What is Construction Management?

Airports, highways, schools, bridges, hospitals, top secret government facilities, sports arenas: these projects are being built all over the world, all the time. And for most, professional construction management services helped bring them through to fruition. 

As one of the most exciting, challenging, and rewarding professions, construction management (CM) is a professional service that uses specialized, project management techniques to manage the planning, design, and construction of a project, from beginning (pre-design) to end (closeout). CM is a professional service that can control a project's time, cost, safety record, and quality. CM is compatible with all project delivery systems including design-bid-build, design-build, CM at-risk, etc.  

For all types of projects – large, small, vertical, horizontal, domestic, or international – a construction manager ensures the scope of work is skillfully adhered to, and the project is successfully delivered. 

What do Construction Managers do? 

All construction projects rely on skilled construction experts to bring a project through to successful completion. Most often, professional construction managers work on capital projects; these are generally lengthy, large-scale, complex, high budget undertakings. 
At its core, a capital project is made up of three parties (excluding the CM): 

  • The Owner, who commissions and subsequently funds the project. 
  • The Architect, who designs the project.  
  • The General Contractor, who oversees day-to-day construction operations and manages specialized subcontractors. 

These parties perform vastly different functions from one another, and in most cases, come from different organizations. Few owners have the skills or staff to pay close, continuing attention to all the details – details that can make or break a project. Instead, owners turn to construction managers/project managers (CMs) who pay close attention to project details to ensure success. 

A Construction Manager (CM) skillfully collaborates with and provides oversight to the owner, the architect, the general contractor, trade contractors and/or subcontractors to deliver the project on time, at or under budget, and to the owner's expected standard of quality. Professional CMs provide services that differ from general contractors or constructors. They typically do not perform the actual construction tasks themselves, but either act as advisors directly to the owner overseeing construction contracts or operate “at risk”, being contractually obligated for delivering the entire project. Either way, a CM is charged with assuring the project progresses smoothly and achieves the owner’s business objectives.

The CM often leads a team of specialists. These specialists oversee different aspects of the project including: scheduling, safety, cost estimating, design, quality assurance, value engineering, commissioning, construction inspection, risk management, and more. Most CMs have backgrounds in civil engineering; many are contractors or architects.

Construction managers adhere to CMAA's Construction Management Standards of Practice, which establish industry standards of service and serve as a guide to the range of services that constitute professional construction management.