Construction Project Managers Versus Other Industries

The title of Project Manager gets thrown around a lot today in our industry, and many others. Since the generally-accepted definition of a project is “A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result”, that’s understandable. This broad-reaching definition written by the Project Management Institute can define a lot of different undertakings in so many industries, and since every project must have someone in charge, the title Project Manager is easy to assign. In some cases even, it’s a de-facto title that someone assumes by accident or default in an organization, perhaps even on top of a functional role they already play within a company.

In the construction industry, however, this is not a title that is taken lightly – nor should it be. A construction Project Manager is a specialized individual that takes the title through purposeful education and training, deliberate and hard work, and only after a proven track record of results and expertise. For proof of this, we can look to the Construction Management Association of America, an independent organization that promotes the profession of construction management and provides education and development opportunities for the industry. Their website lists over 170 individual responsibilities carried out by a construction Project Manager. That’s quite a job description!

It’s not only the job responsibilities of a construction Project Manager that makes their role so important to a developer, but also the nature of construction projects themselves. When we consider the average multi-family project duration is 12 months (NAHB, 2015); we are reminded that the individual Project Manager will be a semi-permanent fixture in a developer’s life while their project is underway. In addition, considered the multi-million dollar budgets controlled by these individuals. There is quite a lot of trust that is placed by the developer and contractor alike on the financial knowledge and prudence of their Project Manager.

All this considered, it is worth a developer taking time even in the contractor selection phase, to get to know who the Project Manager building their project will be. Ask questions and get information on all of the following:

  • Project Resumes – For example, The Douglas Company keeps up-to-date resumes on every individual in our Operations Department, listing project experience, education, and credentials for our staff.
  • Leadership – Don’t stop at the Project Manager, find out who their executive sponsor is to make sure you understand what type of leadership they are receiving.
  • Credentials – There is an abundance of training and credentialing in the construction industry that a Project Manager can pursue. The Douglas Company has sent many of our staff through FMI training sessions, and we also have individuals credentialed by PMI, CMAA, USGBC, DBIA, and more.
  • Specialties – Does the Project Manager have specialties that align with your needs as a developer? For example, if you are a highly schedule-conscious person, you may request a Project Manager with expertise in this area.
  • Personality Type – It does take a specific type of person to be successful in such a specialized role. The Douglas Company actually has all candidates take a personality test before they are hired to better understand their style. Ask for this information too, and make sure you’re comfortable with the style of your Project Manager.

To see the staggering list of responsibilities of a construction Project Manager from the Construction Management Association of America, visit the following link:

Bruce Douglas, PMP, PMI-SP, LEED AP BD+C
Senior Project Manager
The Douglas Company

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