure that relies on individual functional managers to manage a specific department or functional area. A functional organization breaks down its operations into functional areas. 

For example, an app development company would create a team for each functional area, such as development, testing, marketing, sales, human resources, etc. 

Each department is then managed by a functional manager who can ensure team members have the guidance and general management required to succeed in their roles. 

Functional managers typically report to senior managers or an overarching strategic manager.

In addition, functional managers could further delegate management authority to line managers who can provide additional support and expertise to specific team members. 

What Does a Functional Manager Do?

A functional manager must oversee an entire business department or area in the functional management structure. As a result, functional managers have several tasks they are responsible for. 

Functional management requires functional managers to handle critical macro tasks such as:

  • Coordinating team performance
  • Ensuring team members have the resources they need
  • Reduce inefficiencies and maximize productivity 
  • Spearhead initiatives 
  • Report to senior managers 

Coordinating Team Performance 

The key to success in functional management is that every team is responsible for serving their function and handing over deliverables on time. 

A functional manager must coordinate with the other functional managers in the organization to ensure their team is meeting their responsibility.

A functional manager must be the liaison between their team and the other teams within the functional management structure. 

Ensuring Team Members Have the Resources They Need

In the functional management paradigm, responsibility for the team or department is shifted to the individual manager. The functional management approach asks department heads to ensure their team has the resources it needs to succeed

Functional management requires team managers to effectively manage resources to ensure their team and the organization succeed. 

Any company that chooses the functional management approach should ensure visibility over resources, especially if there are many departments and teams. 

Reduce Inefficiencies and Maximize Productivity

For functional management to work effectively for a company, team managers must maximize their team’s productivity. The key for managers is to look at company objectives and compare them to their team’s performance. 

For example, if you were an IT manager within a functional management organization, you might look for ways to improve its information systems. In addition, you would also be looking for ways to improve the team’s performance by implementing and maintaining those systems.

Functional management works best when the entire organization is focused on an overarching goal. 

Spearhead Initiatives 

Successful functional managers take input from key team members like the project manager to bring initiatives from concept to completion. This includes filling in the skill gaps when necessary, communicating with higher-ups, and guiding the project team. 

Ultimately, for the functional management structure to work properly, team managers must take responsibility for the success and failure of initiatives. Therefore, functional managers are at the forefront of these projects as they manage their teams. 

Report to Senior Managers

For functional management to work, functional managers must regularly report to senior leaders and advocate for their teams. This chain of command keeps operations moving efficiently and simplifies communications for the organization.

Important Skills for Functional Management 

Functional management is the structure many organizations use to organize themselves. However, just because this management structure is common doesn’t mean it is easy to pull off.

Successful functional management depends on some key skills, including the following: 

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking 


Leadership skills are vital to the success of functional management. Beyond functional managers, line managers, senior managers, and project managers must take leadership seriously. 

The functional management organizational structure crumbles without leadership. This approach depends on leadership at every level. If your organization implements this internal structure, it must choose solid leaders at every level.

Functional managers specialize in one area of the organization. However, even at lower levels, leadership is just as important. For example, if one line manager allows their team to fail, the entire company could theoretically fail too. 


The functional management structure relies on effective communication. Without communication skills, functional management companies fail as departments get stuck in silos and fail to share a common vision or goal. 

Functional managers have to communicate with other teams, employees, and leadership on a range of critical issues, from administrative services to project budgets. 

Anyone in a leadership position in your organization should have solid communication skills. Without effective communication, organizations large and small cannot hope to achieve their ultimate goals. 

Critical Thinking 

Functional managers need to have critical thinking skills to succeed in their roles. Critical thinking is less vital than communication and leadership for other people in the functional management hierarchy, but managers need this skill.

Functional managers must think critically to solve problems, maximize efficiency, fully utilize resources, and meet organizational goals. 

Final Thoughts 

Functional management is quite a common way to structure an organization. However, many don’t understand the nuances of this organizational approach. 

Functional management fails when communication and leadership break down. If your organization wants to successfully implement functional management, it needs to understand the role of functional managers within the organization.

If you want to learn more about functional management and how it can benefit your organization, reach out to a skilled technical partner like Koombea.

Girl With Glasses

Want to Build an App?

Request a free app consultation with one of our experts

Contact Us