The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has for many years seen its role as the leader in construction management. The current challenge is to define and differentiate construction management from project management and from the role of an on-site construction manager.
I have been in the UK for the last couple of weeks and was at the CIOB Member’s Forum where this topic was discussed at length. My feeling is construction management has a very wide remit that underpins all phases of a built assets lifecycle from feasibility through to demolition and disposal.
My starting point is the presumption that construction management involves the application of construction knowledge to achieve the efficient creation, maintenance or changing of a built asset. Where a built asset, or the built environment, is a very wide definition that covers all man made structures from canals, roads and railways to any structure or enclosure.
As suggested by the diagram below, the application of construction knowledge through construction management has a very wide application. Whereas project management is focused on the efficient creation of a new product, service or result. Project management has a much wider remit than simply building. Any significant change can and should be managed as a project from the creation of a new software program to the reorganisation of a business’s processes.
The primary role of traditional project management in the construction industry (as indicated in the diagram below) is managing the site based construction activities from initiation through to closure. However, it is quite feasible for projects to be initiated at any phase of the built assets lifecycle to initiate a ‘change’ (eg, a maintenance project to upgrade the facility). Also, if multiple projects are involved such as building the 2012 Olympics, program management can be used to advantage.
If the ideas outlined above hold true, project management is the process of delivering a change, whereas construction management is the underpinning skill set used by a range of specific disciplines, including project management, as the built asset evolves from an idea to a design, to built structure, to a maintained facility through to its final demolition or recycling. It’s the knowledge of good construction practice that allows the surveyors and designers to create a cost effective design that is durable, buildable and maintainable; and similar knowledge is needed by facilities managers to look after the structure through its operational life. As suggested above, construction management is the effective application of construction knowledge to a proposed or actual built asset.
Based on these thoughts, a working definition for construction management could be: The effective application of construction knowledge to all aspects of the creation and care of the built environment to the benefit of society.
The lead discipline will change from Architects and cost engineers to construction companies and project managers to facilities managers depending on the phase in the built asset’s life, but each discipline also needs to understand and apply effective construction management to undertake their work practically and effectively.
What are your thoughts???