Functional Manager Vs. Project Manager

Dec 13, 2017

Though they may work together on projects, and though the degrees needed for both functional managers and project managers are the same, their annual earnings and job growths are different, as are their focuses during a project.

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Comparing Functional Managers to Project Managers

Functional managers and project managers oversee a team or group as they work through a project, but the former aspires to ensure the latter has all the resources necessary for them to complete the project. Readers will learn about the degree requirements, salaries, career outlooks, and regular tasks of these two professionals.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)**
Functional Managers Bachelor's Degree $83,500 9%(General and operations managers)
Project Managers Bachelor's Degree $70,952 (Project Manager (Unspecified Type/General)) 7% (Managers, all other)

Sources: *Payscale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Functional Managers vs. Project Managers

When a company wants to launch a new item or design and build new infrastructure, they have functional and project managers who supervise elements of the project. Functional managers are tasked with controlling the resources that will support a project, such as financial backing and skilled employees. Project managers, however, work with the team to develop the product and ensure the project is finished according to the deadline. Because informed, productive employees are the key to efficiency, both these managers should gain an understanding of what will motivate their teams, including bonuses or some autonomy to be creative.

Functional Managers

Functional managers work for a specific department in a company or on a project team. They locate funding, raw materials, and even staff for the organization or project. In fact, they may complete the hiring of contractors or other employees who can add their abilities to the group. Evaluating employees after a project or at the end of each year helps these managers maintain the efficiency of the department or team. They also schedule employees based on a master schedule. This master schedule is controlled by the functional manager and includes all the assignments the crew should complete within a given time frame.

Job responsibilities of a functional manager include:

  • Analyzing data from previous fiscal years or projects to determine which resources will be required as they plan the next year
  • Collecting budget and cost estimates from project managers
  • Determining the department or team's strategy for completing a task
  • Providing training opportunities for employees to continue their professional development

Project Managers

Project managers base their goals on objectives handed down by executives and clients. They develop a project proposal that outlines this goal, as well as the requirements for the finished product. Understanding the details of the project helps these mangers to break the project into smaller tasks, outlining the timeline for ideally completing each one. They also decide what elements of the project to spend more money on, such as raw materials or a workforce. They supervise the design process as the new software, toy, or space shuttle is developed, and foresee any issues with the project and plan ahead accordingly.

Job responsibilities of a project manager include:

  • Estimating the cost of a project based on previous experiences and necessary resources
  • Assigning tasks to each team member
  • Collecting data about production output and quality
  • Reporting any delays to executive employees and other stakeholders

Related Careers

Functional managers and human resource administrators both allocate benefits and hire employees, so those interested in a career as a functional manager could also find value in this alternative career. Similarly, if you're interested in becoming a project manager, you could also consider a future as a management analyst, because both try to make a company as efficient as possible.

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