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This is the fifth and final article in our series on a project quality management approach for architectural and engineering firms that incorporates a project quality manager on the team and the use of a project quality work plan. This installment focuses on project execution.

Implementing, monitoring, and successfully completing the project comprise the execution stage of your project, the stage at which all your planning will begin to pay off. The process of actively managing the project incorporates use of the project management plan (part 3 of the series) and adherence to the project quality work plan prepared during the proposal phase of the project (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:

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.

Roles and responsibilities during project execution
In this article, quality management roles and responsibilities during project execution will be detailed for four primary roles: project manager, project quality manager, project team, and reviewer.

Project manager: The project manager bears primary responsibility for project execution. They provide direction to enable the project team to fulfill project goals and requirements, including quality requirements. Here’s a breakdown of the project manager’s project execution-related responsibilities:

  • Monitoring:
    • Identifies potential project changes and manages the impact on and adjustments to the project
    • Completes regular project reviews to monitor performance and promptly take corrective action
    • Implementation:
      • Communicates updates on project progress and schedule and immediately notifies the project quality manager if risks, concerns, or issues arise
      • Conducts periodic meetings with clients and staff to discuss quality management objectives, deficiencies, or deviations due to project conditions
      • Data management – Is responsible for the accuracy and completeness of data, including taking corrective actions
      • Technical data – Leads discussions with project team to determine if the data collected will meet and support the project objectives
      • Technical reviews – Sees that the project follows the review system established in the project quality management plan and may spot check project calculations
      • Document control – Checks that project files are maintained during the project and all correspondence documented
      • Verifies (as appropriate):
        • Existing conditions at the project site are accurately shown in the plan
        • Project risks have been mitigated in the project plans and specifications
      • Confirms the following:
        • Multi-discipline teams receive all appropriate project data on time
        • Applicable criteria/standards are followed in accordance with the quality management plan
        • Project checks, checklists, calculation checks, raw data reviews, and field note verification are being completed
        • Appropriate intradisciplinary/ interdisciplinary reviews have been conducted
        • All reviewer comments/changes are appropriately addressed/resolved
The project manager enables the project team to fulfill project goals and requirements, including quality requirements.

Project quality manager: The project quality manager’s responsibilities do not change significantly once project execution begins. Their responsibilities are outlined below:

  • Assists with the development of the quality control plan. However, each department or discipline is responsible for completing quality control on its work.

For each phase of the project, the project quality manager:

  • Reviews the project for conformance to the project quality management plan, including the schedule and budget. Reviews are limited to issues that may pose an overall risk or liability to the firm.
  • Reviews and reconciles written comments from each quality control reviewer to the project manager

For the project submittal, the project quality manager (as appropriate):

  • Verifies that review checklists have been completed
  • Verifies that the interdisciplinary and intradisciplinary reviews have been performed
  • Verifies that a constructability review has been completed for the project

Project team: The project team is responsible for checking its own work for completeness and accuracy before having the work reviewed by a department head or discipline lead. This may include the following:

  • An editorial review (technical editing) of written documents for clarity, grammar, spelling, and consistency
  • A page-by-page drawing-to specification crosscheck

Reviewer: Quality control is the responsibility of the project reviewers. Reviewers are identified at project initiation and we recommend they attend the project kick-off meeting. All reviewers must be familiar with the project’s quality control plan and the firm’s quality management program. They must also have the experience and qualifications to conduct the required review. Quality control reviews may include the following:

  • Intradisciplinary/Interdisciplinary technical reviews – An experienced person from each discipline or the project team performs a detailed review of the work in accordance with the firm’s quality management program.
  • Regulatory review – Verifies that the project complies with regulatory requirements
  • Supplier review – Equipment vendors and suppliers are asked to identify equipment incompatibilities, as well as outdated or inappropriate materials.
  • Constructability review – Identifies obstacles before the project is built to reduce or prevent errors, delays, or cost overruns
  • Operability review – Reviews features of the design that have an impact on operational efficiency (function and performance)

One last reminder—a successful project quality management plan is tailored to meet the needs of each project. This is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and efficiency and outcomes are still critical to your overall project success. The scope/extent of the plan details and requirements should be proportional to the size, complexity, and potential risk of the project.

Resources
A good overview of quality in the A/E industry is available on the AXA XL Learning Management System (LMS) – please note you must be a client to access the LMS. This series provides insight into quality concepts and includes a practical discussion of quality in the design industry. If you’re already a client of Design Professional and have access to the LMS, log in here. Once logged in, open the “Resources” tab, then go to “Other Publications.” Scroll down to the “Focus on Quality” white paper series, Parts 1-5.

  • About The Author
  • Project Management Professional (PMP), Risk Manager – Loss Prevention and Education, Design Professional
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