In Germany, two terms are often confused with one another: project manager (Projektmanager) and project controller (Projektsteuerer). Let me explain below the difference between the two.
Project manager is one of the most well-known terms, but let’s go through their specific responsibilities regardless. The project manager does everything that the “projektsteuerer” does, plus more. The project manager is usually present from the very beginning of the task and is responsible for all efforts needed to complete the project successfully.
They will organize, consult, control, and actively participate in the construction process. The main 3 items they need to keep under control are costs, quality, and time. Often, the project manager will find reliable partners to work with, help finetune the contracts, check the designs, handle tendering, and finally, construction management.
Most of the time, project managers have considerable decision-making freedom.
The “Projektsteuerer” or project controller can be seen as a consultant to the client. They can’t make any decisions without the client. The ‘Projektsteuerer’ also has the 3 main items in mind (costs, quality, and time), but he can only consult the client on how to continue forward without actively making his own decisions. The ‘Projektsteuerer’ is often an experienced individual whose primary role is to distribute knowledge among the team without taking on project management tasks.
Bonus Term: Projektleiter
The Germans love their terms, so we’ve got another one for you: the Projektleiter (loosely translated: project leader). The “Projektleiter” is often someone who works for a general contractor (or another type of contractor). The “Projektleiter” is responsible for leading his team to successful project completion.
Even though the terms project manager and project leader are sometimes used for the same person, I personally think that a project manager is an external manager who oversees the entire project for the client and the project leader is the project manager for one of the contractors.
Picking the right project manager…