The difference between a true 3rd party project management firm vs. a broker provided project manager is simple:
Conflict-free. Brokerage firms make most of their revenue from lease transactions, and a third-party project manager earns 100% of theirs from project management services. If brokerage compensation depends on a transaction occurring, then will the broker’s project manager advise the client to make the best decision, even if that could delay or even cancel a large compensation for the broker? Not likely, since brokerages depend on these fees to stay in business. This is a perfect example of the fox watching the hen house. At the end of the day, is a broker-provided project manager looking out for the client’s best interests, or the broker’s? Clearly the latter, because the brokerage firm’s project manager is focused on how to get the transaction done, since this is the source of revenue. On the other hand, a third-party project manager, being truly independent and conflict free, can make decisions and help organizations make decisions based upon their best interests.
Core Competency. A brokerage firm is focused solely on broker/leasing services and project management is only as important as it needs to be to help the broker win commissions and/or support existing brokerage work. However, a third-party project management firm has project management as its core competency, and is therefore 100% focused on how to provide the best project management services possible to its clients, since this is the only service the firm provides and depends on for revenue, and has had specialized training and experience in. That alone should show you how much more efficiently that kind of project manager will manage the nuts and bolts of your project from start to finish than a project manager in a brokerage firm will.
Level of service. Because brokerage is the primary business focus a project manager in the office will not have the support and resources an independent project management firm has, and will focus primarily on sales and how to land more leases. Conversely, a third-party project management firm will spend all of its resources and training on project management services. Thus, such a firm’s office should be made up of several project managers with various types of expertise who can support each other and lend their respective backgrounds to different projects, whereas a brokerage consists mainly of brokers plus one or two project managers with limited resources.