Professional construction management refers to a project management team consisting of a professional construction manager and other participants who will carry out the tasks of project planning, design and construction in an integrated manner. Contractual relationships among members of the team are intended to minimize adversarial relationships and contribute to greater response within the management group. A professional construction manager is a firm specialized in the practice of professional construction management which includes:
- Work with owner and the A/E (architectural/engineering) firms from the beginning and make recommendations on design improvements, construction technology, schedules and construction economy.
- Propose design and construction alternatives if appropriate, and analyze the effects of the alternatives on the project cost and schedule.
- Monitor subsequent development of the project in order that these targets are not exceeded without the knowledge of the owner.
- Coordinate procurement of material and equipment and the work of all construction contractors, and monthly payments to contractors, changes, claims and inspection for conforming design requirements.
- Perform other project related services as required by owners.
Professional construction management is usually used when a project is very large or complex. The organizational features that are characteristics of mega-projects can be summarized as follows:
- The overall organizational approach for the project will change as the project advances. The “functional” organization may change to a “matrix” which may change to a “project” organization (not necessarily in this order).
- Within the overall organization, there will probably be functional, project, and matrix suborganizations all at the same time. This feature greatly complicates the theory and the practice of management, yet is essential for overall cost effectiveness.
- Successful giant, complex organizations usually have a strong matrix-type suborganization at the level where basic cost and schedule control responsibility is assigned. This suborganization is referred to as a “cost center” or as a “project” and is headed by a project manager. The cost center matrix may have participants assigned from many different functional groups. In turn, these functional groups may have technical reporting responsibilities to several different and higher tiers in the organization. The key to a cost effective effort is the development of this project suborganization into a single team under the leadership of a strong project manager.
- The extent to which decision-making will be centralized or decentralized is crucial to the organization of the mega-project.
Consequently, it is important to recognize the changing nature of the organizational structure as a project is carried out in various stages.
Chris Hendrickson is the Duquesne Light Company Professor of Engineering and Co-Director of the Green Design Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. His research, teaching and consulting are in the general area of engineering planning and management, including design for the environment, project management, transportation systems, finance and computer applications. Prof. Hendrickson is a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineering, an Emeritus Member of the Transportation Research Board and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Hendrickson is also the recipient of many professional awards.