What is Construction Management?

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Overseeing a modern construction project is no simple task. With so many things to keep track of — estimation and bids, procuring materials and subcontractors, managing the project site, communication between field and office, approvals and change orders — miscommunication and a lack of information can easily cause delays and cost overruns.

Construction management integrates all these moving parts, so information is communicated to the right parties at the right time from start to finish. When all team members are on the same page and have access to up-to-date information, projects are more profitable and less stressful.

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Here you’ll find everything you need to understand successful construction management, from how it applies to every stage of a project to selecting the best construction management tools.

Construction Management Defined

Construction Management Defined

Construction management is a service that involves overseeing the quality, efficiency, communication and safety of a successful construction project. Effective construction managers act as a liaison, exchanging important information and procuring resources to keep the construction project running on time and on budget.

Throughout the life cycle of a project, construction management keeps things organized and connected. At the beginning of a new project, construction managers create a winning plan and align expectations. They make sure that everyone understands their responsibilities and has the necessary tools to get the work done. And when unexpected issues arise on the worksite, the construction manager determines the best possible solution to move forward while considering the budget and timeline.

The Role of the Construction Manager

Construction Management Defined

While construction management is sometimes handled by contractors or owners, modern projects have become so complex that many firms appoint a dedicated construction manager who is responsible for coordinating all work done on the construction site. They’re key figures who workers turn to for instruction, and they also serve as the point person for communicating with the project owner.

Construction managers need a rock-solid understanding of everything that happens on- and off-site. A construction manager’s responsibilities are wide-ranging and constantly evolving, including tasks like consulting with owners, architects and engineers about the feasibility of designs, providing on-site instruction to carpenters and electricians, and much more. They must maintain good relationships with the contractor, project owner, suppliers and subcontractors, and other important stakeholders.

But what does it take to become a construction manager — and what do their day-to-day responsibilities look like? Here’s a quick primer on what being a construction manager means.


When working with a construction manager, companies consider their education, on-the-job experience and skills:

  • Education: There are many potential paths to becoming a construction manager, but employers often prioritize candidates who have earned a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study, such as construction management, construction science, engineering or architecture. However, someone with no degree but many years of construction experience may very well be more qualified than a college-educated candidate who lacks hands-on experience.

  • Skills and Traits: Construction managers must have strong communication and decision-making skills. They need good business acumen to communicate well with key stakeholders, such as the project owner and financial backers. Technical knowledge is also a must for managing the work site.

  • Experience: Much of the knowledge required to be a successful construction manager can only be obtained through on-the-job training or direct experience in the field. Potential employers will prioritize someone who has been around construction sites for most of their career. Prior experience communicating and negotiating with key stakeholders (not necessarily as a construction manager) is also valuable. These stakeholders might include the project owner, contractors, vendors and local officials.

Construction Management at Each Stage of the Project

Stages of Construction 
Project Management

Construction management helps the team during every part of a project. Let’s take a tour through each stage of the construction process and see how construction management fits in.


During the design stage, owners, architects and engineers create plans for contractors to bid on. The design stage is also when feasibility studies are conducted to account for any potential limitations of the project, such as:

  • Technology needed

  • Economic viability

  • Legal and regulatory considerations

  • Operational feasibility

  • Scheduling, seasonality and location-based requirements

Construction managers are responsible for sharing findings from the feasibility study with the team members who may need to account for those factors. They keep detailed, easily-accessible records of all information gathered during this stage. Once the feasibility of the design has been verified, the pre-construction stage begins.


During pre-construction, the project owner will select the contractor with the most attractive bid, and that contractor can begin assembling a project team. The job of the project team at this point is to examine and prepare the site and identify potential environmental challenges that could slow the building process. For example, soil testing could reveal whether soil conditions must be addressed before work can begin on the site. Once the findings of these pre-construction examinations are documented and synched with the team’s proposed design, the construction manager submits that information to local authorities to obtain permits.

The goal of construction management at this stage is to help develop a project plan that’s informed by relevant data and the input of everyone involved. The project plan covers everything from the objectives of the project to the roles and responsibilities of each team member. Construction managers also work closely with contractors to ensure that subcontractors and other workers have the necessary skills and experience.

Construction managers also address legal and budgetary issues, new requests from the owner and issues related to onsite workers. They continue to share information and requirements with stakeholders as the project advances, and they establish a system for communication and data tracking.


Construction Management Tools

Once pre-construction is complete, it’s time to start procuring the materials, equipment and subcontractors needed to complete the project. In some cases, subcontractors may hire their own workers or use their own equipment and materials.

Construction management is important during the procurement stage because someone must take the lead on communicating with subcontractors, allocating resources and keeping all team members in the loop. The construction manager also maintains detailed records of the many financial transactions that take place during procurement. When determining where to source resources — including materials and workers — construction managers may use their knowledge of the market from previous projects and refer to historical data from the organization.

If there are any issues with materials procured during this stage, the construction manager either handles it themselves or reports the problem to the project manager, if there is one. In either case, the construction manager must contact the distributor to report the issue and provide frequent updates.

Discover the best strategies for managing your subcontractors in this free guide


Construction management becomes even more important once actual construction begins. Good construction managers establish clearly-defined objectives and milestones so that everyone knows what they are working towards, and how long they have to get it done. They also provide day-to-day oversight and direction to on-site workers. Their primary goal and responsibility is guiding the project to completion, on time and on budget, by keeping all team members on the same page and troubleshooting any issues that arise.

Scheduling and delegating make up much of construction management at this stage. This might include coordinating technician shifts, managing the delivery dates of materials and determining which subcontractors will be assigned to what task on a particular day. Construction managers also keep detailed records of all relevant communications, purchase orders and other documents. They regularly monitor project progress and costs, using real-time data to protect the project from profit-fade.

One of the most important duties of a construction manager is managing change orders, which happen frequently due to changes in cost of materials, environmental factors, or the request of the project owner. The construction manager must evaluate the impact of the request on the project cost and timeline, and communicate changes to workers and the project owner.


Once the project is complete and the finished construction has passed all inspections, construction managers must provide owners with all available construction closeout documents, including warranties, manuals and any accounting records. Construction managers also make sure the project owner is trained on operation and maintenance. It is critically important to provide detailed instruction and training for the owner. Failure to do so could result in errors or oversights during maintenance of the building, which could lead to unhappy customers or residents — or worse, a potential legal dispute.

Construction Management Tools

Construction Management Tools

As you can see, construction management is complex, but technology coordinates the process. Construction management software, such as a construction ERP, makes it easier to manage documents and resources, and it streamlines communication between construction managers and team members.

Dive into this practical guide on selecting construction management software.

Key Features to Look for in Construction Management Software

Construction Management Tools

Here are some critical features construction management software should provide:

  • Financial and Accounting Support: Construction software offers real-time collaboration between accounting and operations teams. It makes it easier to track expenses, work orders and other financial information. The ability to review AP data, purchase orders, and job billing from the field or the office on a mobile device is a must.

  • Construction Estimating: Project estimates should be informed by data from past projects to be as accurate as possible. A construction management solution with robust construction estimating features will reduce cost overruns, avoid profit fade and boost your bottom line.

  • Productivity Management: By centralizing information and communication in a single location, you can avoid a lot of driving around between the field and office. And when key processes like approving change orders are automated, there’s no need to spend time tracking down approvals.

  • Broad Project Oversight: Connected construction management software helps you avoid surprises and stay informed with access to real-time data on each part of the project. With enhanced visibility into project details and the ability to share information with team members based on their role, it’s easier to collaborate and make data-driven decisions.

  • Data Security: Hosted, cloud-based software keeps your data safe from cyber attack and your technology investment secure into the future. Look for software with single sign-on and other data and cyber security features.

When considering a construction management solution, ask yourself exactly what your organization’s needs are. Which stages of your projects cause the most friction for your team? Where are you losing money? What parts of the project take more time than they should? Paper-based processes that might have worked in years past eat up a lot of time and money, and they make it hard to stay competitive in the modern world.

Simplify the Construction Management Process

With so many variables to account for in modern construction projects — keeping track of costs and materials, managing change orders, communicating with key stakeholders and managing on-site workers — good construction management is essential for success.

With a connected, comprehensive construction management software suite like Trimble Construction One, construction managers can quickly respond to changes and access the information they need to manage and complete projects, on time and on budget.

Trimble Construction One offers accurate cost estimates and convenient, real-time data-sharing between field and office — much of it accessible on a mobile phone. By identifying problems early and tackling them before they impact the project, construction managers can stay within budget, maintain profit margins, complete projects on time, and bring a more competitive bid to the next project.

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