Skip to content

Deadlines are soon forgotten: It’s the quality they remember

Portsmouth's Spinnaker Tower

Portsmouth's Spinnaker TowerThis is a picture of the Spinnaker Tower, located in my home-town of Portsmouth, UK.  It’s a 170 metre (560 foot) construction with viewing decks at the top that opened in 2005.  It’s a real tourist attraction and if you’re ever in the area be sure to go and see it – there are superb views from the top! (In fact, if you’re going to be in the area contact me and we’ll catch up for a beer…)


If you do visit the tower, you might notice that the building hides a rather embarrassing secret:  It was built with an external scenic lift (elevator) attached to the side that has never worked reliably.  There is an internal lift that you can use, but you may well notice a redundant lift on the exterior.  To my knowledge, it has never been opened for public use.


If you speak to the locals, you’ll be told anecdotes about how on its day of opening several people – allegedly including the project manager – were trapped in the lift for over an hour.   This has been a thorn in the building’s side for years, and the external lift is allegedly being removed.


I heard this story again recently, and it reminded me of something that should be kept firmly in mind when progressing projects:


The quality of the product, and the benefit it brings, will be remembered long after the project budget and deadlines have been forgotten about.


You see, the interesting thing about the Spinnaker Tower is that it was delivered six years late, and significantly over-budget (an £11 million overrun).  Yet this has largely been forgotten about now, it is the faulty lift that people talk about. Or, put differently, it is the quality that persists in people’s consciousness.


Similarly, the landmark Sydney Opera House was delivered ten years late and cost 14 times the original budget.  I wonder how many residents and tourists talk (or even care) about that now?


Often the processes and business systems we define and design will persist years after the project that delivered them has been disbanded.  The level of quality that we deliver (and the level of business and customer value that the project delivers) should be a constant focus.  


In most situations, a one week delay will soon be forgotten about.  A flawed or missing critical feature won’t be.



I hope you’ve found this article interesting.  What are your views on the tension between quality, benefit, time and budget? I’d love to hear from you, so please add a comment below!   And if you like my blogplease subscribe.



About the author:

Adrian Reed is Principal Consultant at Blackmetric Business Solutions, an organisation that offers Business Analysis consulting and training solutions. Adrian is a keen advocate of the analysis profession, and is constantly looking for ways of promoting the value that good analsis can bring.

To find out more about the training and consulting services offered at Blackmetric, please visit

Blackmetric Logo

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.