Untangling the Terms: Understanding the Difference Between Project Development and Project Management

project management vs project development


When it comes to the successful execution of a project, the terms “project development” and “project management” often surface in the discussion. Although they might sound synonymous, they are distinct disciplines with unique roles, responsibilities, and impacts on the project’s success. This article delves into the difference between project development and management, highlighting their distinctive attributes and interconnected relationships.

The Cornerstones: Project Management and Project Development

Project Management: The Backbone of a Successful Project

Project management is a meticulously orchestrated discipline that ensures projects are completed on time, within budget, and the established scope. The primary goal is to accomplish the desired objectives efficiently, utilizing various project elements, such as time, cost, quality, scope, and risk management.

The project manager is responsible for handling these aspects of your project, acting as the backbone ensuring a successful project outcome. They must efficiently coordinate resources, solve problems, make decisions, and handle stakeholder communication. They are also responsible for quality management, guaranteeing that the project output meets the set standards and expectations.

The project manager coordinates all stages in a construction project, from planning and design to construction and closing. Their role is supervising construction and ensuring that the project is progressing as planned and solving any issues that arise.

Project Development: Setting the Stage

project development setting the stage

On the other hand, project development is an upstream process that precedes project management. It focuses on creating a viable project that aligns with an organization’s strategic goals and stakeholders’ expectations. The developer plays an instrumental role in shaping the project, its objectives, and its initial plan.

This phase includes conducting feasibility studies, defining project requirements, estimating costs, securing financing, and more. For instance, in a construction project, the developer is instrumental in identifying suitable land, securing necessary permits, performing environmental assessments, and creating the initial design.

Comparative Study: Differentiating Elements of Project Development and Project Management

While there is a significant overlap between the two disciplines, the primary difference lies in their focus and objectives.

Management Focuses on Execution

Project management focuses on executing the plan prepared during the project development phase. The project manager must ensure the successful delivery of the project using a systematic approach that efficiently manages resources, risks, and changes. In doing so, the manager oversees the coordination of people, processes, and technology.

Development Lays the Groundwork

Contrarily, project development focuses on setting the stage for the project. It involves creativity, feasibility studies, and securing necessary resources and approvals. The developer ensures that the proposed project aligns with the organization’s strategic goals and creates a roadmap for the project manager to follow.

Interplay Between Project Development and Project Management

interplay between project management and project developement

While distinct, project development and project management are not isolated. The output of the development phase be it a project charter, scope statement, or project plan is what the project manager uses as a guideline for execution. The manager ensures the project aligns with the developer’s vision, maintaining the project’s quality and intent throughout the lifecycle.

Similarly, the project developer must understand the project manager’s capabilities and constraints to develop a feasible and practical project plan. If the developer is disconnected from the realities of project execution, the resultant project may be impossible to manage efficiently, leading to project failure.

Key Takeaways

Understanding the difference between project development and management is crucial for successfully delivering any project. While project development lays the groundwork for the project, project management focuses on executing the plan and managing the project’s dynamic elements.

Although distinct, the roles of a project manager and a project developer are interconnected, each influencing the other’s effectiveness. A project manager must accurately execute the project developed by the developer, while the developer must consider the execution challenges during project planning.

In the grand scheme of projects, whether a construction project or a corporate initiative, the careful interplay between project development and project management paves the way for a successful project.