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Ad Huige
is a consultant at TOPdesk and works two days a week as
a functional manager at a semi-public organization.


Launching a new application is always a celebration for the project team. But the success
of the application is partly determined after the implementation. During this follow-up,
the role of the functional manager is an important one. But how do you take on this role?
Having visited many organizations as a consultant, I learned the

A functional managers core tasks

following: whether you achieve your goal is equally determined by

The most important task of a functional manager is making sure the

the tools set-up and the implementations follow-up. An example: an

application is used to its full potential. As opposed to the technical

IT department purchases a tool with a self-service portal to improve

and application manager, who are in IT, the functional manager does

customer satisfaction. But due to lack of time the implementation of

not apply technical changes. He does however apply non-technical

the portal is postponed to phase 2 which will never start. Or all kinds

changes. These can be changes to default settings, filling search lists

of data is neatly registered, but is never used to create the important

and creating emails. The functional manager also bridges the gap

reports. In both cases, the original goals are not achieved due to lack of

between the business and IT. He gathers and specifies the business

attention for the implementations follow-up.

wishes and communicates these to the IT department.

I currently work two days a week as a functional manager at a

Many mature organizations have a department with lots of

semi-public organization. Here I realized that the functional manager

functional managers. What you often see, however, is that this is

can play an important role in the applications success after the

someones role within the project group, no matter what department

implementation. Functional management is often a small role of one

they belong to. In that case there is no task description and he needs

employee and there is enough time to fulfill that role. However,

to determine how to take on this role. To structure the functional

priorities change after going live and functional management

managers basic tasks, Ill describe the most frequent ones.

disappears into the background. Appointing a dedicated functional

manager can ensure that follow-up plans actually happen, helping you
get the best possible value out of your purchased tool.


1. Spotting technical issues

5. Functional testing

If there are technical issues, the functional manager is the business

The functional manager periodically, or after an update, tests if

first point of contact to the party that needs to solve the issue.

everything still functions according to the agreements made with

This can be the case when the application needs an update, users

the user organization. This is called a functional application test

need the correct login data and permission or when the application

(FAT). The FAT can be verified by a user acceptance test (UAT). In

is unavailable.

both cases, the functional manager is responsible for preparing,

supervising and performing the test.

2. Collecting and prioritizing change requests

The applications needs to be adjusted continuously because of

6. Communicating with end users

changing user needs or new possibilities in the software. It is up

The functional manager communicates reactively and proactively

to the functional manager to collect and prioritize all user requests.

with the end users. They communicate reactively to all stakeholders

The important approved request will be forwarded, preferably to

when there is a disruption or a change in use. With proactive

a functional designer (FD), an application manager or supplier.

communications, such as newsletters, intranet or videos, they can

They can eventually make the changes in the software. Without

make sure that the end users get used to the application, helping

prioritizing you run the risk that people work on functionalities

them work with it as efficiently and effectively as possible.

that add little value.

7. Training operators
3. Informing users via key users

The functional manager ensures that all operators and key users

Users need to be informed about the new possibilities in the

know how to work with the application. They can do this through

application. The best way to do this is by letting the functional

class teaching, presentations or video tutorials. The goal is that all

manager communicate this information through key users. They can

operators understand the tool and can perform the processes via

make sure that all users stay up-to-date. To involve key users more

the agreed steps.

with multiple set-up questions, the functional manager can create

a platform where they can share their ideas. This could be a key user

8. Making documentation available

meeting, for example.

After the trainings, the functional manager makes manuals available

for the operators to use as reference. A frequently used form is the

4. Supervising new implementations

work instruction, a step-by-step manual. You can use this to get

It could occur that the application needs to be expanded to satisfy

familiar with the tool and it also automatically leads you through the

the users, for example when new processes need to be supported.

process as agreed upon in the organization.

The functional manager considers which application can be used

best for this and how. He or she translates the new needs into
new functionalities.


Expanding tasks: supporting the process manager

1. Processing report wishes

In some cases you can expand basic tasks by supporting the process

The functional manager pinpoints the report wishes with managers

manager, which means working at a tactical level. I myself have a lot

and/or process owners. He or she then builds these reports in the

of experience as a functional manager of a service management tool,

application and makes them available in the desired format, such as

so I know it is possible. According to a strict task division, the process

PDF, Crystal report or in the application itself.

manager should build his own reports and KPIs based on the training
and work instructions he received from his functional manager. This

2. Updating process documentation

however does not always work in practice. The process manager often

The functional manager researches which process documentation is

has too little knowledge about the tool and not enough time to learn.

used within the organization (work instructions, procedure descriptions

Thats why it is more convenient when the functional manager takes

etc.) and what the goal of each document is. He or she implements

an interest in the processes and the process manager can hand over

changes made to the processes in these documents and makes the

some of their tasks. These tasks could include:

documents available to the target group.

3. Proposing process improvements
The functional manager can, together with the process owner/
process manager, see where the process is failing or where it needs
improving. He or she then researches how the application can support
these improvement or where the now manual process steps can
be automated.
4. Providing advice beyond the application
The functional manager often has an overview of multiple applications
used within the IT landscape. Some of these tools have overlapping
functionalities or use the same data. As a user and manager of these
information flows, the functional manager can easily visualize whether
all information is managed at the most logical place. Their advice
about developing certain links, or whether the organization should
register more or less, is very valuable for the quality of the data and
can save time.


Additional expansion: Supporting the process



If you want to go a step further, the functional manager can also

role yourself? First make sure that the basic tasks are covered. Only

support the process owner. This will be mostly strategically. These

when these tasks are optimally performed, will you be able to expand

tasks can be easily combined in practice because the process manager

the tasks by supporting the process manager and owner.

and process owner are the same person in most organizations. The
functional manager can take on the following tasks:

Are you considering appointing a functional manager or taking on this

Once the functional manager has commenced, a large part of his

work will consist of communicating the needs of the business to the
IT departments or suppliers. This is not always easy, as I have noticed.

1. Providing advice beyond the process

Many people ask or expect something from you and it takes effort to

Various processes come together in the application. A functional

steer this communication in the right direction. In the next edition of

manager knows the relation between these processes and the bottle

TOPdesk Magazine, I will further explain the force field surrounding a

necks for the different process links. Are the processes located in the

functional manager and provide tools to help perform these day-to-day

most logical application? Or is it better to combine applications? This

tasks as well as possible.

sort of advice can help the process owner to make smart choices and
save money.
2. Providing advice for decision-making
The same applies to reports. Because the functional manager has more
insight into the process reports of multiple applications for different
departments, he or she can visualize which standardized KPIs can be
used. KPIs that transcend departments, processes or applications.
This is possible for operational data for decision-making (real-time
dashboards) and for long-term data for decision-making to support
the long-term IT goals.