Client Side Project Management: Its Crucial Role in Construction

John Fisher
John Fisher
January 30, 2024

Client side project management is a critical and often underappreciated aspect of the construction industry delivering capital works projects. It serves as a strategic cornerstone that significantly influences the success of construction projects, interfacing between the owner of the project and contractors/consultants.

This approach involves a dedicated team, either internal to the client's organization or an external entity, overseeing the entire lifecycle of a construction project from the client's perspective. This team ensures that the project adheres to the client's specific objectives, budget, and timeline and serves as a crucial bridge between the client and various stakeholders involved in the construction process.  

Client side project management is crucial in guiding capital works projects to their successful completion. Understanding the significance and key role of how effective management on the client side can make a difference in achieving project goals.  

By providing a clear understanding of client side project management, this article aims to highlight its importance and its multifaceted roles in steering capital works projects towards their successful completion.

Understanding Client Side Project Management

Client side project management is an emerging practice undertaken mostly by consulting businesses and involves an expert team dedicated to the client's organization, either seconded-in or external. Client side project managers, as the name suggests, oversee a construction project from the client's perspective. This team acts as an intermediary between the client and various other stakeholders, such as architects, contractors, suppliers, and regulatory bodies.

The Integral Role of a Client Side Project Manager

The client side project manager's primary responsibility is to ensure the project aligns with the client's objectives, budget, and timeline, driving the project to practical completion. To do this, they bring valuable experience to the project across many key areas. Some of the client side project manager's key responsibilities include:

  • Reporting: Providing weekly, monthly reports & dashboards to inform project stakeholders.
  • Project Planning: Defining the project scope, setting timelines, overseeing design activities, and budgeting.
  • Effective Communication: Acting as the primary liaison for all stakeholders.
  • Quality Control: Ensuring adherence to specified construction standards.
  • Risk Management: Identifying and mitigating potential risks or opportunities.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Ensuring legal and regulatory adherence.
An example of a client-side project management report out of www.mastt.com.
An example of a client side project report prepared using www.mastt.com.

Client Side Project Managers bring People, Methodology and Past Experience at a Cost

Client side project management experts, particularly in consulting firms, demonstrate strengths in three key areas: people, methodology and experience.

  • People: Skills are specialized and will augment your capital works project team to cover skills or knowledge gaps. This may include displaying specialized and relevant skills in specific areas for a certain type of project. Often, they bring multiple key persople, giving your project depth it might not have without a client side project manager.
  • Methodology: A Client side project manager's team will bring a unique project delivery strategy that sets it apart, using innovative methods and technologies, showcasing project control and risk management expertise, and providing value-added solutions. Let's face it, if you're an asset owner and looking down the barrel of a new construction project and you've only renovated a bathroom once before - you might not have experience. Get a client side project manager or contractors and designers will eat you for breakfast.
  • Experience: A good client side project manager will showcase a track record with relevant case studies and client testimonials that proves the firm's capabilities in managing similar capital works projects.  

Of course, this all comes at a cost. However, a client side project manager will provide competitive and realistic pricing that reflects the quality of services, linking pricing with methodologies/technologies and highlighting the value they bring.

Essence PM Delivered this project as client-side project manager for SAAB Australia.
Essence PM delivered this project as client side project manager for SAAB Australia.

What to identify in a Client Side Project Manager

1. Alignment Client's Objectives

Client side project managers ensure every decision aligns with the client's strategic goals, ensuring the delivery of a project that meets or exceeds their requirements. They will stand up for you in a fight, get you value for money and make sure your facility is fit for purpose at practical completion.  

2. Enhanced Communication and Coordination

Effective communication and coordination among all parties are crucial. Client side project managers act as the communication hub, guaranteeing seamless information flow and project alignment. Let a client side project manager prevent fires from starting, rather than you putting fires out around your capital works project. They should also do great reports and document key status for you on a regular basis, such as with mastt.

3. Expertise in Risk Management and Innovative Practices

Client side project managers specialized knowledge in risk management helps deliver projects more efficiently and effectively. Having worked on similar projects and hopefully deploying the latest in risk technologies and methodologies, will give you confidence they can successfully steer projects.

4. Focus on Value and Return on Investment

Client side project managers prioritize demonstrating the tangible value and ROI they bring to a project, ensuring that the client perceives their services as a worthwhile investment. You can expect a client side project manager to have foresight and make at least one decision that should return their entire fee.

Proven PM is a client-side project management firm.
Proven PM is a client side project management firm.

Conclusion

In the slowly evolving world of construction, client side project management is becoming a valued practice. It provides clients with a strategic advantage, ensuring construction projects are completed to the satisfaction of end users, within a sponsor's budget, and in compliance with all regulatory standards.  

Embracing a client side project manager sets the stage for successful, efficient, and effective project delivery. Understanding and implementing effective client side project management practices can be the difference between a project's success and failure. Oh, and If you find a good one, hold onto them!

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