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The Roles & Responsibilities of a Commercial Project Manager

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A commercial project manager identifies and implements business opportunities, manages operating costs, negotiates contracts, enhances adherence to applicable laws, writes inspection reports and markets projects. To qualify for this position, you need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree in project management, engineering, business administration, information systems or a related field. You also might need to fulfill state-specific licensing requirements if you work in fields such as construction.

Identifying Opportunities

A commercial project manager identifies investment opportunities. For example, a commercial project manager working in a real estate firm may assess a middle-class neighborhood to determine whether investing in rental houses or shopping malls can be profitable (See Ref.2). If senior managers approve the idea, the project manager leads the planning, which involves establishing schedules, finding potential investors and setting objectives. When a project is in progress, an effective commercial project manager identifies and mitigates risks and may design strategies to improve current management practices.

Negotiating Contracts

Managers with excellent negotiation skills can help companies secure profitable deals with contractors. As a commercial project manager, it’s your duty to establish and maintain good working relationships with service providers, project owners and investors. If your employer secures a government contract to construct a road, for instance, you can negotiate with state officials to ensure the financial terms meet the company’s interests. A good commercial project manager has the ability to build consensus across a team of contract negotiators.

Managing Costs

Because improper management of a business project can lead to time and cost extensions -- which perhaps were unplanned for -- a commercial project manager must have strong financial management skills. For example, if a university contracts an energy firm to install solar panels, the company’s commercial project manager uses his financial skills to ensure the job is completed within the allocated budget. Before a project begins, you can collaborate with your team to compile estimates to account for all labor and material costs, establish cost controls, keep accurate records and update your forecasts regularly to accommodate changes.

Maintaining Compliance

Maintaining adherence to relevant federal and state laws and institutional policies is key to successful completion of a project. When a construction company is building rental properties, for instance, the commercial project manager must ensure the firm adheres to state-specific labor laws that regulate employment of workers, minimum wage and payment of wages. He also may secure construction permits and licenses from federal and local agencies. To enhance compliance, a good commercial project manager monitors changes in relevant laws and inspects work progress regularly to identify violations.


Based in New York City, Alison Green has been writing professionally on career topics for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in “U.S. News Weekly” magazine, “The Career” magazine and “Human Resources Journal.” Green holds a master's degree in finance from New York University.

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