Construction Management vs Project Management? Defining the Terms
Terminology might seem tedious, but when terms aren’t defined or are used loosely, confusion can result. Two frequently used terms in our industry are often interchanged and can lead to confusion: construction management vs project management. The following will walk through the terminology and construction management basics along with differentiations from project management.
The Basics of Construction Management
Clearly both terms include and involve management: planning and coordinating resources to produce an outcome.
Let’s quickly get the basics of construction management down so we can identify it vs project management. The term “project management” is a management approach applied where a defined scope (the project) needs to get done within a particular time frame. Being universal, the practice is used across most industries and businesses for such projects as a software launch, the installation of an electrical utility line, the creation of a new surgical tool, or the development of a new real estate or renovation project. So here’s where it can get murky in our industry.
At Real Projectives®, we consider construction management a subset of project management. Project management involves all phases of a project from conception, land acquisition, design, approvals or permits, contractor selection, construction management, occupancy transition and close-out. A project manager must be more versatile and more experienced than a construction manager.
What is construction management?
Construction management is a professional service that provides a project’s owner with effective management of the project’s schedule, cost, quality, safety, scope, and function. Construction management is compatible with all project delivery methods.
Construction management focuses more on the purchasing of materials and execution of the actual work on site whether renovations to an existing building or the construction of a new structure. Construction managers can be employees of an owner or a hired firm as agency (like Real Projectives®) working for a fee or can be at-risk (i.e. general contractor) meaning that if they don’t get the work done on time and within budget they will suffer.
What is Project Management?
In general terms, project management is the application of skills, knowledge, tools, and techniques to manage/project activities to meet the requirements & timelines. Project managers help keep projects on time, within budget, and be one of the most important strategic partners.
Illustrating the Difference
To illustrate the difference between construction management and project management, here are two examples of jobs we completed recently:
- We served as agency construction managers for renovations to an existing hotel in Texas. Acting as an owner’s representative, we hired multiple trade contractors to repair the aging façade and roof, coordinating schedules with hotel staff to minimize disruption to guests.
- As project managers for a manufactured housing community (mobile home park) in Florida, we advised the investors on purchasing a property, including establishing a business plan, hiring architects and engineers for design and planning, and then engaging general and specialty contractors to implement improvements to the property.
Filling Your Needs
So which type of management services do you need? If your project is shovel-ready to start construction (i.e., the design is complete and you have all necessary permits) but just want another set of eyes and ears to make sure the project is built right, a construction manager would be the role to fill.
If you need broader services throughout planning, design, construction and operations to shepherd your project to reality, you should look for a project management team with relevant experience.
The people who choose Real Projectives® for either construction management or project management services rely on the breadth and depth of our professional experience across a multitude of renovation and development projects in diverse locations. Our knowledgeable staff expertly handles management tasks that may be beyond your company’s capacity or skill set.
Are you taking on a new project and need reliable support? For more information on construction vs project management, or the range of other services Real Projectives® offers clients, browse some of our other articles — or give us a call at 888.357.7342.