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Difference between Contract Manager and Project Manager

Both Contract and Project Managers play vital roles in business firms as managerial professionals. While they share similarities, they have different specialisations, skill sets and responsibilities. Those who wish to pursue a managerial role must wonder, what is the difference between a Contract Manager and Project Manager? Or which is the right choice for you? Well! If you are one among them, you’re at the right place.  

According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a Project Manager and Contract Manager is £51,748 and £52,508 per annum, respectively. If you also wish to approach one of these promising careers, this blog can help you learn the differences and details of these roles. Here we discuss the key differences between Contract Managers and Project Managers, including their responsibilities and skill sets.     

Table of Contents 

1) Contract Manager vs Project Manager: Role and responsibilities   

2) Contract Manager vs Project Manager: Skills 

3) Contract Manager vs Project Manager: Characteristics 

4) Contract Manager vs Project Manager: Which is the right choice? 

5) Conclusion 

Contract Manager vs Project Manager: Role and responsibilities 

The first difference between a Project and Contract Manager is their roles and responsibilities. While the former closely works with a team and different groups of people to overlook the completion of the project, the latter works with legal firms. As a result, they have different responsibilities and roles in an organisation. 

Role & responsibilities in Contract Management 

Contract Managers are responsible for the Contract Lifecycle once a contract has been negotiated and drafted. The initial process of such a contract is normally performed by a contract administration team which works closely with the manager. The manager performs these duties if an organisation is small-scale and doesn't have a contract administration team.   

Contract Managers work closely with the legal team within an organisation due to the legal obligation a contract must follow. They are expected to have deep knowledge of the risks and consequences of an organisation's contract. This includes analysing minor agreement details such as milestones, deadlines and cancellation or termination requirements. 

Role & responsibilities in Project Management 

Project Managers are often a part of the contracting process. However, that is not their key responsibility. They focus on developing a project, overseeing it to completion and ensuring it does not lose focus from the project’s original goal. They oversee the project team's work and decide the project's budget and deadlines.   

Project Managers are responsible for guiding the team working on a project to meet the requirements of clients and stakeholders. They keep track of the project’s status from beginning to end, monitoring every task performed and milestones achieved. Additionally, if a team member faces a problem or a crisis during the project, the manager is expected to find a solution. 

Learn to administrate contracts between enterprises with Contract Management Training! 

Contract Manager vs Project Manager: Skills 

Contract and Project managers must be highly detail-oriented, monitoring and guiding the process to completion. They both are expected to develop strategies based on the project or contract lifecycle and make necessary changes to meet goals. However, their specific skills vary significantly from each other. 

Skills in Contract Management 

Some common skills managers require in this role include negotiation skills, attention to minor details and risk assessment. Any instance of a manager overlooking minor details within a contract can lead to future disputes or the termination of a contract. The ability to negotiate also greatly affects how well two different parties take a contract.   

The ability to negotiate allows Contract Managers to get maximum value for their organisation in any contract. Additionally, the ability to assess risk at earlier stages allows them to build specialised contracts that cater to the need of all parties involved in the contract. 

Skills in Project Management 

Project Management requires an individual to be highly organised, ensuring they allot the right task to the right people. This allows them to get the best of the team they have while still adhering to the deadlines and assigned schedules. Project Management requires a manager to be technologically informed, so they can use the best Project Management software to make the process easier and more effective.   

Certain software like Primavera P6 and MS Project can help a manager communicate with the entire team. This allows them to monitor the team's activities better, assign new tasks, and check the work status. 

Gain familiarity with negotiation skills with our Contract Negotiation Training! 

Contract Manager vs Project Manager: Characteristics 

Certain characteristics of a manager can make them stand out as an excellent manager. These characteristics refer to the traits and skills an individual gains outside their work environment. These characteristics can aid them in efficiently managing their everyday tasks. 

Characteristics of Contract Manager 

Some common characteristics of an excellent Contract Manager are as follows: 

1) Ability to manage time: Seeing a Contract Lifecycle through competition often takes time, leaving a manager with free time. Ideally, a Contract Manager can utilise this time efficiently. Rather than sitting idle, they can multi-task within this time frame leading to greater efficiency and task completion. 

2) Savviness for technology: Relying on software when working for a large-scale company with high-risk contracts is common. Understanding and interest in software and technology aid a person in the Contract Management process. 

3) Navigating through compliance: Good knowledge of laws and guidelines laid by governing plays a key role in drafting a good contract. This keeps an organisation in compliance with governing bodies, especially for the finance and healthcare industries. 

Characteristics of Project Manager 

Some common characteristics of a good Project Manager are as follows: 

1) Leadership: A Project Manager is supposed to work closely with team members. In these situations, one’s ability to lead a group can make a significant difference. Knowing how to motivate those working with you is imperative in these situations, resulting in greater productivity. 

2) Problem-solving: A manager in this role will frequently face problems on a project or with team members. The ability to solve these problems and develop solutions so the project doesn’t meet a standstill is vital for project development. Additionally, the ability to predict problems beforehand will give you an edge in Project Management. 

3) Delegation of task: A team consists of individuals with strengths and weaknesses, and a manager can make the best of these strengths. Checking which task is assigned to which person allows a manager to get the most optimum project results. Additionally, this helps you avoid hindrances to the development process due to confusion among team members. 

Try our Introduction to Project Management Certification Course today! 

Contract Manager vs Project Manager: Which is the right choice? 

Let's compare these roles with the table below based on the requirements and responsibilities of the Project Manager vs the Contract Manager. 

Project Manager vs Contract Manager

Additionally, both these roles have good salary prospects, as demonstrated in the salary table below. 

Project Manager vs Contract Manager

Both these roles have their respective duties. However, your skills and preference will play a big part when choosing either of these as a profession. 

Contract Management Training


Concluding the differences between the Contract Manager vs Project Manager blog, we would like to give some final words. This blog discussed the difference in roles and responsibilities while highlighting the necessary skills for these roles. Hopefully, this blog will aid you in making a more informed choice if you wish to pursue one of these careers. Thank you for reading. 

Master the art of Project Management with our Project Management Masterclass! 

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