Grouping activities by function is the most widely used form of departmentation. Similar activities are housed in a department or under a single chain of command. For example, sales, advertising, public relations, and promotion might be grouped in a marketing department; employee benefits, employee training and employee regulatory compliance may be housed in the human relations department and so on.
Functional departmentation takes advantage of employees’ specialization. Employees with similar training, education, skills, or equipment work together and under a supervisor responsible for that department's activities. Because one supervisor typically oversees a major area of activity, functional departmentation also facilitates coordination. For instance in a larger retail operation, one marketing department supervisor would control and coordinate the work of buyers, merchandisers and the sales force so that information and activities of each function would be more efficient and productive.
The process or equipment used in producing a product or service may be the basis for determining departmental units. Since a certain amount of expertise or training is required to handle complicated processes or complex machinery, activities that involve the use of specialized equipment may be grouped into a separate department.
This form of departmentation is similar to functional departmentation. The grouping of all milling machines into one department or the placing of lathes in another department is illustrative of departmentation by equipment or process. As a further example, a large food products firm may be departmentalized by processes such as manufacturing, package design, distribution, and shipping.