As a Project Manager you undoubtedly already feel under enough pressure to deliver your project on time and within budget. Add to those two things the often dreaded term – quality of delivery and it conjures up all sorts of customer expectations that could seem beyond all sense of realism. So what should your approach to the ‘quality’ of the delivery be?
Quality should be the ‘norm’.
If a customer should start talking to you about the quality that they expect the final delivery to show, this really shouldn’t come as a great surprise. No one wants to take delivery of a project on time and in budget if two weeks later something fails due to a basic fault with the inherent quality. Therefore, at the planning stage if the customer hasn’t already clearly stated their expected outcomes in terms of the quality of the final product delivered – it is your job as the Project Manager to set, or at least suggest, the quality parameters that you will be working to. Or, put more simply, delivering a project on time and in budget is one thing – delivering a project on time and within budget to take pride in can be quite another. Thus working to standards of quality needs to be your normal mode of operation.
If you’re project managing a house build and the customer only budgets for stainless steel faucets then complains that they’re not gold plated ones – he or she can’t complain to you about their quality. Which is a very simplistic way of saying that the quality standards that you are able to work to will always be determined by the budget at your proposal. However, two important points arise from that. First that it is your responsibility to ensure the very best materials and staff are employed that the budget will allow and, secondly, that you must make clear in your planning and reporting exactly what the customer can expect in terms of their perception of the quality of the finished product. Or, to be a bit more technical – determine what is ‘fit for purpose’.