Primary Business Functions

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A close-up of a tangible business flow chart.
A close-up of a tangible business flow chart. (Image: ktsimage/iStock/Getty Images)

A business function refers to a component of a business that is responsible for one major area of the business' operations. For example, in a manufacturing enterprise, one of the most important such functions is production - the department that actually makes the product to be sold. Another important function is sales and marketing -- once a product has been manufactured, it must be sold for the company to realize any income or profit. Dividing an enterprise into business functions helps manage it better by setting clear-cut objectives and assigning distinct strategic goals for each function.

Production and Operations

In addition to making the company's product, the production/operations function usually is responsible for many associated functions, such as acquiring raw materials, projecting production goals, monitoring costs within its own area, and keeping abreast of best practices so as to improve its own methods and procedures.

Sales and Marketing

Sales and marketing's business function generally goes beyond the physical sale of goods or placing them in suitable retail outlets. A great deal of this function is involved with market research and promotion, pricing and sales strategies. Sales and marketing teams take an active part in product development, often working hand in glove with production by providing advice on new product designs and product improvement..

Human Resources

Beyond recruiting and hiring, human resources addresses most employee statutory compliance issues such as ensuring that applicants are legally entitled to work in the U.S. It also looks after staff members' professional development and training, as well as monitoring workers' health and safety and conditions at work. HR is instrumental in establishing terms and conditions of employment, either as management's representative or in collective bargaining with labor organizations representing the workers.

Finance and Accounting

The finance and accounting function oversees the collection of revenues and payment of all invoives, and ensures that amounts received or paid are correct. It also includes cash flow management, preparation of accounting reports and raising financing when necessary, through issuing shares or borrowing. This function especially supports links with all other functional areas.

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