Construction management (CM) is a professional service that uses specialized, project management techniques to oversee the planning, design, and construction of a project, from its beginning to its end. The purpose of Construction management is to control a project's time / delivery, cost and quality—sometimes referred to as a project management triangle or "triple constraints." CM is compatible with all project delivery systems, including design-bid-build, design-build, CM At-Risk and Public Private Partnerships. Professional construction managers may be reserved for lengthy, large-scale, high budget undertakings (commercial real estate, transportation infrastructure, industrial facilities, and military infrastructure), called capital projects.
Contractors are assigned to a construction project during the design or once the design has been completed by a licensed architect or a licensed civil engineer. This is done by going through a bidding process with different contractors. The contractor is selected by using one of three common selection methods: low-bid selection, best-value selection, or qualifications-based selection.
The functions of construction management typically include the following:
The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) states the most common responsibilities of a Construction Manager fall into the following 7 categories: Project Management Planning, Cost Management, Time Management, Quality Management, Contract Administration, Safety Management, and CM Professional Practice. CM professional practice includes specific activities such as defining the responsibilities and management structure of the project management team, organizing and leading by implementing project controls, defining roles and responsibilities, developing communication protocols, and identifying elements of project design and construction likely to give rise to disputes and claims.
A bid is given to the owner by construction managers that are willing to complete their construction project. A bid tells the owner how much money they should expect to pay the construction management company in order for them to complete the project.
The stages of a typical construction project have been defined as feasibility, design, construction and operation, each stage relating to the project life cycle.
Feasibility and design involves four steps: programming and feasibility, schematic design, design development, and contract documents. It is the responsibility of the design team to ensure that the design meets all building codes and regulations. It is during the design stage that the bidding process takes place.
The pre-construction stage begins when the owner gives a notice to proceed to the contractor that they have chosen through the bidding process. A notice to proceed is when the owner gives permission to the contractor to begin their work on the project. The first step is to assign the project team which includes the project manager (PM), contract administrator, superintendent, and field engineer.
During the pre-construction stage, a site investigation must take place. A site investigation takes place to discover if any steps need to be implemented on the job site. This is in order to get the site ready before the actual construction begins. This also includes any unforeseen conditions such as historical artifacts or environment problems. A soil test must be done to determine if the soil is in good condition to be built upon.
The procurement stage is when labor, materials and equipment needed to complete the project are purchased. This can be done by the general contractor if the company does all their own construction work. If the contractor does not do their own work, they obtain it through subcontractors. Subcontractors are contractors who specialize in one particular aspect of the construction work such as concrete, welding, glass, or carpentry. Subcontractors are hired the same way a general contractor would be, which is through the bidding process. Purchase orders are also part of the procurement stage.
The construction stage begins with a pre-construction meeting brought together by the superintendent (on an American project). The pre-construction meeting is meant to make decisions dealing with work hours, material storage, quality control, and site access. The next step is to move everything onto the construction site and set it all up.
A contractor progress payment schedule is a schedule of when (according to project milestones or specified dates) contractors and suppliers will be paid for the current progress of installed work.
Progress payments or interim payments are partial payments for work completed during a portion of a construction period, usually a month. Progress payments are made to general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers as construction projects progress. Payments are typically made on a monthly basis but could be modified to meet certain milestones. Progress payments are an important part of contract administration for the contractor. Proper preparation of the information necessary for payment processing can help the contractor financially complete the project. 
Once the owner moves into the building, a warranty period begins. This is to ensure that all materials, equipment, and quality meet the expectations of the owner that are included within the contract.
When construction vehicles are driving around a site or moving earth, a lot of dust is created, especially during the dryer months. This may cause disruption for surrounding businesses or homes. A popular method of dust control is to have a water truck driving through the site spraying water on the dry dirt to minimize the movement of dust within and out of the construction site. When water is introduced mud is created. This mud sticks to the tires of the construction vehicles and is often lead out to the surrounding roads. A street sweeper may clean the roads to reduce dirty road conditions.
Project meetings take place at scheduled intervals to discuss the progress on the construction site and any concerns or issues. The discussion and any decisions made at the meeting must be documented.
Diaries, logs, and daily field reports keep track of the daily activities on a job site each day.
Labor statements are required on a daily basis. Also list of Labor, PERT CPM are needed for labor planning to complete a project in time.
Construction Management education comes in a variety of formats: formal degree programs (two-year associate degree; four-year baccalaureate degree, master's degree, project management, operations management engineer degree, doctor of philosophy degree, postdoctoral researcher); on-the-job-training; and continuing education and professional development. Information on degree programs is available from ABET, the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE), the American Academy of Project Management (AAPM), the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) or the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC).
According to the American Council for Construction Education (one of the academic accreditation agencies responsible for accrediting construction management programs in the U.S.), the academic field of construction management encompasses a wide range of topics. These range from general management skills, through management skills specifically related to construction, to technical knowledge of construction methods and practices. There are many schools offering Construction Management programs, including some offering a master's degree.
Capital project management software (CPMS) refers to the systems that are currently available that help capital project owner/operators, program managers, and construction managers, control and manage the vast amount of information that capital construction projects create. A collection, or portfolio of projects only makes this a bigger challenge. These systems go by different names: capital project management software, computer construction software, construction management software, project management information systems. Usually construction management can be referred as subset of CPMS where the scope of CPMS is not limited to construction phases of project. Among main construction management software can be mentioned Procore and PlanGrid.
The construction industry typically includes three parties: an owner, a licensed designer (architect or engineer) and a builder (usually known as a general contractor). There are traditionally two contracts between these parties as they work together to plan, design and construct the project. The first contract is the owner-designer contract, which involves planning, design, and construction contract administration. The second contract is the owner-contractor contract, which involves construction. An indirect third-party relationship exists between the designer and the contractor, due to these two contracts.
An owner may also contract with a construction project management company as an adviser, creating a third contract relationship in the project. The construction manager's role is to provide construction advice to the designer, design advice to the constructor on the owner's behalf and other advice as necessary.
The phrase "design, bid, build" describes the prevailing model of construction management, in which the general contractor is engaged through a tender process after designs have been completed by the architect or engineer.
Many owners – particularly government agencies – let out contracts known as design-build contracts. In this type of contract, the construction team (known as the design-builder) is responsible for taking the owner's concept and completing a detailed design before (following the owner's approval of the design) proceeding with construction. Virtual design and construction technology may be used by contractors to maintain a tight construction time.
There are three main advantages to a design-build contract. First, the construction team is motivated to work with the architect to develop a practical design. The team can find creative ways to reduce construction costs without reducing the function of the final product. The second major advantage involves the schedule. Many projects are commissioned within a tight time frame. Under a traditional contract, construction cannot begin until after the design is finished and the project has been awarded to a bidder. In a design-build contract the contractor is established at the outset, and construction activities can proceed concurrently with the design. The third major advantage is that the design-build contractor has an incentive to keep the combined design and construction costs within the owner's budget. If speed is important, design and construction contracts can be awarded separately; bidding takes place on preliminary plans in a not-to-exceed contract instead of a single firm design-build contract.
The major problem with design-build contracts is an inherent conflict of interest. In a standard contract the architect works for the owner and is directly responsible to the owner. In design-build the architect works for the design-builder, not the owner, therefore the design-builder may make design and construction decisions that benefit the design-builder, but that do not benefit the owner. During construction, the architect normally acts as the owner's representative. This includes reviewing the builder's work and ensuring that the products and methods meet specifications and codes. The architect's role is compromised when the architect works for the design-builder and not for the owner directly. Thus, the owner may get a building that is over-designed to increase profits for the design-builder, or a building built with lesser-quality products to maximize profits.
Project-management methodology is as follows:
Construction cost management is a fee-based service in which the construction manager (CM) is responsible exclusively to the owner, acting in the owner's interests at every stage of the project. The construction manager offers impartial advice on matters such as:
Comprehensive management of every stage of the project, beginning with the original concept and project definition, yields the greatest benefit to owners. As time progresses beyond the pre-design phase, the CM's ability to effect cost savings diminishes. The agency CM can represent the owner by helping select the design and construction teams and managing the design (preventing scope creep), helping the owner stay within a predetermined budget with value engineering, cost-benefit analysis and best-value comparisons. The software-application field of construction collaboration technology has been developed to apply information technology to construction management.
CM at-risk is a delivery method which entails a commitment by the construction manager to deliver the project within a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP). The construction manager acts as a consultant to the owner in the development and design phases (preconstruction services), and as a general contractor during construction. When a construction manager is bound to a GMP, the fundamental character of the relationship is changed. In addition to acting in the owner's interest, the construction manager must control construction costs to stay within the GMP.
CM at-risk is a global term referring to the business relationship of a construction contractor, owner and architect (or designer). Typically, a CM at-risk arrangement eliminates a "low-bid" construction project. A GMP agreement is a typical part of the CM-and-owner agreement (comparable to a "low-bid" contract), but with adjustments in responsibility for the CM. The advantage of a CM at-risk arrangement is budget management. Before a project's design is completed (six to eighteen months of coordination between designer and owner), the CM is involved with estimating the cost of constructing a project based on the goals of the designer and owner (design concept) and the project's scope. In balancing the costs, schedule, quality and scope of the project, the design may be modified instead of redesigned; if the owner decides to expand the project, adjustments can be made before pricing. To manage the budget before design is complete and construction crews mobilized, the CM conducts site management and purchases major items to efficiently manage time and cost.
An at-risk delivery method is best for large projects—both complete construction and renovation—that are not easy to define, have a possibility of changing in scope, or have strict schedule deadlines. Additionally, it is an efficient method in projects containing technical complexity, multi-trade coordination, or multiple phases.
Starting with its Accelerated Bridge Program in the late 2000s, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation began employing accelerated construction techniques, in which it signs contracts with incentives for early completion and penalties for late completion, and uses intense construction during longer periods of complete closure to shorten the overall project duration and reduce cost.