Project quality management, part three: Project planning
This is the third article in our series on a project quality management approach that incorporates a project quality manager on the team and the use of a project quality work plan. This installment focuses on project planning during project initiation. The planning process is transparent and includes the development of a shared project execution plan that is prepared by the design professional with input and approval from the client. This includes adherence to the project quality work plan prepared during the proposal phase of the project (See part 2 of the series).
As discussed in the first article of the series, this quality management system (QMS) model includes four primary roles. These roles are integral to the model:
Senior manager – In this model, the senior manager’s primary overall responsibilities are quality leadership and accountability. Their primary project responsibilities are staffing and client satisfaction.
Project quality manager – Assigned to a specific project, the quality manager’s role is to advise and mentor the project manager. They verify that project work has not only been completed but completed to meet the firm’s standard of quality. They do not assume responsibility or authority over the project manager.
Project manager – The project manager bears primary responsibility for planning, implementing and monitoring project quality (except for project staffing/resource management).
Project team – This includes everyone who touches the project, including architects, engineers, designers, and CAD and administrative staff. While the project team does not have primary responsibility for the overall project quality, team members do own the quality of the work they complete on the project.
Remember, in this model, the project quality manager is likely a new role for A/E firm projects. Typically, the responsibilities of this role fall to senior staff (e.g., principals, partners, senior managers, department managers, senior discipline leads, senior technical reviewer) who may have other roles on the project. In this model, however, the project quality manager is a separate project role with a singular focus on all aspects of project quality.
Your proposal was a success and your firm was awarded the project, with you as the project manager. Your client, your boss and the project team are eager to begin work. Now you need to transition from successfully winning the project to successfully executing it. This requires time in upfront planning. As a project manager, you know that the time you spend planning the work, before actually beginning the work, is critical.
Strong planning establishes a proactive path to successful project outcomes. You’re not hired just to complete a project, you’re hired for myriad ultimate outcomes: a new school gymnasium, a business expansion, housing, water treatment, roadway improvements, etc. Clear project goals, well-defined client expectations and an engaged team all benefit from upfront planning. A project management plan (PMP) is a concise planning document you can use for consistently initiating all projects in your organization. The PMP is similar in scope and content to project charters used in project management methods such as Agile, Six Sigma and PMI’s PMBOK (Project Management Institute’s Project Management Book of Knowledge).