Construction project management (CPM) or simply Construction Management (CM) is “a professional service that uses specialized, project management techniques to oversee the planning, design, and construction of a project, from its beginning to its end. The purpose of Construction Management is to control a project’s time, cost and quality.”
Construction Project Managers usually work on large, high budget projects like commercial real estate, transportation infrastructure, industrial facilities, or military infrastructure. These projects are usually called capital projects. In most every case, the Construction Managers works directly for the owner of the project to insure a successful project. For a large project the contractors and/or subcontractors may also employ project managers for their portion of the work and that person will work directly with the Owner’s Project Manager to coordinate the work.
Hiring a Construction Manager
Typically, for larger projects, and in my opinion for all projects, you want to hire the most experienced and most qualified construction manager or construction management firm for the job. This is called Qualification Based Selection, or QBS for short. QBS is required by law on federal and state sponsored projects, but should also be the case on large private projects as well.
The other way selection of a project manager has been done is called Low Bid. This method chooses the firm based on lowest price proposed to do the job for you. This method is fraught with problems. First, how do you know if the lowest bidder is experienced or qualified to oversee this project? You don’t, unless you’ve pre-qualified the bidders.
While price is a concern in all cases, the QBS approach also has a negotiation phase which allows the owner and the construction management firm to come to terms on the costs. I always say that a good consultant, be it an engineer or construction manager, should be able to save the owner their fees. This is certainly true on large capital projects.
Skills Required for Construction Managers
- Listening – Must be able to listen attentively to others in order to understand the points being made, and to ask relevant questions to glean a clear understanding.
- Speaking – Must be able to talk to others effectively.
- Critical Thinking – Must be able to use logic and reasoning to identify the advantages and disadvantages of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Coordination – Must be able to make adjustments based on the actions or needs of others on the project..
- Reading Comprehension – Must be able to understand work related specifications, plans and documents.
- Complex Problem Solving – Must be able to identify complex problems and review relevant information in order to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions. This should include consideration of the costs and benefits of potential options to choose the most appropriate one.
- Time Management – Must be able to manage personal time and the time of others.
- Management of Personnel Resources – Must be able to motivate, train, and oversee people as they work, and to identify the best people for the job.
- Negotiation – Bringing others together and try to reconcile differences.
- Active Learning – Continually reviewing the implications of new information to apply it to current and future problems and decisions.
- Monitoring – Must be able to monitor and assess the performance of yourself, other people and organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Management of Financial Resources – Must be able to guide how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.
- Writing – Must be able to communicate effectively in writing to communicate with the contractors and owner of the project and to document the work done.
- Mathematics – Must be able to use math to solve problems that arise on the project.
- Management of Material Resources – Must be able to anticipate needs and to obtain the appropriate equipment and materials needed to do certain work.
- Systems Analysis – Be able to determine systems needed, to develop and implement those systems in order to achieve the most efficient work possible. Must also be able to see when a system may need to change based on changes in conditions, operations, and the environment on the project.
- Perception & Persuasion – Must be able to perceive others actions and reactions and then to persuade them to change their minds or behavior to fit the needs of the project.
- Service Orientation – Must be willing and able to look for ways to help people.
- Quality Control Analysis – Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
- Teaching – Teaching others how to do something.
- Learning Strategies – Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Operation Monitoring – Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.