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 disputes.
- Monitor and assess overall client programmes and cost plans (which may include items beyond the scope of the main contract or consultant's 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.
- Construction project manager - morning tasks.
- David Trench - A career in projects.
- Design management.
- Design reviews.
- Game theory.
- General foreman.
- Independent client advisor.
- Interview with Stephen Trench - Project manager.
- Lead consultant.
- Lead designer.
- Pareto analysis.
- Preliminary business case.
- Project execution plan.
- Project manager's report.
- Project monitoring.
- Project sponsor.
- Risk management.
- Strategic brief.
- User panels.
 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
Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners win RIBA National Award for their British Museum extension.
The story so far.
Here is our list of the top 25 buildings in London. Do you agree with our selection?
A blueprint for the construction industry from Canada's west coast.
China's elaborate idea for a mass-transport system has been abandoned.
Read this article about the theories that characterise life in the hyperreal post-modern city.
Polyisocyanurate (PIR) insulation and how it was tested.
"We can’t sustain low density suburbs, density isn't a choice, it's a necessity." - Read our interview with the award-winning social housing architect Peter Barber.
Conservation area designation can be crucial, but treatment of individual parks varies considerably.
ICE publish new NEC4 Design, Build and Operate contract.
Report states $2 trillion is needed over the next 10 years to fix American roads.
What is the client's strategic brief for construction projects?
Read the story behind the world's most iconic festival stage, Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage.
Read the story of Ronan Point, another disastrous event which had profound consequences for the construction industry.