If you are recruiting for a Project Manager and speaking to a recruitment agency, you need to be clear about whether the role will be on the client-side or the supplier-side, as there are some distinct differences. If you are looking for a new role, it can be beneficial to understand the differences, so you can ascertain which option will be most suitable for you.

In this post we explore the main distinctions between a client-side project manager and a supplier-side Project Manager.


A client-side Project Manager has a preventative role and works to ensure the delivery organisation and project are aligned to the needs of the client. They are hired to mitigate the risk of anything preventing the supplier from delivering the project and look for external constraints that could pose problems. The key skills for this role include:

  • Stakeholder Management – The ideal candidate will be able to understand and influence people in the organisation. They should be able to manage stakeholders and get them onboard with the IT programme, despite concerns they may have.
  • Inquisitive – As with the supplier-side, the ability to spot risks is important for the client-side Project Manager; albeit in a different way. The Project Manager should be thinking “systems” and looking at stakeholders or process which could affect the project.
  • Process Driven – It is essential to be able to create process efficiencies so that parties that interoperate in quick ways to fulfil the purpose of the programme. This is an important skill to have because programmes can often have a large number of suppliers, who have their own commercial goals. As a result, alignment can be lacking.


A supplier-side Project Manager is focused on analysing the problem and plan for delivering the work. The supplier-side Project Manager will look for technical constraints that may affect the delivery of the work. Therefore, those who are technical experts would be more suited to this role. The key skills for this role include:

  • Results-focused – This role requires someone who is focused on the end goal and is used to working to targets. As they will need to deliver a plan of work, they must be highly motivated to achieve results.
  • Inquisitive – An inquisitive mind is most suited to this Project Manager role. The ideal candidate would be someone who spots risks and issues, and asks the right questions to understand technical problems which could affect the work being undertaken.
  • Resource planning – There is a need to plan for resources on the supplier-side. The Project Manager must make sure that resources are there when needed, to ensure the project is completed. This is something a supplier-side Project Manager should be experienced in.

Broadly speaking, a client-side Project Manager needs to have an “away from” orientation. They must ensure that nothing comes in the way of the programme. Alternatively, a supplier-side Project Manager needs to have a “towards” orientation. Their role is to move the programme towards delivery. Whether you want to work on the client-side or supplier-side will depend on your skills and your goals.

If you are looking to recruit, or you are a candidate looking for further information, you can contact us on info@mindfulcontract.co.uk to discuss in more detail. If you want to discover how to make the most of your client-side teams click here. Find more of our blogs here.