It’s Your Project – Criteria for Making Decisions

A Series of Articles on Controlling the Worth of Decisions 

As a client, you expect the architect you engage to provide leadership in the planning, design and construction of your project; to guide you in understanding the process, to define when and how you need to be involved, and to identify key points on the journey where your decisions will be crucial; all reasonable expectations.

The first order of business in planning a project is not, however, to wait for a project management plan from your architect, but to establish with the architect all that is important to you in maintaining control of project development and the final outcome.

There are three key factors that you, as the owner, should define before allowing your architect to begin:


Controlling the Worth of Decisions:

Key Factor #3 – Determine Your Criteria for Making Decisions


If you have defined essential priorities and given thought to all that constitutes value, then you have gone a long way toward establishing criteria for decision‐making.

With any project, there are dozens if not hundreds of significant decisions that you, as the owner and client must make. It is often not the decision that is difficult, but the lack of full and comprehensive understanding regarding what is important to you when making those decisions that creates the difficulty.

Guiding Questions


As many decisions affect more than one situation or condition, it is most effective to develop a series of questions the answers to which provide direction in the making of decisions.

For example:

Let’s say an unforeseen situation arises in which the design for the facility cannot be supported by the funds available. You need to cut the scope of the project, or find more money. The latter is not possible. The architect is offering three optional solutions and associated cost reductions in response. All three options are compromises to the project you hoped to achieve. For purposes of this example, you may compare and rank the three options based on the following criteria questions:

How does each option affect our mission?

How does each option affect the achievement of our priorities?

If so, to what extent are our priorities compromised?

Will any or all of the options result in other potential compromises or change?

If so, what? How does each option affect the flexibility we had hoped for in future development?

Which option offers the best overall benefit and value for the cost savings?

Certainly there will be situations and conditions that cannot be resolved with the answers to a few questions. Your questions may be more in number and of greater complexity requiring far more evaluation than the questions noted in the example above. What is important is that you frame the essential questions that are at the foundation of your mission, goals and objectives; questions that will be your guide as decisions become necessary, as they surely will.

Click here to read Set Your Priorities: Key Factor #1
Click here to read Define Your Meaning of Value: Key Factor #2