What is the Difference Between Construction Manager and Project Manager?
Any one reading this question right now might have heard these terms but is there a clear picture
about what actually is the difference between a Construction Manager and a Project Manager?
Initiating a construction project is a conjunction of a planning and insight. There are 2 leading
forces behind any successful project, they are the construction manager and project manager.
We often hear these terms being used interchangeably but it is key to understand that there
are key difference between these roles and the work they do to execute a construction project.
Let’s get to understand these terms.
Who is a Project Manager?
Project management is the process of leading the work of a team to achieve all project goals within
the given constraints. This information is usually described in project documentation, created at
the beginning of the development process. A person who executes these are known as Project Managers.
Here are a few definitions across the internet that would help:
a Project Manager is the person responsible for leading a project from its inception to
execution. This includes planning, execution and managing the people, resources and scope of the
project. Project managers must have the discipline to create clear and attainable objectives and
to see them through to successful completion. The project manager has full responsibility and
authority to complete the assigned project.
Institute ( PMI ) defines,
Project managers are change agents: they make project goals their own and use their skills and
expertise to inspire a sense of shared purpose within the project team. They enjoy the organized
adrenaline of new challenges and the responsibility of driving business results.
Additionally, project managers work well under pressure and are comfortable with change
and complexity in dynamic environments. They can shift readily between the "big picture" and the
small-but-crucial details, knowing when to concentrate on each.
According to Product Plan,
Project managers are responsible for the execution of an initiative. First, they are responsible
for the earliest stages of ideation. Then their responsibilities lie in coordinating components
and budget. Finally, they manage these components through to its final delivery.
Who is a Construction Manager?
Construction management is the process of planning, coordinating, and overseeing construction
projects. It includes all aspects of the project, from start to finish, and is used for construction
projects of various sizes. There are a few common types of construction that utilize construction
management such as commercial, industrial, civil, environmental, and residential. Each different
category of construction has its own specific needs, so the construction management process and
methodology can be customized to fit each style of project. A person who handles these is known as a
Here are a few definitions across that might help in further understanding:
The US Bureau of Labor
Statistics defines a Construction Manager as someone who “plan, coordinate, budget, and
supervise construction projects from start to finish.”
According to the
Management Association of America (CMAA), the construction project manager (often called
a CM) is responsible for collaborating with and providing oversight to the project’s
stakeholders, including the owner, the architect, the general contractor, trade contractors, and
subcontractors. The CM leads a team of building specialists — everyone from designers and
architects to contractors and construction workers — through a series of tasks to bring the
project to fruition.
The University of New Mexico says that, construction managers coordinate and schedule
design and construction processes in the building of office complexes, residential homes, and
industrial structures. They may be involved in the construction of highways, bridges, schools
and hospitals. A construction manager approves and hires specialty contractors for operations
such as plumbing, electrical wiring and framing. Construction managers usually work on a project
from conception to completion. On large projects, they may be responsible for only one segment
of the operation.
Project Manager vs Construction Manager
They key differences between a Project Manager and a Construction Manager can be explained in detail
using the 3 parameters mentioned below.
Focus and Scope
Project Manager vs Construction Manager - Responsibilities
Supervising a construction team and delegating tasks
Overseeing the daily construction process on the job site
Collaborating with contractors and material suppliers
Maintaining material inventory and ordering new items
Checking local construction guidelines to ensure the project meets all requirements
Creating schedules for the team members
Writing cost estimates for the construction tasks
Observing the building project's progress and updating the project manager
Here is the Job Description of a Construction Manager:
difference to note is that it is not uncommon for Project Managers to step into this role
without much technical construction knowledge, whereas construction managers, almost without fail,
come from a construction background. That being said, when push comes to shove, the Project Manager
is the one who has more authority over the project.
Project Manager vs Construction Manager - Focus and Scope
The role of project
manager is present across all businesses. Many projects have a central person that lives and
breathes the planning process. But they also need to understand the process of a construction
project. This is where the Project Manager comes in.
On a construction
site, the role of the construction project manager is to keep the project moving forward.
They are responsible for a much broader range of tasks. Often, they are involved before the
construction phase begins.
responsibilities of the construction manager and the project manager are similar, their
focus varies, as the construction manager focuses more on the physical construction, while the
project manager deals with the project from beginning to end.
project managers and construction managers is the scope. Project managers typically are higher up
the food chain in an organization and they generally a have broader set of responsibilities.
For example, a construction manager may only oversee the construction of the building itself,
whereas a project manager will run all aspects of the project, from selecting the site to land
procurement to, well, hiring the construction manager.
A project manager’s job is to give the construction manager and everyone else on the project
the tools and support they need to get the work done.
oversees a large portion of the operation, they will have more direct contact with the client, who
will want to know how construction is going as well as other things, such as land procurement and
The project manager also has a greater understanding of the client’s needs because they have
been there since the beginning of the project and have already worked closely with the client in a
variety of areas.
Construction managers will certainly have plenty of communication with the client, but project
managers have more responsibility.
Project Manager vs Construction Manager - Authority Level
shove, the Project
Manager is the one who has more authority over the project and the other details.
Finally, these two roles are also differentiated by their focus. At the end of the day, the
construction manager’s main responsibility is to make sure that the project is technically sound.
The project manager, on the other hand, is more responsible for the project budget and the timeline.
DBB cases, the project
have more authority over the construction manager and take on more responsibilities, usually having
a higher salary as well. While the project manager and construction manager must both be effective
budgeters, the project budget must incorporate every detail in the project from beginning to end,
while the construction manager will only be responsible for budgeting the construction phase.