What is the relevance of the Project Manager


in the context of an employer’s influence

on the construct of the project delivery team?



By Trevor Mpatsi

Johannesburg, South Africa

Where are the Construction Project managers?

Is the role of an independent Project Manager relevant anymore considering that there has been a visible increase in employers deploying their own internal Project Managers and assigning the Principal Agency to other professional team members?  The role of the Principal Agent is now being spread across professional team members and it is no longer uncommon for the Principal Agent role to be removed from the Project Managers role.

What then is the relevance of an external Project Manager and/or Principal Agent if the employer further appoints an internal Project Manager?  Who guards’ the guards’ the adage goes.

With the current set-up of construction projects whereby a client employs both internal and external Project Managers to execute their projects, yet project success is fraught with difficulty, the question posed herein is to where the interventions employed by clients to force the deliverables they seek speaks to a systemic failure by those employed to deliver on their mandate.

Furthermore, and more importantly, is this indicative of a dearth of trust on the Principal Agent and Project Manager and/or professional team to deliver accordingly thus forcing the employer to proactively impose a delivery structure they believe will mitigate the potential risk of failure?

Do our clients still trust us?

Within the built environment is an/are agent(s) broadly described as the Project Manager and a Principal Agents’ whose “job is to get people to do certain things in accordance with their appointment.  The nature of project teams as they are assembled is through some manner of procurement process, is that they are often thrust into a project (sometimes haphazardly) and are subject to the deliverables as required by the employer and enshrined in their appointment letter and contract.  Within this newfound relationship, an advocate for the project is further elected and would carry the title of Principal Agent and/or Employers representative.

The relationship described above is consistent with the forms of contract typically applied within the South African context e.g. NEC, JBCC, GCC et.al.  The relationship is managed by a Project Sponsor who is an individual (often a manager or executive) with overall accountability for the project. He or she is primarily concerned with ensuring that the project delivers the agreed upon business benefits and acts as the representative of the organization, playing a vital leadership (Schibi, n.d.)[1].  In addition, or as an alternative, it has now become common place for institutions to appoint an internal Project Manager as well to manage the project on the employer’s behalf as discussed in the introduction.


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Editor’s note: This article is based on a presentation by the author at the 2022 Project Management South Africa (PMSA) Annual Conference in November 2022.  Article coordinated by PMSA, who approved its publication in the PMWJ.

How to cite this article: Mpatsi, T. (2023).  What is the relevance of the Project Manager in the context of an employer’s influence on the construct of the project delivery team? PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue V, May.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/pmwj129-May2023-Mpatsi-what-is-relevance-of-the-project-manager.pdf

About the Author

Trevor Mpatsi

Johannesburg, South Africa


Trevor Mpatsi, Pr.CPM, MCIOB, MRICS is an accomplished South African based Construction project Manager with an extensive background in the built environment sector.  With over 20 years of experience in the SADC region, he has specialized in developing and constructing retail, commercial, industrial, and educational facilities. Trevor has a proven track record of successfully delivering projects in these sectors.

As the Founder and Director of Trevor Mpatsi & Associates, a boutique Project Management firm in the built environment sector, Trevor has established himself as a thought leader in the industry. He brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and experience to the table, making him a valuable asset to any project.

Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Trevor can be contacted at trevormpatsi@gmail.com or on LinkedIn