Who Should Be Leading Your Construction Projects?


At this moment, somewhere in the world, a building or construction project is currently underway. These projects, which can include the renovation, remodelling, or repair of schools, hospitals, sporting facilities, shopping centers, residential developments, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, bridges, and roadways are often managed and delivered by a multidisciplinary team of professionals.

The composition and structure of these teams tend to vary by the nature, location, and particular phase of the project, but characteristically include Architects, Civil and Mechanical Engineers, Surveyors, Safety and Quality professionals, Project Managers, and Contractors. Given the relatively complex nature of most construction projects, some clients can be confused about and do inquire as to who should be leading their construction projects. Having the right leadership is integral to the project’s success.

On some projects, you may see the Architect, Construction Manager, or General Contractor as the lead consultant. We are of the firm belief however, that the Project Manager is more suited for this role. Acting on behalf of the Client, he can be empowered with the necessary authority and given full responsibility for the timely and successful management of the full scope of the project and not just the construction works itself. In that capacity, the Project Manager can leverage the appropriate management tools and techniques, leadership skills, knowledge, and experience to take on the planning, design, and construction of a project from inception to completion.

In working more closely with and alongside the Client, the Project Manager can better understand and advocate for its needs and expectations, be able to advise on best practice, provide project leadership, direction, and support, communicate the project’s goals and objectives, and ensure that the team is motivated, appropriately resourced, and led to successfully deliver and complete the project.

Ideally, Project Managers should be procured at a project’s inception or start, where their knowledge and experience can be of the greatest value to their clients. From the onset, they can provide key insights from lessons learned on previous projects, undertake the appropriate planning and budgeting, coordinate the design, identify and help manage risks, institute systems for monitoring and managing costs, define quality and safety standards, aid in the procurement of other specialty Consultants, and administer contracts or agreements as required.

Construction Managers are similar to Project Managers in some respects, but they fulfill a clearly defined role and function on construction projects. Typically hired by and accountable to the Project Manager before the commencement of building activities, Construction Managers have significant experience in and knowledge of the differing trades, tools, techniques, technologies, and methodologies required for effective construction. They can assist in the necessary preconstruction activities, which include design reviews, scheduling and phasing of the works, bid reviews, and site and safety planning.

In many instances, Construction Managers are hired by the General Contractor and charged with the responsibility for managing the site and timely completion of all works. Accordingly, they provide daily site supervision, coordinate with the design team to ensure that specifications and requirements are met, ensure the timely allocation and utilization of resources, maintain quality and safety standards, set weekly or monthly schedules, resolve issues on site, ensure the safety and productivity of labour, and prudently manage the construction budget.

Project and Construction Managers may share similar capabilities and responsibilities, but the two roles are quite different, as defined by their levels of authority and focus. Construction Managers should focus on the construction site, planned building activities, and the timeliness of deliverables, whilst the Project Manager on the full scope of project activities and in ensuring that the Client’s objectives and needs are fully satisfied. Yet, both work together to solve project related issues and challenges, successfully complete the project, and ensure a high quality product and outcome for the Client.