The Functional Manager is in many ways a hidden gem. We – the collective ‘we’ meaning anyone who is involved in an ERP modernization – often talk about Project Managers (PMs). But as I discussed previously, the PM often benefits from Functional Managers to draw in expertise and insight, and to perform tasks across different departments of your company. This also serves to alleviate the Project Manager’s heavy workload.

It should be noted that a Functional Manager can include someone in a management role at any level within the organization. This person must have deep involvement with the resources responsible for participating in and delivering project tasks. This could be a VP, Director, or Manager, depending on the business and its organizational structure. People in this role often have a dual responsibility. They participate on the project’s Core Team in addition to their role as Functional Manager. Both roles require more day to day involvement within the project due to their responsibility of ensuring progress towards project objectives.

The role of the Functional Manager is concerned with the performance of his/her individual team’s contributors in accomplishing the assigned tasks specific to their area of responsibility. As with the previous post, this list was compiled from Georgia Regents University’s comprehensive list of responsibilities by project role. Here are the highlights:

  • Ensure the team responsibilities and deliverables, as outlined in the project charter and/or team charter, are met.
  • Participate in the planning process by providing tasks, durations, and resources for the overall ERP project plan.
  • Assign responsibility to functional staff and ensure work is done in a timely manner to avoid delays in the project schedules.
  • Facilitate effective, regularly scheduled functional team meetings using effective meeting processes. Create agendas and ensure action minutes are documented and distributed for sub-team meetings.
  • Monitor the completion of assignments by the sub-team on a daily basis.
  • Ensure that sub team documentation is developed and communicated.
  • Provide regular updates to the project manager and core team on work progress, accomplishments, and potential problems with recommended solutions.
  • Serve on the Core Team.

Time Commitment for a Functional Manager and Core Team member

Due to the greater responsibility for project success that the role of a Functional Manager carries, it is understandable that the time commitment for this resource will be greater. Taking into consideration that a Functional Manager will also be a Core Team member, a conservative rule of thumb (meaning this is a high estimate) is that managers with the combined roles can expect the project, at the most, to consume 15 – 20% of their time. This is a generalization too because the time commitment is also dependent on the phase of the project, design, testing, and go-live phases, probably representing the high points.

How will this time be used? Here are examples of the activities requiring the manager’s time:

  1. Leading functional area status meeting – suggested 1 hr, weekly.
  2. Participating in core team meeting – suggested 2 hr, bi-weekly.
  3. Daily communication with functional resources performing project tasks.
    • Resolving/removing obstacles slowing or preventing progress.
  4. Preparation of functional area status updates.
  5. Communication with project manager on issues, risks, work in process, and completion of tasks.
  6. Coordination of communication with core team for reporting to executive steering committee.
  7. Delivery of communication from the steering committee or core team to the functional teams.
  8. Champion for the project, communicate expected benefits throughout the organization.


The critical resources of both the Core Team, discussed in the last post, and Functional Manager are the grease that keeps the project moving smoothly.

The commitment that an organization’s functional managers assume in regard to an ERP or any business transformation project will be a key factor in its success. These resources are already in a leadership role and their attitude and willingness to be fully engaged in the project will translate directly to their functional team’s level of enthusiasm. Functional Managers need to encourage and practice open communication with their team, other functional teams, and the rest of the Core Team. They also need to act as both coach and cheerleader for the resources engaged on the project, provide support when needed, and publicly recognize accomplishments along the way.

Dennis Reader, PMP, ITIL, CSM

Dennis brings his ERP and project management expertise to every project. He delivers value to clients across a variety of business verticals including HR, Finance, Operations, eCommerce, Marketing, Web, and Order Management. He was recognized as PMO top performer of 2014 for his ability to direct effective teams that consistently meet or exceed project goals and objectives.