A project manager is a specialist advisor that represents the client and is responsible for the day-to-day management of a project.
They seldom participate directly in activities that produce the end result but rather strive to maintain the progress and mutual interaction of the project team in such a way that reduces the risk of failure, maximises benefits and controls cost.
If a project manager is appointed, they function most effectively when they operate as if they were part of the client organisation. They are not part of the consultant team. They should be able to issue instructions and review progress as if they were the client. During the briefing process however the project manager should allow the consultant team direct access to the client and user panels without interference.
Experienced clients may have their own in-house project managers.
The project manager should be appointed as early in the development of the project as possible in order to:
- Help the client develop their preliminary business case and initial strategic brief.
- Advise on the selection and appointment of the consultant team (and perhaps to manage the appointment process).
- Help the client to organise themselves and identify the roles and responsibilities of client representatives, champions and user panels.
- Issue information and instructions on behalf of the client.
- Develop a project execution plan, including selection of procurement route and contracts.
- Contribute to risk management exercises.
- Contribute to value management exercises.
- Contribute to design reviews.
- Advise on the selection of contractors.
- Validate payments.
- Oversee change control procedures.
- Advise on disuptes.
- Monitor and assess overall client programmes and cost plans (which may include items beyond the scope of the main contract or consultants appointments).
- Advise on the transition from construction to occupation.
- Report to the client.
The success of a project manager is generally reliant on the effectiveness of the specific individual appointed rather that the reputation of the company they work for. It is important therefore that the individual selected is named in the appointment document and that they cannot be substituted without the agreement of the client.
The required characteristics of an effective project manager are:
- An ability to solve problems with intellectual rigour.
- Energy coupled with the ability to inspire others.
- Confident leadership and communication skills.
- Capability of seeing the whole picture.
- Good negotiating skills.
On publicly-funded projects, a project manager might be appointed from the private sector, or an experienced project sponsor might act as project manager. OGC guidance describes the project manager as,
...the named individual (often from the private sector) responsible for the day-today detailed management of the project and who provides the interface between the project sponsor and the supplier members of the project team.
The position of the project manager within the overall project organisation is illustrated below:
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Business administration.
- Change control procedures.
- Client design advisor.
- Code of practice for project management.
- Code of practice for programme management.
- Commercial management.
- Commercial manager.
- Design management.
- Design reviews.
- Lead consultant.
- Lead designer.
- Independent client advisor.
- Interview with Stephen Trench - Project manager.
- Preliminary business case.
- Project execution plan.
- Project manager's report.
- Project sponsor.
- Risk management.
- Strategic brief.
- User panels.
- Value management.
 External references
- Association for Project Management.
- PACE Guidance on the Appointment of Contractors and Consultants P533 and 74.
- OGC AE5:The integrated project team for details of OGC project manager role.
Featured articles and news
Leaps, not steps, are needed to avoid a ticking time bomb, say BRE in response to Farmer Review.
A multi-purpose hall in France covered in a translucent orange membrane.
Winning designs revealed for a rock formation-influenced residential complex in Rennes.
An article explaining the techniques, regulations and environmental impacts of carbon capture and storage.
Watch one of the first documentaries by the acclaimed Adam Curtis, examining the substandard system building of the 1960s.
Take a look at the tech start-up that could transform construction design and communication.
This house in Barcelona uses an innovative new facade tiling system to blend into the landscape.
The origins, evolution and future of Level 3 BIM.
For new and returning Urban Design students, check out our article list divided up into the modules you'll be studying.
Report states that health of urban dwellers could be significantly improved by rethinking transport design.
The Kremlin, the centre of Russian power, includes some of the country's finest architecture.