In the property and construction sector, the project manager and development manager role titles are often used interchangeably given no official distinction exists between them…yet they are very different roles.

To put it simply, development management is a specialist form of project management with a focus on property development for profit. Whereas traditionally speaking, project management is project-delivery focused only and can be applied to any “project”.

At the end of the day, regardless of what the actual role is called, it’s important to know the emphasis, skillset and management approach so you can decide what role you need.

With this in mind, let’s look at the differences a bit closer….

Project Manager (PM)

A project manager is hired someone to deliver a clearly defined project. The project in question is not delivered for profit in a standalone sense. Instead, it’s the service within the building that generates revenue (hotel, office) or serves the wider public (courthouse, police station, hospital, school). Additionally, delivery project managers are often hired to complete a particular stage of a project only i.e. contract administration over construction stage, managing the design team to complete a feasibility study, or managing the construction supply chain to build out a project.

Depending on their skillset, delivery project managers usually work consultancy side serving several clients, or contractor side delivering many construction projects.

Development Manager (DM)

A development manager provides a property development focused type of project management. Here, the land/buildings being developed for sale or lease produce the profit, rather than the service. So this project management approach requires strong skill and knowledge of site selection, financial appraisals, development strategy selection, feasibility studies, planning applications, procurement and implementing construction through to the ultimate purpose: the sale/lease of land/buildings for profit.

Development management expertise is often delivered in client-side environments where the land/assets are owned. Examples include property developer organisations, family offices and the public sector where revenue needs to be raised through property development to fund other infrastructure. Alternatively, the service could be provided by external consultancies or property developers.

Like any client side project management role, development management is more strategic with a 360-degree view across all work stages, rather than a single stage.

Knowing the difference between project management and development management is crucial to selecting the right person for your required set of circumstances.

Here at North Point Property Group, we are first and foremost, development managers.  We manage all aspects of design, construction and delivery. Our highly professional team provides unparalleled levels of accountability, immersing themselves within the operations as attention to detail is paramount to the ideals of the organisation.