Last time we introduced you to the notion of quality in Project Management. In that article we said that quality should be the norm, but also that the standard of quality you can work to will, to some extent, be determined by the budget available to you to make the job fit for purpose. So, is it ever possible to be in a situation as a Project Manager where quality is negotiable?
Quality is being more than fit for purpose.
There is, of course, an inherent problem in accepting a quality standard that merely says the job is fit for purpose. Being fit for purpose will mean that the owner of the project will be satisfied with the eventual outcome, but how soon will it be before they begin to think things like “what if that fitting were more aesthetic” or “what if the software had incorporated …” etc. A simple way around this is by ensuring that you fully cover the five elements of planning with the client in the first place and, perhaps most importantly here, “make the resources you order realistic in quantity and quality”! This means knowing exactly what is crucial to the success of the project and then being able to add an extra level of quality – over and above those things. But that will only bring us back to the point about how budget restraints can affect the final quality of a project. So, here you need to get the client to discuss and agree with you where any ‘improvements’ in quality should be prioritized.
But, is quality negotiable?
So, returning to our original question – is quality negotiable, well in short yes, but with a caveat. As the Project Manager it is your responsibility to ensure that the clients’ expectations can be met, so if their expectations are unattainable – don’t be afraid to unequivocally say so. Having said that, as Project Manager you must extract from the client exactly what it is that is most important to them, so that you are not left trying to guess what it is exactly they want in terms of the quality of the completed job. You can then be quite clear with the client the minimum level of quality you will deliver, along with a negotiated set of further quality objectives – to be delivered as the budget permits.