Quality management: why empowering architects improves project quality

written by
Tra Hoang
Mar 1, 2024
minutes read

In today’s modern architectural landscape, project quality isn’t solely measured by design, but also extends to the processes and commercial dimensions that contribute to a project’s success. To adapt to this trend, many firms are empowering their staff to take holistic ownership of their projects, thus improving quality across multiple facets.

What defines project quality?

Project quality is often represented in design. A high-quality design not only meets clients’ requirements but also adheres to regulatory standards. This ensures that building assets are not only functional but also safe, sustainable, and accessible. Designs that harmonize functionality and user well-being are reflective of the responsible architectural practices that positively impact the community at large.  

Project quality can also link to the thoroughness in processes. It begins with ensuring all project related documentations, from legal contracts to deliverables, are in place. The scope, timeline, and costs must be communicated to all stakeholders with clarity and precision across the entire project life cycle. It’s also critical to engage and secure clients’ approval at key project stages. Such approval is not merely procedural, but it also serves as a confirmation of the project’s smooth operation, ensuring that all involved parties are aligned before proceeding with subsequent stages.  

From a commercial perspective, project quality is reflected in the management of resources and budgets. Monitoring costs is crucial, as project teams must ensure they can deliver quality outcomes while remaining within the allocated budget. If there’s a particular area that has been overspent, it’s essential to evaluate whether that overspending can be justified by the enhanced benefits that it brings to the project. Would the additional costs lead to higher quality output, or result in future savings in the long-term operation of buildings? Otherwise, it’s vital to assess whether the incurred overspending can be recovered without compromising project standards.

Why is quality management important?

In architecture, quality management is pivotal because it underscores a firm’s professional integrity. The quality of designs and constructions are direct reflections of a firm’s commitment to excellence. This commitment is also measurable, posing the question: can the firm deliver the best possible outcome within the allocated time and budget? Have they maximized the value of their work given the constraints that they operate within? Ultimately, the goal of quality management is to deliver work of superior quality that is both strategic and efficient.  

Culture is crucial in maintaining quality

Throughout the past decades, the culture within architectural firms has evolved drastically. Previously, it wasn’t common for architects to be fully informed about the financial aspects of the projects they managed. They might have worked within certain budgets yet couldn’t fully grasp the commercial implications of their design choices, and how their decisions would impact their firm’s overall financial conditions.  

In today’s modern architectural landscape, there’s been a significant shift to a more holistic approach to project management. More and more firms have started to recognize the benefits of empowering their staff to take ownership of their projects, from creative processes to financial elements. Keeping a record of every design decision has become a common industry practice, where each team member can understand, for instance, what materials were used in a project and the rationale behind the selection of those materials.  

With a comprehensive approach of project quality management, project leaders are empowered with more authority in their scope of work. This directly benefits the future of the industry since the project leaders of today will eventually become the directors of tomorrow.  

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