What is construction management and how is it different?
You might have heard the term ‘construction management’ and wondered what it is, and what skills you need to have a career in it.
‘Project management’ is similar, but there are important distinctions, which we will highlight in this article, as well as summarising what is involved in construction management.
The importance of construction management in the industry
It is hard to overestimate how important construction managers and construction directors are to the construction industry. Without them projects would be disorganised, have no structure or plan and would almost certainly not be completed on time and within the agreed budget. Construction managers ensure that work takes place when it should and to the right standard and that sub-contractors and the client have confidence in the way the project is developing.
What is construction management?
Construction managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a construction site. They ensure that construction work is taking place according to the project’s schedule and budget, that deadlines are being hit and costs are kept under control.
Construction managers and construction directors meet regularly with clients, set and agree budgets, deal with contracts and oversee the logistical requirements of a project.
Construction managers report to the project manager or the developer.
Roles and responsibilities of a construction manager
Construction managers are responsible for managing all the sub-contractors that work on site – from bricklayers and plumbers to electricians and roofers. They organise a project schedule, assign tasks on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, respond to delays and resolve problems that may arise. A construction manager needs to be comfortable with liaising with colleagues at every level, as well as the general public.
You will be expected to be able to consult with architects, surveyors and engineers, and have a wide enough knowledge of building regulations and practices to resolve issues raised by sub-contractors. The construction manager acts as the representative of the client or the developer whose site it is, so everything they do must be in their best interests.
Key skills required for a construction manager
Construction management requires an extensive amount of experience in building and construction. Many construction managers have specialist knowledge of surveying, estimating, individual building trades or civil engineering. An understanding of health and safety regulations and the latest building codes is also important. In addition, the following skills are essential:
- Leadership qualities
- Time management skills
- Excellent verbal communication skills
- Ability to problem-solve and use your initiative.
Steps involved in the construction management process
There are five steps involved in the construction management process:
- Project initiation
How is construction management different from project management?
The difference between construction management and project management
The principal difference between project managers and construction managers is that a project manager is responsible for the planning and delivery of a whole project, whereas a construction manager only manages the construction process. Not every project will have a project manager. In these cases, the construction manager will fulfil the role of a project manager too.
For major construction projects, however, a project manager is more or less essential. Construction managers report to project managers, whose responsibilities extend beyond just the construction phase of a project. They will have been involved from the very beginning, through planning and design to the very end, where a project is inspected, signed off and delivered to the client.
The advantages of good construction management
The main benefit of having a good construction manager is that a client can be confident of the project being completed within the agreed budget, timescale and to high building standards. An excellent construction manager will go even further, saving a client time and money without compromising the quality or safety of the construction work.
Challenges and potential obstacles
Despite everything that they might plan for, a construction manager might face issues beyond their control during a project. Some of the challenges can include:
- Unreliable subcontractors
- Poor risk management
- Lack of communication from other parties
- Unrealistic targets from clients.
A good construction manager will be able to respond to these potential obstacles and ensure that they do not disrupt the construction process.
Find out more about a career as a construction manager
At Go Construct we have job profiles that give you more information about what it is like to work in construction management, including salary expectations, skills and routes to this career path.
A wide range of construction management jobs, graduate schemes and apprenticeships are advertised regularly on Talentview. You can filter your searches by job role, location and also look for management traineeships, work experience, placements and internships.