Functional Organizations

The functional organization is what most of us think of as a "standard" old-fashioned organization (the 19xx side ofFigure 13-3). It is the style in which people are divided into their functional specialties (remember Fayol's Principles of Management, discussed earlier?), and report to a functional area manager. For instance, all the software engineers in a company would be in the engineering department and would report to the engineering department manager. The same would be true for the operations people and the marketing people, and so on. A typical functional organization chart would look something like Figure 13-9.

Figure 13-9. Typical Functional Organization

Source: Cable, Dwayne, andJohn R. Adams. Organizing for Project Management, pp. 11-20.

The advantages of a purely functional organizational form are that it:

• Clearly defines authority—each specialist reports to only one manager;

® Eliminates duplication of functions—all engineers are in one group, marketing personnel is in another, and so on;

• Encourages technical competence and specialization—engineers sit near other engineers;

• Provides career paths for specialized skills—people see a career path within the department;

• Focuses attention on key functions—concentration on core competencies is encouraged.

There are some important disadvantages as well. The functional form:

• Lacks customer orientation and has "walls" to throw work over to the next function in a process;

• Implies a long decision cycle because it requires going up functional silos to get cross-group decisions;

• Has no single function accountable for the overall project, so project leaders have little power;

• Makes it difficult to coordinate activities across specialized functions due to the long decision cycle;

• Allows for conflicts between functional areas and bickering because of lack of customer focus.

A purely functional organization has no cross-functional projects. Anyone trying to lead a project requiring resources in other departments would have to get permission to borrow time from each of the functional managers' specialists when they were needed on the project. The project organization chart would need to cut across the functional silos of the larger organization. Two derivatives of this form are the project expediter organization and the project coordinator organization.

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Project Management Made Easy

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