Bruce T. Barkley
and James H. Saylor
Project Management Journal, September 1995, Volume XXVI, Number 3, The
Professional Journal of the Project Management Institute.
late 1990's and into early 21th Century may well be seen by future project
managers as the era of the "customerized project", the period when the
voice of the customer began to be institutionalized into the project management
process. In Liberation
Management, Tom Peters talks of "customerizing" the work of
business, and developing "seamless" client engagement through direct
and continuous customer interface. (1)
Peters' model of the customer-driven project, while it made sense theoretically,
has not been made operational for the many professionals in project and product
management and quality improvement. This
is because the field of project management has been slow to respond to the
quality movement with concepts and tools to focus project managers and support
systems on customers, continuous improvement, and organizational culture.
This article suggests a way to make these concepts an integral part of
the project management process. Table
1 outlines the transition from traditional project management to customer-driven
project management, a vision for the future of project management.
1. Unique Aspects of
Customer-Driven Project Management
by customer and bid out
by structured cooperation between customer and project supplier
is an outsider to the project team
is driver-leader of project team
phase defines project details
phase performs quality improvement analysis; project details
specified in design phase
teams perform tasks in functional organizations and "hand
teams fully empowered to perform tasks and improve processes to
manager has role of controller
has role of leader
target one-shot modifications of deliverables
improvement of processes and the deliverable by
article draws from a second edition book, Customer-Driven
Project Management: Building
Quality into Project Processes, which the authors synthesize
project management and total quality management.
The purpose of this article is to outline the framework of
the phases of the customer-driven project management process that
provides the practical foundation for the practical application of
customer-driven project management.
simple answer is that projects which fail often suffer from bad
customer interface, bad process management, and too little
empowerment of team members.
Reading the literature, we see countless projects which
have been characterized by a disconnection with the customer; the
lack of early planning and analysis and sound project selection
practices; and no acceptable process to respond to down-the-road
change orders from customers: who legitimately change their minds
about what they want as they learn from the project itself.
The total quality management concept provides project
managers with a proven methodology to: (1) select the right
project, because it puts the customer in the driver's seat; (2)
assure continuous customer engagement from beginning to end
throughout the process; and (3) improve the project management
process itself in terms of time, cost, and performance through
process improvement, process invention, and process reengineering.
Total quality management and project management combine to
focus on delighting the customer through total customer
project management also changes the prevailing notions about many
project and quality teams, which are often seen as short term,
limited function groups, and who often lack good grounding in
solid problem solving methods.
This new approach requires that a team stay in place from
the early development of a quality project or product through to
the delivery and acceptance of the project deliverable.
These teams use proven tools and techniques to select
projects with the customer; make a conscious effort to focus on
the process they will use to develop the deliverable - during
design; and use traditional project control processes to get
approve projects completed. Project
managers and customers collaborate from beginning to end, and
customers actually perform the functions traditionally performed
by the project manager.
blending of (1) continuous improvement and quality analysis of
customer requirement, and (2) controlled design and production of
the right deliverables, produces a powerfully energetic and
empowered team. This
idea, first, of empowering the project team as a partner with the
customer, and then commissioning them to produce the deliverables
generates focus and enthusiasm in the team from beginning to end.
customer-driven project management process requires an unique
organizational structure. The
customer and supplier must agree to enter into a partnership to
successfully carry out the project.
Also, the traditional project team is transformed to a
customer-driven team. This
means the customer-driven project management process is led by the
customer as project manager.
This new concept shifts the focus for project results to
the customer. The
traditional project manager becomes the team facilitator.
The team facilitator focuses on building a high performance
team to accomplish the project while the essential direction and
control of the deliverable is exercised by the customer.
Team member are process owners empowered to deliver outputs
from their particular processes. In addition, the project can be supported by a variety of
teams as necessary for each specific project.
this focus and organizational structure, the eight phases of the
customer-driven project management process are the general
guidelines for the customer-driven team to proceed through all the
processes of customer-driven project management.
The eight phases go from defining the issues to monitoring
the quality outcomes. The
customer-driven project management process finds, selects,
analyzes, and implements project and process improvement
opportunities concurrently and continuously.
Obviously, each project will require a tailored application
of this model.
"customerizing" of project management is facilitated by
the use of an eight phase customer-driven project management
this phase, the customer's needs and expectations are developed.
This phase defines the "what" of the project.
The focus and priorities of project are determined in this
phase. The mission of
the project is clarified, and specific customer requirements are
detailed enough to establish priorities.
In addition, critical processes are identified that
contribute to the success of the project.
process of defining the quality issue is as follows:
The input is a draft mission from the customer-supplier
projects steering team. This input is used in the process to: (1) establish the
project mission, (2) form the customer-driven project lead team,
and (3) define the project deliverable.
The output of this process is a project mission statement
with a specific project deliverable definition.
steps to phase 1 involves the following:
Determine focus (mission)
Define the top-level project process.
Determine the boundaries of the project process.
Specify the output(s) of the project process (deliverable).
Identify customer or customer(s) other than customer-
List other customer needs and expectations.
Identify requirements for input into the project process.
Determine suppliers of inputs.
Determine the customer's metrics of project process
Benchmark critical project processes.
Establish ownership of project process to the customer-
management lead team.
result of phase 1 is a clear definition of the quality issue.
This definition of the quality issue must be documented.
The documentation contains the following:
Customer-Driven Project Lead Team Membership
Roles and Responsibilities Matrix
Project Process Top-Level Diagram
Start and Finish of Project Process
The Project Process Deliverable(s)
List of Customer Needs and Expectations
List of Inputs for the Project Process
List of Suppliers of the Inputs
Measure of Customer Satisfaction
phase thoroughly examines all the specific processes required to
totally satisfy the customer.
During this phase, the "how" of the project is
establishes performance outputs and opportunities for improvement.
It is important to understand all the processes required
for the project. This
includes current and required process performance.
This phase involves determining input requirements with
their specific suppliers and output expectations with all
includes all internal and external supplier and customers.
It also may include establishing performance expectations
based on benchmarking information. In addition, any potential problems, shortfalls, and
improvement opportunities are identified at this time.
process of understanding and defining the processes is as follows:
The input is the top-level project process.
The process in phase 2 involves: (1) deciding critical
processes to perform the top-level project process, (2) forming or
identifying additional customer-driven teams to support the
customer-driven project lead team, (3) understanding these
critical processes, and (4) defining the performance of these
critical processes. The output of this process is a list of
involves the following for each process:
Benchmark critical processes
Diagram the critical processes at the top and top-down
Specify the customer or customers
List all customer needs and expectations
Determine whether the process is meeting customer
Discover who owns and influences each process
Determine all the inputs and outputs of each process
Understand the relationship between inputs and outputs
List the suppliers of the inputs
Determine whether the suppliers are meeting the
Determine how to measure the process
Measure the process to determine how it is performing
Understand the value of the process to the deliverable
Determine whether the process can be eliminated
List the problems/issues/opportunities
outcome of phase 2 is a distinct understanding and definition of
all the processes, especially the critical processes involved in
the overall project process.
Again, the team needs to document this phase.
The process understanding and definition documentation
contains the following for each critical process:
Process performance measure(s)
Problems, issues and opportunities
third phase involves the listing of all improvement opportunities
and the selection of high priority opportunities.
It is critical to focus on the processes with significant
impact on total customer satisfaction.
process of selecting improvement opportunities follows.
The input is the list of improvement opportunities.
The process in phase 3 involves: (1) specifying selection
criteria, (2) determining a selection method, and (3) making
output of this process is improvement opportunities for analysis.
phase 3, the customer-driven project management lead team selects
an agenda of high priority improvement opportunities.
This agenda is based on the information collected in phase
2. All the
improvement opportunities identified in phase 2 are listed on the
agenda. The selection
phase involves choosing high priority processes and/or problems
for further analysis. The
selection should be made using consensus decision making.
outcome of phase 3 is a list of improvement opportunities for
phase uses disciplined analytical tools and techniques to target
specific improvements of the selected processes.
This phase involves knowing the exact performance of all
processes, the variations in the processes, and the underlying or
"root" causes of problems. This phase provides the objectives for the project and
process of analyzing improvement opportunities follows. The input
is the selected improvement opportunities.
These selected improvement opportunities are further
analyzed through the following: (1) process analysis, (2) cause
and effect analysis, and (3) data statistical analysis. The output
of this process is project(s) objectives.
is the diagnostic phase of the customer-driven project management
improvement methodology. This
requires a thorough use of analytical tools to focus on the root
causes of problems, process variation, and customer
team asks "why" and then asks "why" again, and
again until they are satisfied underlying causes are identified.
This phase accomplishes its complete diagnostics through
process analysis, cause and effect analysis, and data statistical
analysis assesses the content of the process.
Cause and effect analysis determines the underlying or root
causes of problems. Data
statistical analysis evaluates process performance.
During this phase, the customer-driven project team
discovers the issues that prevent the project processes from
performing in an optimal way.
analysis phase of the customer-driven project management
improvement methodology is one of the essential phases of the
process because it assures that the team does not go from symptoms
to solutions without looking at underlying causes.
It is underlying causes that represent the agenda for
process improvement and project development.
sum, the analysis phase includes:
Exploring ways to eliminate non-value added steps
Eliminating or reducing high time and cost steps
Developing methods to simplify and remove obstacles
Removing any unnecessary loops
Decreasing any complexity
Getting rid of unnecessary paperwork
Analyzing frequency changes
Purging or lessening waste
Looking for better ways to do the process
Determining the underlying causes of any problem areas.
Establishing process performance (goals).
Listing items for action.
result of phase 4 is a list of project process objectives. The
analysis process documentation includes the following:
Detailed process diagrams
Process analysis report
Cause and effect analysis diagram
Data statistical analysis report
List of project objectives for action
phase relates most closely to the traditional project management
phases of concept, definition, and production.
During this phase, actions are taken to explore
alternatives, state the project concept, define the project
deliverable, demonstrate and validate the project, and develop and
produce the project deliverable.
During this phase, the team actually prepares plans,
organizes, staffs, controls, and coordinates the project
includes preparing the scope of work, project work break down
structure, schedule, and budget.
The customer- driven project lead team assures that the
necessary human resource, financial, contracting, and other
support systems are in place.
Ultimately in this phase is where the necessary deliverable
is produced and deployed to the customer.
action process follows.
The inputs for taking action are the project objectives.
The project objectives start the following activities: (1)
alternative analysis, (2) project concept,(3) project definition,
and (4) project production. The
output of the taking action process is a project deliverable.
phase produces a project deliverable.
The deliverable can be a product, service, system, program,
report, component, analysis, procedure, improved process, a
corrective action, etc. The
deliverable may be something as complex as a new computer system
or it may be as simple as installing a new procedure.
Complex or simple, it involves project management,
consisting of concept, definition, and production to provide the
all of these practices are essential for taking any action, the
tools and techniques to accomplish the processes will vary
depending on the project.
phase transitions from quality management to project management.
This is where the project deliverable takes shape.
Prior to this phase, the customer-driven project management
teams were focusing on customer requirements and supplier's
processes. This is
where the project deliverable is designed, produced, tested, and
first step in the take action phase is alternative analysis.
Alternative analysis consist of the generation, evaluation,
and selection of a project alternative.
Alternative generation involves the production of as many
ideas as possible to accomplish the project objective(s).
These ideas are then assessed against the team's criteria
to determine the best solution. Finally, the team reaches consensus on one project
becomes the project deliverable.
a project deliverable is selected, the project must be produced.
Again, the production of both a service and/or product
deliverable requires a structured discipline project management
this step relates most closely to the traditional project
management phases of concept, definition, and production.
During this phase, besides producing the project
deliverable, project processes are performed and improved for
completing the project. In addition, problems are solved during this phase.
Further, customer-driven project teams actually perform
project management activities including preparing the scope of
work, project work break down structure, task list, budget,
critical path network, and gantt charts, as necessary.
Also, the customer-driven project lead team assures that
the essential human resource, financial, contracting, and support
systems are in place. Ultimately
the output of this phase is the necessary deliverable accepted by
customer-driven project lead team guides the production of the
project deliverable through the assistance of other
customer-driven project teams as necessary.
Customer-driven project teams are the keys to achieving
total customer satisfaction with the project deliverable, because
they are in touch with the whole process of understanding and
meeting the real needs of the customer.
The concept step determines the specific approach to accomplish the project. During the concept step, all possible methods for the deliverable and its support are identified and evaluated against benefits, costs, and risks. The concept step defines the project deliverable capable of fulfilling the project mission. During this step, the detailed project management analysis is accomplished that readies the project for detailed planning in the definition phase. The subprocesses involved in the concept step are as follows:
outcome of the concept step is an approved project deliverable
concept for full-scale development. This step answers the question, "What is the project
This step defines the project in detail. It specifies the how and how to of the project. It details the deliverable, its producibility, its integration with other systems, and its use. The definition step specifics the performance, cost, and schedule requirements. The resource requirements of the project are specified in this step. This is the step where a reliable, producible, and supportable project deliverable is defined and developed to accomplish the mission. During this step, the detailed project management planning is accomplished including network schedules and work breakdown structures. In addition, customer-driven project teams are established to perform and improve the project. The subprocesses in the definition step are as follows:
Deliverable requirements and design
Support system plan
Project organization established
Network schedule formulation
outcome of the definition step is a project deliverable certified
for production. This step answers the following questions:
What are the specific processes, tasks, and activities?
Who is going to perform processes, tasks, and activities?
How long the project will take to complete?
When the project will be accomplished?
How much the project will cost?
transition from definition to production requires careful
attention by the customer-driven project lead team.
Typically, the transition from definition to production is
not a distinct process, but it is a continuous cycle of activities
including the concept, design, test, and production or plan, do,
check, and act. To be
successful, the customer-driven project lead team instills the
discipline of the customer-driven project management improvement
The production step involves the actual production of the project deliverable and its support elements. During this step, the customer-driven project teams ready all detailed planning for the operational step by making sure all elements are integrated, interrelated and interfaced. In addition to the project deliverable, the support elements are produced in this step. This is the process where the customer-driven project teams perform their tasks and report progress to the customer-driven project lead team. Also, the project deliverable is tested. During this step, project management consists of implementation and evaluation. The customer-driven lead team focuses on monitoring performance of the processes and taking corrective action as necessary. The subprocesses in the production step are as follows:
Support system development
Project organization performing
Plan update and execution
Network schedule in use
outcome of the production step is a project deliverable acceptable
to the customer.
the check results phase, the customer-driven lead team measures
the deliverable and project processes against the customer's needs
and expectations. Figure 11 shows the process of checking results.
The input is the
project deliverable. The
process in phase 6 involves: (1) testing the project deliverables
performance against customer expectations, (2) determining whether
process goals are being met, and (3) taking corrective action as
necessary to satisfy the customer and ensure process performance.
The output of this process is a project deliverable for
phase 6 the team starts with a plan with the specific metrics to
check the results for the deliverable and the project processes.
Next, the team actually assesses the deliverable and the
project processes. Are
the results as expected? If
no, the team uses the customer-driven project improvement
methodology to correct the situation.
If yes, the team continues to implementation.
outcome of phase 6 is a deliverable for implementation that
satisfies the customer with project processes capable of meeting
performance goals. Again,
the team needs to document this phase.
The check results process documentation contains the
Check results plan
An assessment of the deliverable using metrics
An evaluation of all project processes
List of issues for action
Documentation of corrective action(s)
7 institutes the project deliverable. Figure 12 shows the process
of implementing the improvement. The input is the project deliverable or improvement.
The process in phase 7 involves: (1) planning and gaining
approval, (2) instituting the project deliverable and/or
improvement, and (3) project operation and support. The output of this process is a project deliverable
continually satisfying the customer.
the focus is on total customer satisfaction, the implementation of
the project deliverable requires the improvement become accepted
as a customer satisfier over an extended time period.
This means the project deliverable must be valued and
customer-driven project is not complete until the customer uses
it. Depending on the deliverable, this means a varying degree of
operation and support. For
instance in a process improvement deliverable, the improved
process will have to be used as a daily course of action.
This may make standard documentation and training a
necessity. In the case of a new system deliverable, operation and
support is more extensive. The
system implementation requires using and maintaining the system,
operation and maintenance manuals, training, facilities,
organizational structure, facilities, computer resources,
transportation and support services.
As a minimum to implement an improvement means developing a
implementation plan of action.
outcome of phase 7 is a deliverable/improvement. The documentation
of this phase is the plan of action. The major topics for a plan
of action includes the following:
The specific operation and support actions
List of all steps, tasks, and activities
Assignment of responsibility for each step
Schedule to start and finish the implementation
Schedule for start and completion of each step
project management step in implementing the improvement is project
operation and support. The operations processes are (1)
deliverable in use, (2) deliverable being supported, and (3)
project performance feedback.
The support processes include: customer response support,
training, facilities, people resources, supply services,
transportation, documentation, maintenance, and computer
resources. One major
aspect of this step is the continual use of the deliverable by the
customer for its intended purpose.
Again, the feedback system is essential to assure the
deliverable's performance continues to meet the customer's needs
and expectations. In
addition to performance, the other major contributor to total
customer satisfaction is support.
This means the effective and efficient use of the
improvement focuses on the integration of operation and support
considerations. The target of operation and support is optimum life cycle
cost. This requires
aiming at specific customer needs and expectations.
The goal is to provide just the right amount of support for
process of monitoring the results for continuous improvement
follows. The input is the operational project deliverable or
process in phase 8 involves: (1) evaluating project performance
metrics, (2) assessing the project processes, and (3) seeking
continuous improvement of the project deliverable and project
processes. The output of this process is a successful project.
customer-driven project management operates over the long-term.
Once the deliverable is operational, the customer- driven
lead team as other customer-driven teams as appropriate continue
as long as the mutual relationship provides joint benefits for the
customer and project supplier.
The team continues to monitor the project and processes
take action as necessary to maintain total customer satisfaction.
The teams perform continuous improvement activities.
This could include modification of the existing deliverable
or even a completely new deliverable.
The project is never complete until there is no deliverable
needed by the customer.
outcome of phase 8 is the continuous improvement of project
deliverable and project processes. The documentation of this step
Project performance metrics
Process performance metrics
Issues for continuous improvement
the project will reach close-out.
Close-out consists of (1) close-out plan, (2) divestment of
resources, and (3) report of lessons learned.
The close-out plan outlines the specific tasks, responsibilities, and time-phasing for completing the product deliverable's life cycle. The plan should consider reassignment of people resources, disposition of the inventory of product deliverable and spares, and logistics support requirements. The close-out plan should consider a final evaluation of all people participating in the project. This evaluation forms the basis for the next assignment. Beyond people, the close-out plan deals with the disposition of inventory. The inventory disposition must include methods that assess both cost and the environment. Finally, the close-out plan requires a logistics support annex to actually accomplish the close-out. This could include: packaging, handling, transporting, disassembly, decomposition, etc.
second subprocess involves the actual divestment of the project
deliverable. This includes the phase-out and/or disposal of the
project deliverable and project process capability. Besides the
actual inventory mentioned above, this may include the project
documentation. Depending on the project, the dismantling of the
documentation is a major task by itself.
third subprocess in close-out is reporting the lessons learned.
This is important for future projects. It becomes a database of
information for prospective proposal and customer- driven project
"Customerizing" project management can move from concept to practical operation through the synthesizing and broadening of the popular management techniques of Total Quality Management and Project Management. The foundation being a new step-by-step customer-driven process of eight phases. These eight phases of the customer-driven project process are repeated many times over time in a full scale partnering agreement between supplier and customer. As each new project is undertaken, project processes are improved using insights and learning gained in earlier partnered projects.