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Functional Job Analysis

>> HR Glossary/  Organizational Development / Functional Job Analysis

What is a functional job analysis?

Functional job analysis (FJA) is a systematic approach to identifying and describing the essential tasks, duties, responsibilities, and interactions associated with a particular job role.

Rather than just listing the tasks, functional job analysis focuses on what the job entails in terms of functions and behaviors. This information helps businesses:

Functional job analysis is one of the most common job analysis methods. Other popular methods are critical incident technique (CIT) and task inventory.

Components of a functional job analysis

Functional job analysis examines several components that make up a job role. The purpose is to gather as many details about the day-to-day functions of the job in question to then be able to use the results for HR-related efforts.

The three typical job components analyzed are “things”, “data”, and “people”. Let’s take a closer look.

Job componentExplanationExample
ThingsPhysical objects and tools involved in the jobHammer; computer; specific software; vehicle
DataInformation, facts, and figures the worker deals withSales report; customer feedback; inventory data
PeopleInteractions and communications with othersCollaborating with a team; assisting a customer

The expanded version of functional job analysis comprises four more components:

Job componentExplanationExample
Worker InstructionsGuidance or directives given to the worker“Assemble the product as per manual”; “Follow the safety guidelines”
ReasoningCognitive skills and decision-making abilities requiredSolving a technical glitch; determining best marketing strategy
MathsNumerical and quantitative skills neededCalculating expenses; setting a budget
LanguageAbility to read, write, and communicate effectively in the context of the given jobWriting a project proposal; reading a technical manual

Depending on the job analyzed, HR needs to determine which components or dimensions are critical to analyze, as not all dimensions are relevant to each job.

Example of a functional job analysis

When performing a functional job analysis, these are the types of details you would like to gather, no matter what kind of role you are examining closely.

Drawing on the seven components discussed above, let’s have a look at what a functional job analysis might look like for a job in an accounts payable role.

Job Title: Accounts Payable Specialist

  • Job Purpose: To manage and process the receipt and payment of invoices. To make corrections and amendments to those invoices when necessary, and to reconcile the invoices with the other elements of the company’s bookkeeping process. 
  • Job Functions: Control the inflow and outflow of invoices throughout the company as necessary. Ensure the swift payment of invoices received by the company. 
  • Job Requirements: A strong attention to detail. The ability to work independently and to process large volumes of data with the assistance of technology. 
  • Desired Skills: The ideal candidate will have work experience processing invoices before. They will be happy to work for long periods without much guidance or hand-holding. Someone who prefers to work with data. 
Job componentBrief Explanation Example
Things Tools and systems used by the specialist Accounting software (e.g., QuickBooks); calculator; invoice scanner
Data Types of financial and vendor data managed Vendor invoices; payment schedules; purchase orders; tax documents
Worker Instructions Specific directives and procedures they need to follow “Verify invoices against purchase orders”; “Process payments within the 30-day window”; “Reconcile monthly statements”
Reasoning Decision-making and analytical skills involved Identifying discrepancies in invoices; deciding on the prioritization of payments; determining when to escalate issues
People Interactions with internal teams and external entities Communicating with the procurement team; liaising with vendors regarding discrepancies; attending finance department meetings
Maths Mathematical tasks and calculations performed Calculating invoice amounts; reconciling balances; computing taxes or discounts
Language Communication skills necessary for the role Drafting emails to vendors; reading and interpreting contract terms; documenting payment procedures

How can HR perform a functional job analysis?

Functional job analysis enables HR professionals to collect useful information on various roles they can use to hire and develop employees. Here are some steps you can follow:

1. Define the purpose of the analysis 

HR must first understand why they’re doing this work at all and how they’re going to use the information gathered.

For instance, it can be to define new roles within the company and write accurate job descriptions. Another example could be gaining insights into how certain roles have evolved over time to update how they’re rewarded.

How HR can perform a functional job analysis in 5 steps.

2. Select the jobs to be reviewed 

You need to prioritize which roles you’re going to analyze. Besides new and changing roles, focus on the roles that are critical to the mission of the company and on the roles that haven’t been analyzed in a while.

3. Collect the data 

The collection of data is the bulk of the work involved with a functional job analysis.

Start by determining which job components you need to analyze. Depending on the job in question, not all seven dimensions may be relevant. Decide which components are most pertinent to the analyzed role.

Continue by collecting preliminary information like existing job descriptions, organization charts, and previous analyses. This will serve as a foundation for your analysis.

Then, you can start collecting the data about the jobs themselves. Some of the data collection methods include:

  • Questionnaires, surveys, and interviews with current employees and their supervisors
  • Observation
  • Job diaries or logs, where employees document their daily tasks and activities.

4. Collate and validate the information

Using the information and insights gathered, create a comprehensive document detailing the tasks, responsibilities, tools, interactions, and other relevant aspects of the job based on the chosen FJA components.

Before finalizing the analysis, have relevant stakeholders, such as employees and their managers, review it. This validation ensures the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the findings.

5. Put your functional job analysis to work

Once you have a full understanding of what goes into getting a certain job done, you can use the analysis in a range of HR activities, including recruitment, training, performance management, and compensation

HR tip

Job analysis should be a continuous process, especially in light of the pace of business change. To ensure your job analyses remain relevant, schedule regular check-ins with department heads or team leads. During these sessions:

  • Discuss any changes or evolutions in job roles within their teams
  • Identify any new tools or technologies introduced that might alter job responsibilities
  • Gauge if there are shifts in the skills and competencies required for the roles.
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