Friday, February 6, 2009

Using the Quality Management Plan to Manage Customer Satisfaction

Managing customer satisfaction is a very difficult-to-measure component of the triple constraint. Cost, Time, Scope, Quality & Risk are more quantifiable constraints. They can be reported and, most of the time, how they will be managed is contained in the project management plan documents. Since customer satisfaction cannot be measured or quantified, how is it possible to control it & manage it?

The Goals of the Project
The goals of the project are contained in the Project Charter & the Contract and they are further refined in the scope statement and WBS. These are goals that should never be abandoned at any stage of the project. After all, these goals are the reasons for existence of the project. Running after customer satisfaction can sometimes derail the project, so the Project Manager should never lose sight of the project goals in favor of customer satisfaction.

Quality equals customer satisfaction
All the requirements of the customer for the project (whether the end result of the Poject is a product or a service) should be documented in the Quality Management Plan and should be confirmed to comply with the contract and scope statement (no Gold-Plating). Using this process, customer satisfaction becomes a quantifiable constraint that can be managed through the quality management plan, measured using quality assurance processes & improved through processes of quality control.

In conclusion, it is the responsibility of the project manager to translate customer requirements into quantifiable & attainable goals and the quality management plan can be used to help quantify & manage customer satisfaction.

© 2009 Saad Farooqi

Using a Project Management Methodology to Increase Morale

The existence of a standard project management methodology should be a requirement on every project. Furthermore, if due attention is paid to a few elements of this methodology, it will lead to a higher sense of team and greater morale of team members.

The Project Charter
The Project Charter needs to exist and needs to be communicated to the whole team. In this way, everyone will have an idea of the goals that they are working towards. Additionally, the title of the project once communicated with the Project Charter will act as a unifying factor for the team.

Developing the Project Management Plan
If all the team members are involved and their input is considered during the development of the Project Management Plan, and said plan is then communicated to all team members, everyone will have a stake in ensuring the successful execution of this plan, since the success of the project will reflect the team’s competence.

Presence of Integrated Change Control
The morale of a team can be hurt severely due to continuous changes to the baselines, scope, PMIS tools or any other element of the project. Often such changes will result in the prior efforts of the team or individual team members being wasted, and thus the team will feel like they put in a lot of effort for nothing. To avoid such scenarios, an integrated change control procedure should be developed and the process of approving and rejecting changes to the baselines, scope, PMIS tools etc., should be communicated to the team in order to assure them that their concerns are being looked after. Ideally, (though not possible in all industries & applications), the team members can be involved in the change approval / rejection process themselves.

Closing the Project
At the end of a project - particularly in projectized organizations using contract labor - the project team is suddenly released from the project and they find themselves without a home. Since the project manager has prior knowledge of the closing of the project, he can communicate the closing of the project to the team in a proactive manner. The administrative closure procedure can also have specific provisions on giving prior notice to the team of the upcoming end of the project.

Since the most important resources on a project are the human resources and, the success and failure of the project depends highly upon the performance of the team as a whole, the Project Management Methodology can be used as a tool to increase team morale and unify them. After all, there should be no ‘I’ in Project Management Methodology.

© 2009 Saad Farooqi

Adding impact to your Poject Management Skills

How to Simplify Stakeholder Management using your Communication Skills

The job of a Project Manager is anything but easy. Balancing the conflicting components of the triple constraint (schedule, cost, scope, quality, risk, customer satisfaction) and add to that the struggle to satisfy executive management & your team members, it often feels like one is fighting a loosing battle.

Communicating the impact of changes or demands to different stakeholders can become an indispensable tool in this fight. After all, not satisfying stakeholders’ needs could result in influential people putting boulders in your path, whereas agreeing to everyone’s demands will result in either one, or many, of the following: scope creep, schedule delay, cost over-runs, decreased quality, unidentified risks or a dissatisfied customer.

Considering that the Project Manager ‘needs’ to be pro-active and ‘needs’ to anticipate problems, here’s how you can foresee your stakeholders’ demands and be ready to communicate how fulfilling their demands will hurt their own interests.

Customer Expecting Gold Plating
In many industries, this is not very uncommon, either due to a pre-existing trend, failure to define & communicate scope or just a demanding customer. To deal with this situation a project manager needs to have knowledge of the scope in the contract, the pricing, and what impact the customer demands will have on the Project Goals. Obviously adding functionality to a product or performing more services than in the contract will have an impact on the schedule, (someone’s) cost, and could even in some cases decrease quality etc. Once equipped with all this knowledge, all the Project Manager has to do is to communicate how fulfilling the customer’s request will ultimately hurt the projects goals. Once this notification is made by the Project Manager using formal written communications, the customer will back down.

Executive Management Cutting Resources
Executive Management keeps their eyes on the bottom line, and, often, the resources spent in executing a project (especially while ramping up exponentially to meet deadlines) do not appear to translate into good ROI. This is a scenario where the Project Manager can use different progress reports to demonstrate how the project is on track and how cutting back on resources at this stage will ultimately result in greater investments to undo any damage caused by resource shortage, overloading of workers or use of substandard materials.

Politics & Issues of Ethics
There are some scenarios in Projects that every Project Manager will come to face, sooner or later, that are so critical that the decisions made by the Project manager will determine their continuation on the project. Scenarios like, an executive having an existing relationship with a supplier and demanding the use of such a supplier. Or someone with influence requesting the removal of a key team member due to personality differences.

In Scenarios like these, even though there is no silver bullet that will result in the whole situation going away, many consequences can be minimized by putting in formal writing, the impact on quality in the project that will be brought about by using an inferior supplier or, the impact on schedule that will be brought due to the absence of a key team member whose removal is being required.

Cover Your Bases
Even though communicating the impact of stakeholders’ demands will not always result in tables being turned in your favor, at the least, it will arm you with a written document that you can point to and say ‘I told you so!’, once your warnings become reality.

© 2009 Saad Farooqi

Monday, November 24, 2008

Perspectives of Project Management

The success of most complex projects relies on the participation of several levels of contracting / subcontracting companies. These companies may be providing services, equipment / materials, or a combination. In this scenario, each participating company would typically have a Project Manager representing them and each Project Manager would be managing the constraints (Scope, Cost, Schedule, Resources, Quality, Customer Satisfaction) in a manner that benefits the company that they represent.

A Project with multiple companies / Project Managers is ripe for conflict due to a constant tug-of-war between the different companies. Many of these conflicts can be reduced once one attempts to understand the constraints seen from different perspectives.

Let's take a generalized example of a project in which three companies are participating.

The Project

Company A needs to upgrade their facilities by installing a particular type of equipment and is purchasing this equipment from another company.

Company B manufactures this equipment and is selling it to company A.

Company C has been hired by company B in order to install / deploy this equipment.


Company A sees the scope of this project as 'whatever needs to be done to complete this upgrade succesfully'. Company A has little incentive to manage scope.

Company B sees the scope of this project as 'the delivery of equipment & services as purchased by Company A in support of this deployment'. They will keep a Hawk's eye on the scope of this project and they have little incentive to do anything extra.

Company C sees the scope of this project as 'the delivery of services as purchased by Company B'. They will only perform services as guided by company B and they have even lesser incentive to do anything extra.


Company A's cost includes everything they pay company B in order to deliver the equipment & support services. They need to have a very large budget and they will only recoup their cost (in most cases) after some time has passed and their customers have used their upgraded equipment for some time.

Company B's cost is whatever they pay company C in order to perform their services plus any operational overhead to support the project. Their costs are mostly recovered (depending on how the payment terms are written in the contract) as soon as equipment & services are delivered.

Company C's cost is based upon the time & materials spent on performing the services required by company B. Company C's costs are recovered mostly (again depending on how the payment terms are written in the contract) upon completion of services.


Company A, if there are no references to timelines in the contracts, would want all equipment / services delivered immediately, and will drive company B & company C to do so.

Comapny B's schedule will mostly be dependent upon the availability of equipment that they manufacture & is being purchased by company A.

Company C's schedule will be dependent upon the availability of materials & manpower needed to complete the services purchased by Company A.


Company A, since having purchased equipment & services from company B will not want to increase their cost further by assigning many more resources to this project. They will only assign resources that they deem absolutely necessary for this project.

Company B will supply the resources necessary to support the delivery of equipment to company A but will expect company C to supply resources needed for delivery of services.

Company C will supply the resources necessary to support the services purchased by company B, but will make no effort to increase their cost by supplying extra resources.


Company A expects the project to be delivered with good quality.

Company B expects company A to define quality metrics for it to deliver good quality.

Company C expects company B to define quality metrics for it to deliver their services with good quality.

Customer Satisfaction

Company A's customers are all the potential users of the eqipment being deployed by Company B.

Company B's customer is company A and it will work toward their satisfaction.

Company C's customer is company B but it needs to work towards the satisfaction of company B & company C.

© 2008 Saad Farooqi

Friday, November 14, 2008

Triple ? Constraint

I was reading some PM Blogs and saw that there is a lot of confusion / disagreement about the 'Triple' Constraint that project manager's use to manage their projects. The argument is, that the triple constraints have historically been of Time, Cost & Scope. Many Project Manager's argue that this picture of the triple constraint is incomplete without the addition of 'Quality'. Other's argue that Quality is actually part of the Scope. Some other Project Manager's think that the whole 'triple constraint' concept is now obsolete and some other means should be used to create measurable metrics for success of a project.

I will make an attempt to put this argument into perspective, but try not to be so arrogant as to come up with an end-all answer to this argument (although towards the end I will try to 'illustrate' my method managing a project).

PMIs Triple Constraint

As defined in the PMBOK, the Triple Constraint is: A Framework for evaluating competing demands. The triple constraint is often depicted as a triangle where one of the sides or one of the corners represent one of the parameters being managed by the project team.

As such, it is just a 'framework' for evaluating 'competing demands'. The fact that it is 'often' depicted as a triangle does not mean that it is 'always' depicted as a triangle or that there are only 3 elements to the triple constraint.

Also, throughout the PMBOK guide - third edition, there are only 2 references to the Triple Constraint; once where it is defined (page 378), and once where the constraints of project scope, time & cost are also said to be affected by quality, risk & customer satisfaction (page 8).

Basically, in PMIs approach, the triple constraint is the collection of 'constraints' (not necessarily three) that are interconnected and any change in one of the constraints will have an affect on another. PMIs nine knowledge areas are the areas that every Project Manager should have knowledge of and be able to manage - Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Human Resources, Communications, Risk, Procurement. So, in essence through the knowledge areas, PMI has increased the triple constraint from three constraints to nine.

Rita Mulcahy's Approach

In Rita's books (PMP Exam Prep, Fifth Edition: Rita's Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam & Risk Management, Tricks of the Trade) she considers the triple constraints to be of cost, time, scope, quality, risk and customer satisfaction. So, she thinks that there are six elements to the triple constraint.

Finding Common Ground

In my opinion, everyone is talking about the same thing but they are approaching it from a different view. If you really think about it, quality can be considered a part of scope (since it should be defined prior to the project by all stakeholders), and customer satisfaction can be considered a part of quality (since the customer will be one of the stakeholders and he will have a say in how the quality is defined and hence how the scope is defined) or the customer can also be considered a part of time since he will be driving the schedule. And finally, Risk is the unknown part of all the constraints. It is all about planning on how to react to an unexpected event. So, depending upon whether the Risk is related to cost, sope, or time, it can be considered part of the initial three elements of the triple constraint too.

My Approach

The way I manage projects, I take into consideration all the constraints of:
  • Cost
  • Time
  • Scope
  • Quality
  • Risk
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Integration
  • Procurement
  • Communications
  • Human Resources
Depending upon the nature of the project, a different level of emphasis will be placed upon different elements of these constraints, but they can 'all' affect your project. After all, errors in Communications can lead to a failed project too. However, that does not mean that you should spend all your time can be spent just communicating to stakeholders. So, isn't communications a constraint, since you have to balance it with all the others?


The 'Triple Constraint' refers to the framework for evaluating competing demands. How many elements this triple constraint has, depends a lot on the nature of the project. As a PM, we train ourselves to see these competing demands in our head, and make all our decisions in light of the fact that every decision that affects one element of this framework will have an impact on at least one other element as well.

© 2008 Saad Farooqi

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Breaking in to the Blogging World

Today is November 12, 2008. A day when I have taken the dive into blogging world. Although a few friends of mine have had blogs for years now, I resisted the fad, until today.

In the coming days, months, & hopefully years, I will be sharing my ideas on project management through this blog. Ideas about what project management is, what I think it should be, and what I hope it will become.

I am a recent recipient of the PMP certification (last year), so, at the moment, my ideas and thoughts may appear to be limited by one methodology, but I hope to acquire knowledge regarding other methodologies as well.

I have also mostly worked in the Wireless Telecommunications Industry, so, again, most of my experience relates to that industry, though I will make every attempt to generalize my thoughts, or at the least illustrate how the concepts and ideas presented may be implemented in other industries as well.

The purposes of this blog will be the following:
1. To post my ideas about project management
2. To increase my project management knowledge, while searching for topics to blog about
3. To work on my literary skills while posting my blogs
4. To network with people interested in learning and sharing their knowledge about project management.

Well, that's all I have for now. I hope that I will gain a lot of knowledge & relationships through blogging & networking with the readers of my blog (maybe I'll be lucky enough to finally have my own stalker!!).

© 2008 Saad Farooqi