- What are the fundamental differences between a functional manager and a project manager
- Is it possible to switch from a job as project manager to one as a functional manager? (provided I know about the specifics of the function of course)
Functional Manager will be dealing with:
The PM will be dealing with almost the same things but for a specific goal, instead of a function.
I think is possible for a manager to switch to a project manager, and pm to switch to a manager. Both are very possible.
A Functional Manager is in charge of a specific business unit. Here are some examples of Functional Managers:
Each one of these managers has a specific, technical skillset in their field, and this person is likely a manager partly based on their knowledge and experience in that area. For example, the Development Manager was likely a Software Developer at one point, and the Sales Manager was likely a Sales Associate at one point in time.
Project Managers, on the other hand, work with a project team toward a specific goal. The Project Manager may have expertise in a particular field, such as Software Development, but works with a cross-functional project team to meet a specific goal.
The Project Manager may work with developers, sales associates, call center managers, customer service managers, marketing associates, and other personnel that have an impact on the project. In some cases, a Project Manager may report to a functional manager, while in other cases, such as in a Matrix Organization, Project Managers work alongside Functional Managers.
A Functional Manager with good coordination and communication skills could move into a Project Management role. Having expertise in one area of the business is helpful, and a willingness to learn a little about everything is even more helpful.
A Project Manager with a strong talent and knowledge base in one area could move into a role as a Functional Manager. For instance, a Project Manager who was a Software Engineer could move into a role as a Development Manager, or a Project Manager with marketing experience could move into a Marketing Manager role.
However, the question one must ask is Are Functional Managers or Project Managers Better Candidates for Executive-Level Positions?
Can you switch? Yes, the right skill set will always work both ways. But, the jobs are very different and require different application of the same skills. When you are a PM and you have a difficult team member, you usually only have to deal with that until the end of the project - temporary and specific behavior adjustment. When the same person reports to you on a day to day basis you need to deal with this behavior year after year.
I feel there is one and only one true difference between a functional manager and a project manager.
At the end of the year, the fucntional manager writes a job review.
There are three regularily accepted types of job power, Role, Expertise and Relationship. Ask around nearly any job industry and you'll get a general agreement that Role power is all but dead. A manager that uses his "Boss" power to rule his department is not going to last long. We even see the ability to hire and fire degraded for the traditional boss. To fire someone requires incredible amounts of paper work and acts of HR.
Relationship power is the primary power of getting things done. Expertise power helps to give your reltionships some firm ground to stand on.
To that end, both PMs and FMs must be good at managing people.
Here is an article describing The Three Types of Power at Work.