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Quality Objectives in Project Management – Beauty is in The Eye of the Beholder!
By James Clements

I went to a Project Management group breakfast a couple of weeks ago and as part of the presentation, one of the speakers asked the group, “Who derives the benefit from a Project to build an Apartment Building?”

There were a few different answers, but his was unequivocally “The Tenant”. He advocated that as the end user of the apartments, the tenant should be the main focus for the Project Management Team and that ultimately, all project decisions should focus on this desired outcome.

I couldn’t help myself, I had to disagree, and in this blog post want to explore this a bit further.

Firstly, I do not disagree that the “The Tenant” does not derive benefit from the project, my problem with his answer is that it was too simplistic, and if he were the Project Manager for the Developer or the General Contractor sure to find himself under scrutiny.

Those who derive benefit from projects are the stakeholders and there are nearly always more than one stakeholder and some stakeholders don’t derive benefit at all, sometimes quite the opposite.

As Bid Managers and Project Managers we need to understand that in most, if not all projects, there will be multiple stakeholders and each of these stakeholders will have a different view of what “Quality” means.

Let’s consider some examples:

The Tenant

Of course the presenter was correct that the tenant is a major beneficiary of the project with: form, fit, function, location and facilities all needing to be considered when making project decisions.

The Owner/Developer

Is of course a beneficiary, some would consider the major beneficiary? They conceived the project, financed or arranged finance for the project and therefore seek a considerable return on their investment. Too great a focus on the tenant, will surely degrade the ROI of the Owner/Developer.

The Town Council

Needing to comply with their rules and regulations they become a major stakeholder to be considered in any development and their view of a quality outcome may be in attracting a certain demographic to the area and will also include compliance to their building code.

The Contractor

Generally the party that is required to undertake the most stakeholder management after winning the competitive tender, they must deliver the project within the constraints of Scope, Time, Cost & Quality all the while considering the needs of and being the go between for the Owner/Develop and Tenant and Town Council, delivering their expected benefits, not to mention any other interested parties, neighbors, special interest groups (those that may see the negative benefit in such a project), sub-contractors and suppliers, the list can be endless.

So how do we deal with all of these competing needs through Quality Objectives?

A way to look at it is through Quality Objectives. You need to try to define what each of the project stakeholders considers a “Quality Outcome” through a stakeholder analysis, which amongst other things seeks to define each stakeholder’s needs.

From this stakeholder analysis, as part of your Project Management Plan, your Project Quality Plan should define your project key performance indicators, or as they are better known your Quality Objectives.

Our Quality Objectives are a further breakdown of our Project Management Objectives that we defined in our Project Scope Definition, taking account of each project stakeholders “definition of quality” they need to be clearly defined, measurable objectives that guide your project team toward satisfying each of the diverse stakeholder needs and expectations.

James Clements, MBA, MPD has been managing, directing, winning projects and developing project management processes in diverse industries around the world for the past 20 years. You can contact James via his website here and you can read more from him on his blog.

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