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A project manager is appointed by a client who has a project that requires to be implemented. It is the project managers duty to solely represent the client and ensure that all decisions and actions are in the clients best interests. The project manager should ideally be involved at the earliest possible time and his role is to communicate, lead, organise and delegate from inception of the project to completion of the project. The project manager must communicate primarily with the client, and subsequently lead and organise everyone who has an input on the project based on the clients needs. The project managers duties don't stop there, organisation includes project timeframe and a programme of work detailing how the work is carried out. The project manager must delegate any activities or responsibilities to appropriate personnel such as notifying a plumber that a heating pipe requires relocating. It is not the clients responsibility to tell the contractors what to do, it is the project managers role under the clients instructions.
Project managers are employed by clients to save them money, time and hassle. Many clients are unaware and unsure of construction procedures, building design, construction costs, building contracts and particularly, managing a project. The project manager at the inception stage of the project, i.e stage 'A' of the RIBA plan of work, can partake in discussions with the client to obtain the clients ideas, objectives and needs of the project. This will include primarily, a budget, a timescale, a brief outline of their design requirements such as metres squared of office space or number of seats in a football stadium. As the client may have had ideas regarding this project for a period of time now, it will be likely they have a particular 'design scheme' in mind, and the feasibility of this 'scheme' can be discussed with the project manager to ensure that client has a realistic design within their desired budget.
In Japan it is very common for a client to seek a design from a building contractor, as opposed to the UK where an architect would be appointed in the first instance and a contractor at a later date. This method has both positive and negative points that are worth mentioning. As we know here in the UK, from taking an integrated approach to the supply chain as described in BRE Digest 450, partnership can be a very efficient method of project procurement as the contractor has a say in the practicality of design etc at the beginning. This in theory is no different in Japan except the process is carried out by the majority, rather than the minority here in the UK. As the design is contractor designed, it is very practical using standardised components or modular construction which gives the contractor an extremely buildable project. Generally due to the practicality and standardisation of this method, many of the buildings appear to be very similar lacking attractive intricate details and finesse. Although in the opinion of many the designs are unexciting, this design and build method sets parameters of the clients need, quality, budget and timescale. This therefore enables the chosen contractor to design a building with the intention to ensuring that it can be built to the clients desired quality, on time and on budget. Design and build is widely used in the UK but with the lack of standardisation and a simplistic approach to design, cost and time over runs are always inevitable. Japan generally is a quality driven nation and the construction industry within Japan is no different. The contractor market is controlled by the 'big six', six major construction firms which share long term relationships with their clients, suppliers, specialist contractors, general contractors and sub contractors. The Japanese construction industry is extremely efficient and the "construction industry operates with stealth, precision and control of a ninja"  .
In the USA, the construction process differs dramatically from both the UK and Japan and subsequently the role of the project manager differs too. The client or developer is generally producing high rise buildings, not for occupation but as a financial investment. It is their role produce these large scale buildings at lightning speeds with as low a cost as possible. As a lot of clients are developers with excellent knowledge of the industry, they take the leading role. The architects main role in the project is purely to come up with an outline proposal to meet the clients requirements of appearance, layout and budget. It is not the role of the architect to produce working drawings or detailed design, this is the role of the project engineer. The engineer takes the design and develops it with regard to construction & services. In the USA specialist contractors are used to design their own components and install them themselves which ensures there is no conflict which might have been encountered with the main contractor installing an unfamiliar product. Similarly to Japan, a lot of prefabrication is used with the design of a building, for example standardised computer generated components which can be easily be duplicated and altered if necessary rather than drawing everything from scratch. Due to this standardised system full construction drawings can be produced very quickly and there is more certainty of project costing and timescale. Coordination of the project initially is the responsibility of the client. The design stages are organised by the engineer and sometimes the architect. The project manager or construction manager as they are referred to in the USA is responsible for organising the specialist contractors work.
Having researched project management generally, it is evident in my opinion that there is a great benefit in having a project manager on board in a construction project. However having also researched in more detail the ins and outs of project management in the USA & Japan, and comparing it to practice in the UK, it is evident that the differing construction processes in each country dramatically affect the role and responsibilities of the project manager. The benefits of a project manager are endless and in my opinion, the whole scope of the project managers work is all a benefit to both the client and the contractor even though he is solely representing the client. The project manager is the middle man between the client and the rest of the project contributors. It is a benefit to the client as complex decisions are required when managing a construction site and knowing the lingo is extremely important. Unfortunately it would seem that in the UK the clients are not overly experienced with construction therefore its vital that they employ someone who can translate the terms into English and explain the pros and cons, for example, pros and cons of different options available. This role may be possible to be fulfilled by an architect however the main difference between an architect and a project manager is the project manager spends most of his time on construction sites and has greater experience in project programming, cost implications and construction techniques. The project manager is a benefit to the contractor as with his expertise, solutions to construction issues can be discussed and his advice may be beneficial for speed, cost or even just general ideas.
Ultimately it is evident that custom and practice in different countries does affect the role and responsibilities of the project manager. It is crucial for a inexperienced client to have a professional such as a project manager from the beginning of the project if the client wants the project to be finished to his desired quality, on time and on budget.