5 Key Responsibilities of a Project Manager


For project owners or tenants that are facing a construction or other facilities project, a project manager (or owner’s representative) can provide vital experience and focus to help save time and money – while ensuring a smooth process from start to finish.  A PM can be a valuable resource, especially for owners that do not undertake facilities projects frequently, and/or do not have the necessary in-house expertise, resources or inclination to manage the design process, RFP creation and distribution, team selection, contract and construction management.

But you know all that, and you just hired your PM. So now what? A Project Manager should be held responsible for multiple key aspects of any facilities project, which may vary based on the project scope and needs. However, typically, these responsibilities will include:

Step 1: Project Planning

Before construction starts, there are many steps that a PM should guide you through. These include:

• Formal Project Vision: Before detailed planning begins, all key stakeholders should be in agreement about the project vision and what factor will determine success.

  • Why is your company undertaking this project?
  • What budget is available to fund the project?
  • What deadlines or timelines will impact the project? Lease dates? Other business needs or drivers?

• Develop an overall budget, based on realistic cost estimates
• Develop a proposed project timeline, including key deliveries and deadlines
• Develop RFPs to be issued to potential key team members, which may include:

  • Architect
  • Construction Manager
  • Engineer
  • Other consultants, such as lighting, acoustic, etc.
  • Other vendors, such as relocation planners, furniture vendors, etc.
Step 2: Assemble and Manage the Project Team

Your PM will help you to identify and qualify potential consultants and vendors, interview and select the project team, and lead and manage the team throughout the project’s duration. The PM’s primary role is to represent the client’s interests and serve as the liaison between all involved parties: real estate brokers, developers, design team, construction team, landlords, contractors, vendors, and municipal departments.

To do this effectively, the PM will:

• Recommend potential project team members, based on their relevant experience and other industry knowledge
• Distribute RFPs
• Collect and assess proposals and bids
• Interview select proposing consultants
• Make recommendations to the client about selections for the project team
• Manage the selected project team

  • Build positive working relationships among team members
  • Review contracts and negotiate favorable business terms
  • Schedule regular team meetings and a reporting schedule
  • Resolve any disputes that arise (quickly and smoothly to keep the project moving forward)
  • Ensure regular and clear communications to keep everyone informed of ongoing status updates and changes
    • Schedule regular team meetings
    • Set reporting structure and schedule
    • Define project vision and goals, schedule and budget
Step 3: Keep the Project On Schedule and Within Budget

The PM is responsible for ensuring that the project meets the client’s needs, and stays within the set budget and schedule. If there’s a slow down due to weather, an accident or simply a task that takes longer than expected, the PM must ensure that changes are made to put the project back on track.

Some of the tasks related to this phase may include:

• Attending and participating in municipal planning, design and review meetings on behalf of the owner
• Reviewing the project on a regular basis to ensure that it’s progressing on schedule
• Overseeing costs on a regular basis to compare costs incurred to the original estimates
• Limiting or eliminating costs as necessary to stay under budget (value engineering)

Step 4: Minimize Risk

The PM should have experience with technical, legal and business issues that will help minimize the owner’s risk in relation to the project. To do so, the PM will establish appropriate business and legal relationships between project team members, and ensure the owner has maximum protection from contractor default and litigation.

Step 5: Post Construction

Once the project is complete, and any consultants or vendors have collected their checks and moved on to the next project, the PM remains to ensure a smooth and successful transition. This may include:

  • Planning for next steps, future maintenance needs, or a follow-up project or phase
  • Assist the owner with occupying the project or property
  • Monitors the project for defects or deficiencies, and resolves any issues with the responsible party
  • Coordinate furnishings and equipment delivery and installation

A successful project manager should be detail-oriented, timely, assertive, and possess strong leadership and conflict resolution skills.

As the project owner, you should always feel confident that your PM is representing your interests and goals. While these steps may help you prepare for what to expect as your project kicks off, a skilled PM will clearly and competently guide you through every step of the process, from beginning to the very end.