What is the Difference Between Construction Manager and Project
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:
Techopedia says that,
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.
Project Management 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
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
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
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 Construction Management Association of America
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
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
Creating schedules for the team members
Writing cost estimates for the construction tasks
Observing the building project's progress and updating the project
Here is the Job Description of a Construction Manager:
One key 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. While 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.
The main difference between
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. Because the project manager
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 site analysis.
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
Project Manager vs Construction Manager - Authority Level
When push comes to 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.
In DBB cases, the project manager
will 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.