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Project Management Professional (PMP), Risk Manager – Loss Prevention and Education, Design Professional

This is the second of a four-part series on project quality management. This installment focuses on quality management during the proposal phase, including the need for a project quality work plan and the components of such a plan.

As discussed in the first article of the series, the quality management system (QMS) model we’re working with includes four primary roles:

  • 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.

Project proposal

After the “go/no-go” proposal evaluation, the “go”-approved request for proposal/ qualifications (RFP/Q) will move forward to completion. In this approach, the project quality manager and the project manager are assigned to respond to the RFP/Q. Principals, division managers, discipline leaders and project team members may be asked to contribute to or approve this effort. While each response will differ depending on the project, all responses should address the following:

1. Scope of services
2. Quality management budget
3. Fee development
4. Project team
5. Similar project experience
6. Preparing for the proposal interview (if applicable)
7. Contract management
8. Project quality work plan

The project may also require a project work plan, project management plan (PMP) or health and safety plan. If a PMP (which provides the details of how the project will be executed) is prepared, then the project quality work plan can be incorporated into the PMP. Otherwise the project quality work plan is prepared as a stand-alone document. During the proposal or qualification phase the project quality manager also guides and supports the project manager in addressing the following:

1. Contract type and legal review
2. Fee development and invoice requirements and communication
3. Risk management
4. Identifying owner responsibilities
5. Specifying additional services
6. Determining project deliverables

Project quality work plan

The project quality work plan clarifies and documents the processes that will be followed during the execution of your project and addresses concerns beyond quality control. As stated earlier, in this approach, the project manager bears primary responsibility for project quality and is responsible for preparing the project quality work plan. This plan may include the following:

1. Coordination with discipline leads to verify staff availability
2. Document management from coordination to filing protocols
3. Integrating the schedule of quality control activities into the project schedule
4. Determining the quality management budget for the project (prior to proposal submission)
5. Defining quality control responsibilities for the project

Additionally, prior to the project start, the project manager reviews and confirms contract completeness and accuracy and completes the accounting system for the new project. The project quality manager reviews these with the project manager and confirms their completion in the project files. A contract review and accounting system checklist may be part of this process.

The project quality manager and project manager are assigned to respond to the RFP/Q.


Checklists can play a significant role in a QMS. The key is having a well-defined checklist that minimizes confusion and indecisiveness and helps you be more effective and efficient.

In this series we’re providing a model for executing project quality management. The focus here is the importance of defining project roles and responsibilities as well as the need to develop an appropriate project quality management plan for each project. While appropriate checklists could/should be one aspect of this work plan, checklists cannot include everything, nor do they anticipate all the challenges on every project. The project quality work plan should identify appropriate checklists or portions of checklists specific to each project.

The need for a project quality work plan for each project goes beyond a typical quality control (QC) checklist or document review and approval process.

Quality management basics

Quality management begins at the proposal evaluation, or “go/no-go,” phase of the project and continues through final payment of project fees.

  • A successful quality management system (QMS) should be adapted to the specific needs of each project.
  • The goal of a QMS is to deliver a high-quality product while minimizing project risks.
  • The QMS process should be flexible and reflect, for example, the project size and complexity, project type and client type.
  • The QMS for a low-budget, low-risk project should be appropriate in scope and budget for this project type versus a highly complex and high-budget project.

The project quality work plan is designed to address and define project-specific quality processes from the proposal phase through project close-out. The next article in this series will address project initiation after the contract award or a notice to proceed.

Patty Huntley may be contacted at


If you have a policy with Design Professional, please visit our Learning Management System and navigate to the ‘Other Publications’ section to read a great overview of quality in the A/E industry, titled: Focus on Quality.

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