A construction project manager is the central figure on any construction project. He or she is the person charged with oversight of every aspect of the process. We like to say that project management in construction is like the quarterback on a football team, calling the signals and making plays happen in real time. In monetary terms, the construction project manager is responsible for controlling about 90% of the total cost of the project and for final delivery of the project to the client. That means that on a relatively small project costing $10 million, the project manager is responsible for managing about $9 million of the total cost.
Project management in construction begins with a set of construction plans, designed by an engineer or architect. The plans, however, do not include instructions for building the project. This is the job of the construction manager. It involves planning, scheduling, bidding, contract administration, cost estimation, management of the construction crews, procuring materials, managing the budget, making changes, settling claims, and finally turning the project over to the client. In addition, project management in construction involves oversight of the quality and safety plans for all operations. These diverse functions must be monitored throughout the construction phase to ensure that actual operations and costs align with what was planned. Finally, where there are errors, delays or issues, the project manager must make changes in a timely fashion to keep the project on track.
When taking on the role of project management in construction, an individual finds themselves in charge of the many priorities and tasks necessary to complete a project including:
The ability to plan a project strategy, handle unexpected issues and delays, solve problems that arise and tackle complex challenges.
Understand the financial and contractual aspects of a project as well as managing staff, contractors and serving as the liaison with owners.
Have excellent leadership and management skills and the ability to delegate tasks, supervise and empower other managers, and maintain a productive work environment.
Be organized and have the ability to multi-task and oversee several operations in different areas of the project, in real time, while maintaining the schedule.
Be decisive in solving technical and construction-related issues, as well as in situations that concern personnel, budgets, deadlines and unexpected situations.
Give clear directions, explain complex tasks, clarify technical details, write proposals and plans, devise budgets, document progress and report status and cost to clients.
Have a thorough understanding of construction methods and engineering technologies, interpret technical drawings and engineering documents, understand safety and regulatory guidelines and have special knowledge of emerging programs such as green building, BIM, LEED, energy efficiency, etc.
Because project managers are responsible for completing all aspects of the project and meeting the expectations of the client, they must be able to create an organization plan that will arrange high priority tasks in a logical order, balancing the needs of these tasks against all others within the confines of available resources. This skill is key to project management in construction of timely, under budget projects.
An individual trained in project management in construction is able to reduce risks by examining every aspect of production, identifying and overcoming issues before they become problems or delays, and applying acceptable standards of quality and safety to operations.
A construction project manager must have exceptional people skills and the ability to organize and lead several teams of workers. Everyday, project management in construction demands coordination of activities and problem solving, working subcontractors, banks, local officials, clients, and often the media about a project’s production. These managers must be able to effectively explain and discuss any issue that arises to resolve the problem and keep the project moving.
A project management in construction career is often thought to be a man’s profession, but women also excel in construction and they should feel confident about entering the industry. Women are excellent at organizing activities, communications, giving direction and controlling quality. In fact, Fortune Magazine reported on the rise of women-owned construction firms in 2013 citing that “they (women) are increasingly involved in project management in construction and as entrepreneurs in the industry”.
Job opportunities for qualified construction managers, specifically those with a bachelor’s degree in construction management or civil engineering (with construction electives), are expected to be in high demand through 2022. In fact, industry is increasingly using “design-build” methods for construction projects which increases the demand for project management in construction professionals. Students with an interest in project management, and who have the personality and technical ability to meet the rigorous demands of this career field, should seriously consider Florida Tech’s bachelor’s degree in construction management program where virtually 100% of recent graduates have found rewarding and lucrative jobs immediately upon graduation!