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The differences between a Development Manager and a Project Manager. Generalist vs Specialist.

Development Manager, Project Manager – same thing right? Not really.

We often see the two terms Development Manager and Project Manager interchanged when discussing the roles and responsibilities within a Property Development Project. In some part you can understand the generalisation of the two roles and the perception that they are in fact one and the same. That being said, there are a few distinct differences between the traditional role of a Project Manager and that of a Development Manager.

The traditional role of a Project Manager (Specialist) is typically that of driving the deliverable outcome, usually construction, of a project. A Project Manager will be heavily focused on managing every detail of the construction of the project including documentation, coordination, tender, procurement, contract, programme and cost. Generally this would include Contract Administration of the construction contract and performing the functions of a Superintendent under same. The Project Manager has a very specialist role within the project ensuring that all moving parts within the construction contract are delivered in accordance with a multitude of approvals, timeframes and budgets, generally summarised as Time, Cost and Quality. They will also possess a high degree of technical ability in their respective fields, likely to come from a construction, engineering or architecture background.

The Development Manager (Generalist) has a more overarching approach and is considering the overall development perspective at all times. This could include all matters relating to the project from site identification and acquisition, design, town planning, development application and approval, project feasibility and financing, construction tender selection and appointment, project budget and cashflow, sales and marketing and all legal requirements. The Development Manager must understand the intricate connection between each part of the development process and how each decision will impact later parts of the project whilst ensuring the overall development is delivered on budget, on time, to the desired standard whilst also achieving a commercial outcome. The Development Manager must ensure that they Optimise (not maximise… more on this later) project outcomes across all areas of the development, not anyone area overall.

The best designed project may not be the most suitable for the market conditions
Adding in that extra couple of lots or apartments may not actually increase project returns
or
Skimping on specifications, whilst saving costs but not actually achieve your forecast revenue targets.

All decisions that an experienced Development Manager must make throughout a project lifecycle. On larger projects it is not uncommon to have both a Development Manager running the overall project alongside a Project Manager/Superintendent to administer the construction contract.

When deciding which role is required for your project, you may want to consider:

  • Do we understand all the requirements to successfully deliver this project?
  • Do we have local experience?
  • Do we have the network of professional consultants, lawyers, real estate agents required?
  • Have we previously worked within the Council area and have a good understanding of their requirements?
  • Have we completed all required Due Diligence?
  • Have we obtained a realistic Development Approval?
  • Have we completed a realistic Project Feasibility?
  • Have we secured Project Funding?
  • Have we completed a project of this type/size before?
  • Have we got an appropriate exit strategy?

If you have answered yes to most of the above, then it is likely a Project Manager may be appropriate to oversee the construction of your next project, however if you are unsure about any of the above questions, then it is a very good indicator that you may need to engage a specialist Development Manager to oversee the successful delivery of your next development project. McAndrew Developments is a leading provider of Development Management and Advisory services assisting our clients across the full lifecycle of a development project.

Matt McAndrew
Director
0410 481 703
matt@mcandrewgroup.com.au