How can we describe them separately according their roles? Actually I am a new student; I don't have proper knowledge about this. Please guide me as a basic student.

  • Are they managing a project or a business function? That’s the core of it.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Feb 11, 2019 at 18:11

2 Answers 2


Although there's a broadly accepted definition of what a Project Manager is, I'm afraid there isn't such canonical answer for what a "Functional Manager" is supposed to do. In most of the cases, it'll strongly depend on the environment or context the question comes from.

Potential definitions:

  • A person responsible for a given function within a company (Sales manager, marketing manager)
  • A person responsible for a given function within a project (Development manager, test manager)
  • A person responsible for ensuring functional requirements are properly tracked (a kind of Functional analyst lead)

Another aspects to consider is that usually a function is something constant over time whereas a project is something with a (planned) end date.

  • I don't think you would say a Functional Manager is someone responsible "for a given function within a project"... that sounds too close to an Individual Contributor role, which a Functional Manager is not.
    – gpgpgp
    Feb 13, 2019 at 6:16
  • Again, environment dependant. Above list contain possible different interpretations of the same role.
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Feb 13, 2019 at 8:05
  • And in our projet (100+ people) there's a Dev Manager, a Test manager and a Release manager. All managers in their own area.
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Feb 13, 2019 at 8:08

PMBOK makes a clear distinction between these roles; just look to that. Project Manager: person assigned by the performing organization to lead the team that is responsible for achieving the project objectives.

Functional Manager: person with management authority over an organizational unit within a functional organization. The manager of any group that actually makes a product or performs a service. Sometimes called a line manager.

Another way to look at it is the Functional Manager always has a "home base" within the company, e.g., Engineering department. The Project Manager doesn't necessarily have a home base because there might not be a Project Management department, per se.

SOURCE: https://medium.com/@pmpeople/the-10-roles-in-project-management-de52e382edd9

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