The Key Differences Between Construction Administration and Construction Management

Ever wonder what differentiates construction administration from construction management? While there are similarities and overlaps between the two terms, their specific differences could impact your search for the right construction software.

Construction Administration vs. Construction Management: What’s the difference?

If you were to crack open a dictionary to define the difference between these two terms, you wouldn’t find much. That’s not to say they can’t be defined, but that definitions often vary from attempt to attempt. While the terms are not interchangeable, there is some significant overlap between them that can cause confusion.

From our point of view, both terms relate to different aspects of delivering a completed construction project. Construction management is a broader term and often used in more generic situations than construction administration, sometimes even to encompass the latter term. Here’s how we differentiate the two:

Construction Management: The overall planning, coordination, and control of a construction project through all phases from conception to completion.

Construction Administration: The oversight and execution of a construction contract during the preconstruction and construction phases of a project.

As you read these definitions, you may notice two clear points of separation between the two. Construction management focuses primarily on project completion during all phases of a construction project, whereas construction administration focuses on contract completion during the preconstruction and construction phases of a project.

Project Roles for Construction Administration and Construction Management

Like snowflakes and fingerprints, no two construction projects are exactly alike. Titles and responsibilities vary depending on what works best for the project, owner, and other stakeholders. That said, construction administration and construction management roles usually fall into one of these two categories.

Construction AdministrationConstruction Management
TitleLead Engineer, Construction Project Manager, Construction Contract Administrator, A/ELead Contractor, Construction Project Manager, Foreman
ResponsibilitiesReviews submittals and inspection reports, keeps track of materials and costs, acts as a go-between for owner and contractorOversees and hires subcontractors, ensures jobs run on schedule, manages construction
GoalExecuting a unit/price contract effectively and in-budgetDelivering a final constructed product to the owner

You may notice some similarities in the table above. A Construction Project Manager may be responsible for administration activities on one project and management activities on another. The important differentiator to remember is the goal for each area. In construction management, a lead contractor is managing the construction of the project from start to finish. In construction administration, a lead engineer is responsible for administering the signed contract and ensuring the project is moving forward towards the owner’s desired result. If you’re still having trouble telling them apart, this might help: construction administration is often referred to as construction contract administration in situations where brevity isn’t necessary.

Finding the Right Construction Administration Software

Why is it so important to understand the differences between construction administration and construction management? As e-Construction continues to be the centerpiece of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) ongoing initiatives, agencies and firms are on the lookout for software that can streamline and improve manual processes. The challenge? Terminology often varies from product to product and the search for the right solution can be overwhelming. For example, construction engineering and inspection (CEI), construction contract administration (CCA), and construction contract administration and inspection (CCAI) can all refer to tools used for construction administration purposes.

To find the software that works for you, we recommend searching for the functions of your job that you would like to streamline or automate. If you work in owner’s representation as an engineer and you’re having trouble maintaining project records or managing payments, you are probably looking for construction administration software. Searching for “construction audit trail software” or “daily report management software” will yield results that are specific to your needs. The e-Construction industry is still working to define itself, so our advice is to skip the overarching terminology and look for what you know will help your organization.

Appia® for Construction Administration & Inspection

If you are looking for software that’s specific to unit cost/price contracts on heavy civil infrastructure projects, Appia might be the right solution for you. Appia was built to fill a specific niche in the horizontal construction industry - owner’s representation. While our software is used by owners, our most active users are engineering consultants that work for state and local agencies on infrastructure projects.

Appia enables consultants to deliver a final product to owners by streamlining processes in the office and the field. It’s built to help owners and their representatives administer contracts by generating pay estimates, keeping records, and managing complex funding. We see the connection between the field and office as crucial, so Appia also includes robust inspection and daily reporting tools for field personnel. For more information on Appia, see how it helps teams thrive in the different scenarios below.

Common Construction Administration and Inspection Issues

Old-school paper processes were holding the City of Meriden back as they struggled with duplicated effort, long-term storage, and errors in records.Appia allows the city and their consultant to file daily reports, contract items, and other necessary project information in an easily-accessible cloud database. Read the case study
The team at engineering consultancy RS&H often spent hours researching old files when they need to resolve a dispute with a contractor.With Appia, RS&H can query project data and find the information they need in minutes, vastly expediting project close-out. Read the case study
Prime A/E is an engineering firm that works on large projects with a complex mix of funding from federal, state, local, and private entities. Managing pay items was a nightmare.Complex pay item tracking in Appia saves innumerable hours of tabulating quantities and reviewing work performed by the contractor. Read the case study
The field personnel at SSR, Inc. had to travel from the field to the office every time they needed to enter their daily report data.Mobile-accessibility means Appia is used in the field to capture data at the source, ensuring accuracy and saving time. Read the case study
When it came to problems on projects, Hancock County was at the whim of the daily report and the inspector’s own timeline for sending that data over.Real-time collaboration in Appia means the County Engineer at Hancock County can react to problems as they’re happening. Read the case study

Appia for Construction Administration and Inspection

Interested in learning more about cloud-based software for construction project managers, consultants, and inspectors? Appia helps teams streamline and automate their processes in one intuitive, mobile-accessible platform.
infotech logo