Hierarchy for project management, construction project management, and construction

03 April 2019

A hierarchy for project management, construction project management, and construction

A question asked on Quora relates to the differences between construction project management, and construction, and project management. Here is my edited answer.

The distinctions matter because of the need to be clear, for everyone involved, on their roles in the work, and the effect of their roles and their work on other people. All projects affect a lot of  people. All projects involve a lot of people directly, and many more indirectly.

In the context of construction, construction projects, and project management  we can consider ach of these in turn in order to form a view of how we ensure that any project in which we are involved considers the wider population as fully as possible.

Construction: building things. Everything from ports and harbours to railways, bridges, roads. All infrastructure. And all buildings, such as hospitals. houses, schools, commercial developments.

Construction project management: project management mostly concerned with the construction. Examples abound of the ways in which, for example, major bridges, tunnels and railways are thought of as being construction projects. But we could take a wider view.

Project management: a project has a beginning and an end. Look up definitions for more detail on this, but the essential point is that it is not part of a normal operational process in an organisation. It delivers something new. Examples include a new IT system; a new business system; and a new procurement arrangement. And it might be an extension to an existing building. All of these are examples of projects. Managing them is project management.

Continuing the theme of a wider view, in every case there is a benefit to a broad range of people, and engagement with multiple stakeholders for success. Looking on a new IT system as an IT project, or a new railway as a rail project shifts the focus towards specific disciplines and functions, and risks removing the essential link with the people who will need to use and benefit from the project.

For IT, we are all users; we all suffer when it goes wrong, when something does not work as planned, when IT is difficult to use.

For construction, again we are all users. Every day we travel by road, rail, air. We occupy buildings. We suffer the burden of roadworks - and would suffer in other ways when roads were not maintained. These are example of the involvement of the much wider community that ‘a construction project’ needs to consider.

Project management in all its forms - even if it is described as ‘a construction project’ - needs to engage with all stakeholders during design, construction, and for the whole life of the asset that is being constructed.

If you need to think of them as being different, perhaps consider the hierarchy: project management for the whole project; construction project management for a defined part of that delegated to a construction company; and construction as the main service they provide.

But a fuller view for achieving a successful outcome involves everyone.

Barry Tuckwood Associates provides project management services, which have included construction, IT, data management, security, and change management.

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Telephone Number 020 8295 2009

Email Address barry@tuckwood.co.uk

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