DELIVERING VALUE: Setting Conditions of Satisfaction
Date: October 5, 2017
Conditions of Satisfaction
Have you ever sat down at a restaurant, ordered your meal and had something completely different arrive at your table? What you thought you had communicated was not delivered. Often times in building projects, the desired value is lost because of this type of breakdown. Value is what a Customer wants from a given process, delivered when they want it, for a price they expect to pay.
A key component in delivering value is creating project Conditions of Satisfaction (CoS). Conditions of Satisfaction can be defined as “An explicit description by a Customer of all the actual requirements that must be satisfied by the Performer in order for the Customer to feel that he or she received exactly what was wanted.”1
Without an explicit description of what is valued, the project team resorts to making assumptions and guesswork to create their product. Below are a few essential (and often overlooked) steps to help create and implement project Conditions of Satisfaction.
1. Engage Key Stakeholders
The first step in creating Conditions of Satisfaction is to identify and engage the proper stakeholders. Ultimately it is the Customer (Owner) who defines value.
On larger projects this usually includes executive leadership, department directors, key staff users or community groups. These Stakeholders need to have an aligned vision of the end goal for successful value delivery. If an aligned vision is not possible, a clear decision making structure of who has final say in conflicting goals is required.
On smaller projects there may be one person with the delegated authority to make value decisions. Whatever the project size, open communication with the appropriate delegates is critical.
The Key Stakeholders should be engaged early on, before design work begins. Otherwise the team may start down a path that is not valuable to the Customer. It is beneficial to all involved if roles of the Stakeholders, Design and Construction Professionals are expressed at the onset. Many times team members question the benefit of their early involvement. With clear roles the Design and Construction team can engage the Key Stakeholders appropriately to understand their values.
2. Define Value
As a project team, take the time to discuss what the Customer deems valuable. This conversation is critical. It is frequently bypassed because project teams tend to view the information given in a Request for Proposal (RFPs) as the Customer’s value statement. RFPs typically focus on communicating scope of work rather than defining value.
Design decisions revolve around understanding the overarching goals and concepts a Customer values. For example, one company may value lowest first cost, while another may be willing to pay more upfront in exchange for a lower life cycle cost. These types of desires are not typically conveyed in an RFP or project description, yet understanding them is paramount in the design and construction process. By clearly discussing value, a project team is in position to make better decisions for the project.
3. Discuss the Conditions
Once the value conversation has been initiated, it is important to concisely define the concepts discussed. A Condition of Satisfaction should be measurable, trackable and have a clear process to complete. Don’t be afraid to break down value statements into smaller discernable line items. Some conditions cannot be met by only targeting one metric.
CoS should be revisited as the project progresses. Some conditions may become obsolete if the Customer’s values change. For example, new customer leadership or a revised business case may influence the desired product. In any case, CoS should be developed and committed to as a team. Achievability of the CoS should be validated by the project team before work commences.
4. Document the Conditions
It is important to write down the conditions the team agrees upon and keep them in sight at all times. If a Big Room concept is being utilized, physically posting CoS on a prominent wall is helpful. In the absence of a common team work space, posting CoS in a shared digital drive or attaching the list to meeting minutes can be effective as well.
This provides clarity to the team of what the goals are and how they are measured. All design and construction decisions can then be weighed against the Conditions of Satisfaction, ensuring that Customer Value is maintained throughout the process. With clear targets the team minimizes any non-value-added activity or design.
5. Track Progress
Each CoS will include a value statement. To track progress it is helpful to have an explicit target and a status for each one. Periodically review the list as a team to ensure the project is progressing on a path of delivering value. Work tasks and flow should be planned to achieve each of the Conditions of Satisfaction.
Setting Conditions of Satisfaction is a proven and effective tool to align your team. Documenting and tracking set conditions helps projects reliably deliver value.
Below is an example of Conditions of Satisfaction from a Combined Senior Services Center and Parks and Recreation Facility.
Jeremiah Sugarman, RA, LSSBB.
Wakefield Beasley & Associates
- Lean Construction Institute. LCI Lean Project Delivery Glossary. 2016. www.leanconstruction.org/learning/education/glossary/
- Lean Construction Institute. Target Value Delivery: Practitioner Guidebook to Implementation Current State 2016. 2016.