project management construction

What does a Project Manager do in construction?

16th June 2021   |   Liz Clarke   |   Reading Time: 4 minutes

Project management is a broad term and the role of project manager exists across almost every industry. This article explains what project managers do and how the role benefits a construction project. 

In the context of construction, the RICS defines it as follows:

“The project manager occupies a lead role in the development process with the responsibility for driving successful completion of the project and occupying the space between the employer and the building contract, design team and other consultants employed on the project.”

Acting on behalf of the client, the Project Manager is a professional advisor who is responsible for managing the day to day delivery of construction projects and is concerned with the technical performance, cost and time elements of the project. In the most simple of terms they will;

  • Plan what needs to be done;
  • Implement those plans;
  • Control and monitor the progress of the project; and
  • Manage risks.

In order to be effective in their role, it is important that they are treated as part of the client team – whether they are an in-house project manager or a consultant specifically engaged for a particular project. This means that they must have authority to issue instructions and review project progress as if they were the client. Clearly, the importance of this role is such that the client should undertake robust due diligence to ensure that they appoint an appropriately qualified and competent person. 

While some clients may have an in-house resource to fulfill this role, many choose to appoint an external project manager as it allows them to retain a qualified and experienced person as and when they are needed. 

The project manager should be appointed as early as possible in the project in order for them to be involved in early decision making in order for them to contribute to the strategic development of the project plans. 

The role of project manager is referenced in the NEC suite of contracts. The duties of the role will fall under the title of Contract Administrator for projects using the JCT suite of contracts. On JCT Design & Build projects, the role differs and you would expect to see an Employer’s Agent in place. You can read more about that role here.

The role of project manager is referenced in the NEC suite of contracts. For projects using the JCT Standard and Intermediate forms of contracts, the project manager’s duties will most likely extend to the Contract Administrator role. When a JCT Design & Build contract is in place, the project manager’s role may be integrated into Employer’s Agent role or a project manager may be appointed alongside depending on the size and complexity of the project. You can read more about the Employer’s Agent role here.

The role of a project manager on a construction project

As mentioned above the project manager is responsible for the technical performance, cost and time elements of a project and therefore must have both technical skill and commercial awareness. 

Key responsibilities undertaken by a project manager include;

  • identifying needs and developing the client brief;
  • assembling and managing the professional team and administering appointments;
  • identifying and managing project risk and advising on risk management strategies;
  • establishing project protocols, procedures and controls; 
  • implementing communication plans;
  • establishing the budget and implementing controls;
  • preparing a delivery programme and implementing controls; 
  • managing feasibility, value engineering and design development;
  • coordinating legal, planning and other regulatory consents;
  • liaising with statutory undertakers;
  • coordinating design programmes and procurement schedules;
  • providing procurement advice;
  • coordinating tender documentation, conducting tender evaluation and contractor selection;
  • liaising and communicating with internal and external stakeholders; and
  • progress reporting.

What are the benefits of a project manager in construction?

Construction projects are complex and fraught with risk. Engaging an experienced and professional project manager ensures that you, as the client, have the skills required to implement systems, processes and controls to manage the various teams in order to reduce and manage risk.

A competent project manager will have a deep understanding of how to deliver a successful construction project and be able to protect relationships whilst building a collaborative team that is able to overcome any obstacles that may arise during the life of the project. They provide direction and management through the design, tender and construction stages, whilst controlling the scope, cost, quality and time. Meanwhile, their in-depth understanding of construction contracts will ensure that they protect your contractual position. 

In addition to the above, the project manager is pivotal to maintaining channels of communication regarding the progress of the project to the project team and all stakeholders and to keeping you informed as the project progresses. 

If you are looking to appoint a project manager, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has a really helpful guide, which can be found here

What makes an effective project manager in construction?

Hopefully this article has helped you to understand the practicalities of the project manager’s role. However, delivering a successful project requires more than technical and commercial skills. 

In order to foster collaborative teams that are able to work together even if complications arise, the role calls for well-honed interpersonal skills and the leadership qualities that will inspire a diverse workforce towards a common goal. You need someone who remains calm and professional under pressure whilst being able to make fair and impartial decisions.

How Evolution5 can help you?

Evolution5 is a professional consultancy offering project management, quantity surveying, principal designer, employer’s agent, and contract administration services for projects across London and the South East.

If you have a construction project and would like to explore how the team can help you, click the button below or call 023 8040 5073.