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22 Branches of Business Management

Max Freedman
Max Freedman

There are nearly two dozen branches of business management. Here's what you need to know about each sector.

Though some people may consider business management a single industry or career, it is actually a diverse field comprising many sectors. Whether you're looking to launch a career in business management, start your own business or pursue an advanced degree or certification, this guide should help you distinguish among the many branches of this large sector and understand the role each plays in an organization.

Types of business management

There are nearly two dozen branches of business management. Here is an overview of the 22 sectors in this wide field:

1. Financial management

Financial management deals with finding a healthy balance between profit and risk so that even with a setback, the business is profitable in the long term. This type of business management involves planning, directing and coordinating with the accounting, investing, banking, insurance, securities and other financial activities of a business.

The three key elements of financial management are financial planning, financial control and financial decision making. Short-term financial management is often referred to as "working capital management" and relates to cash management, inventory management and debtor management. Both the assessment and technique of financial decisions fall under this type of business management.

2. Marketing management

Marketing management focuses on the practical application of marketing techniques and the management of a company's marketing resources and activities. The four major areas of marketing management are company analysis, collaborator analysis, competitor analysis and customer analysis. Marketing management also includes brand management, as well as marketing strategy and pricing.

To maximize return on investment, it's essential to develop branding opportunities and to execute marketing tactics based on careful analysis of all aspects of your business. The scope of a business's marketing management depends on a business's size and industry. Effective marketing management uses a company's resources to increase its customer base, improve customer outlook and feedback, and increase the company's perceived value.

3. Sales management

Sales management involves overseeing and leading sales teams. As a sales manager, you drive your sales reps to foster strong relationships with prospects, convert them to leads and move them through the sales pipeline. Sales management often works hand in hand with marketing management.

4. Human resource management

Human resource management (HRM) focuses on the recruitment and management of an organization's employees. This includes compensation, hiring, safety and wellness, benefits and other aspects of employee administration.

A common misconception about HRM is that it's solely the responsibility of a human resources department or individual. In reality, all department managers should understand that effective HRM enables employees to contribute effectively and productively to the overall direction and goals of the company. In the past, HRM focused more on personnel administration, but a modern HRM approach uses employee programs to make a positive impact on both the staff and the business as a whole.

5. Strategic management

Strategic management is the application of strategic thinking to the job of leading an organization. Many of the other branches of business management revolve around strategic management, because the success of a business is often determined by financial, marketing and operational strategies.

Strategic management focuses on the big picture of a business: Where do you want to be, and how can you get there? Strategic management is adaptive, incorporates a competitive strategy and keeps an organization relevant. The most important element of strategic management is the formulation of the organization's goals, taking into account external factors such as regulation, competition and technology.

6. Production management

Production management is the decision making involved in the manufacturing of products or services. Production management techniques are used in both manufacturing and service industries. This type of business management is about converting raw materials into a finished product or service, and as such, this sector often references the "four M's": machines, methods, materials and money.

One of the main focuses of production management is ensuring that production is efficient, and this includes inventory control and employee training. Inventory control is by far the most important responsibility of product managers and involves tracking all components of production, such as required materials and finished goods.

Another major focus of a business's production management team is the research and development (R&D) of both the production process and the product itself. Businesses looking to expand, cut costs and develop newer and better products must conduct R&D as a part of their product management.

7. Program and project management

Project management is the planning, execution and supervision of projects. Project managers prioritize obtaining the tools or knowledge needed to fulfill both short-term and long-term project requirements. Program management is similar: It involves the same task for many projects, not just one.

8. Knowledge management

Knowledge managers create, distribute and manage a company's knowledge. Project managers may turn to knowledge managers when their projects call for information that would be difficult to find elsewhere.

9. Operations management

Operations management is the responsibility for ensuring that all departments of business operations are efficient. Managing the operations of a business means dealing with a plethora of departments, strategies and processes. Operations teams need to consider the acquisition, development and utilization of resources their business needs to deliver the goods and services clients want.

10. Service management

Service management varies widely depending on the industry and the business. Sometimes, it's synonymous with IT service management, but the two sectors differ in a few areas. First, service management usually incorporates both automated systems and skilled labor and often provides service development, even if it is not IT related.

One focus of service management is the managing and streamlining of workflow to automate or support human decision making. Service management is what enables a provider to understand its services from both the organization's and the consumer's perspective and to ensure that the services facilitate the desired outcomes of their clients. No matter the service, managed-service providers need to understand and manage the costs and risks involved, as well as the value and importance of the services to their clients.

11. IT management

IT management focuses on overseeing and handling the technology resources of a business to meet its needs and priorities. IT managers and teams ensure a business's technology is aligned with the company's strategies. The three key elements of IT management are IT configuration, IT service and IT financial management.

IT management also involves meeting business goals while fulfilling customer expectations. IT managers must focus on individual components and the delivery of end-to-end services using the best methods for reducing costs and improving employee efficiency. IT management incorporates the education and development of managers who can effectively manage the planning, design, selection, implementation, use and administration of emerging and converging information and communications technologies.

12. Public relations management

In public relations management, you communicate with public figures, primarily journalists, who can inform the public about your company's latest news, products and more. Public relations strategies may vary by industry, but they have a consistent end goal: a strong public image.

13. Supply chain management

Supply chain management is the oversight of how raw materials move from manufacturers, wholesalers or other starting points to your business. Your business ultimately uses these raw materials to create its products.

14. Procurement management

Like supply chain management, procurement management can involve the acquisition of products from another entity. It may also involve arrangements for services from third-party providers, and its focus is typically more on budgetary limits and deadlines than on the supply chain.

15. Research and development management

An R&D manager oversees the product research and development efforts of a team or an entire company. R&D managers may manage researchers and developers, conduct research and development tasks themselves, or perform both of these roles.

16. Engineering management

Engineering management and R&D management are among the types of management with the most overlap. Engineering management may involve more manufacturing – turning research into sellable items – than R&D management, but often, these two types of management entail similar tasks.

17. Design management

Like R&D management, design management is the oversight of how products evolve from an idea to a tangible item. However, design managers may focus equally on an item's appearance and functionality, whereas R&D managers often prioritize function over form.

18. Quality management

Quality management is the oversight of all quality assurance tasks. It often involves product or service planning. After customers or clients first use the product or service, a quality manager will assess the improvements that users seek and guide the team through implementing these changes.

19. Risk management

Risk management involves assessing business practices and identifying problem areas. Once potential flaws are identified, risk managers consult company executives and other department heads to discuss how these risks can be minimized.

20. Change management

Change management is a broad type of management that addresses a wide variety of company transitions, whether internal or external. Change management may entail guiding teams through policy changes or the implementation of new teams. It can be as broad as assisting with company mergers and acquisitions.

21. Innovation management

Innovation management is the oversight of several other types of management. Innovation managers may work to coordinate the tasks of R&D, strategic and change managers in order to streamline work toward overarching company goals.

22. Facility management

As with other types of management, resource allocation plays a key role in facility management. However, with facility management, the resource in question is usually a full building, such as an office or data center.

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Max Freedman
Max Freedman,
business.com Writer
Max Freedman is a freelance writer who covers best business practices for business.com and culture for publications including The A.V. Club, MTV, Paste, FLOOD, and Bandcamp. He lives in Philly and doesn't miss his native New York.