Creating a Construction
Quality Management Plan
August 21, 2020
Aristotle was right when he said, “Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” And it certainly applies to the construction world, where producing quality work is not a one-and-done task, but rather an ongoing process. A single unchecked misstep or miscommunication in the process can have a cascading domino effect of resulting problems. Especially so in construction, where consequences can be costly in terms of time, money and resources wasted. That makes having a solid quality management plan in place all the more imperative. It’s got to be one that addresses actions throughout the entire project lifecycle. Not just those that occur on the job site, but in the office as well.
Here are some baseline tips to proactively and effectively create a quality management plan:
Hire the best people and provide them with best training
We know that ‘to err is human,’ but problems like miscommunications, design errors or rework lead to delays and cost overruns.
What can you do to head off these all-to-common problems from happening? Make sure you’re hiring the right people for the right job to begin with. As part of the normal screening during the hiring process, you can use construction software to record and track each employee’s skills, specialized training programs, apprenticeships or certifications. Visibility into your team’s skills allows you to assign the appropriately qualified people to the right task. They’re more likely to have their own high standards for quality, and less likely to cut corners that would threaten the integrity of the project. It’s risk mitigation and quality assurance at the individual level.
One thing to note: While experience certainly counts, many of these industry veterans are heading into retirement, creating a shortage of the skills needed on today’s job sites. On the other hand, the younger set is armed with tech-savvy knowledge and skills that are a perfect match for firms wanting to infuse more advanced technologies on construction sites — such as drones, robots and augmented reality — as well as having a strong comfort level using software. These are things to consider when hiring.
Document and manage changes
Changes are nothing new in construction. There can be material replacements, Corrections to drawing errors, updates to site conditions, inspection reports detailing repairs or Last-minute adjustments that impact a portion of the build.
Sometimes, the challenge isn’t so much the changes themselves; it’s when they’re not documented and notated in a timely and complete manner, or worse, if no one knows about them at all.
To successfully manage the many changes a build will invariably undergo, standards need to be established for properly logging all changes, defining clear lines of responsibilities / deadlines, uploading any related files and disseminating the updates to everyone. The easiest, most accurate way to do this is to use a cloud-based system as a single source of truth. It’s where all project documents are submitted, housed and updated through the lifecycle of a build. Changes made to a document are reflected immediately, so anyone who accesses it will see the change. Proactive notifications and real-time dashboards can even be set up to alert impacted parties when such changes are made so they can adjust course as necessary.
When everyone has just one place to go to make or review changes, and can do so from anywhere on any device, quality management of the change order process becomes more streamlined. And that can ultimately impact quality of work.
Facilitate timely, collaborative communication
With so many people interacting with the countless details, action items and moving parts involved in a construction project, odds are high something will fall through the cracks due to a communication error or misunderstanding. In fact, a 2018 survey conducted by FMI found that 48% of costly construction rework was due mainly to poor communication and poor project data.
What’s important here is not just the quality of the information being shared, but the way in which it’s shared. That means any good quality management plan has to ensure open communication channels are in place to get the right information to the right people at the right time where they need it. And it must surpass the limitations of more common yet decentralized ways of sharing information, such as email, text, phone and fax.
A central software platform in which all communication and collaboration takes place is key. It’s where you can share real-time data for collaborative decision-making among stakeholders; post meeting agenda and notes for project teams; and deliver progress reports for client review.
Schedule and track quality checks
Regular quality checks with the crew to go over each stage of the project ensures everything complies with construction standards and meets client expectations. It could be visual inspections or actual testing of work done to that point. Any issues, mistakes, glitches or work that isn’t up to par have the chance to be remedied right away — before the point of no return when possible tear down and rework would be necessary.
But we all know things get busy, other priorities compete for attention, and before you know it, you realize it’s been quite a while since you’ve done quality checks. Adding scheduled check-in reminders to your calendar is a good start. Although a more effective way to do this is through an online construction project management system that incorporates a quality management plan. It can streamline these to-do items for you to gain better control of the quality assurance process. You can establish a workflow among all relevant parties who would be directly involved in these quality audits, creating a paper trail of accountability to keep things from being overlooked.
Improve quality across the board
Creating a quality management plan is time and effort well-spent that can have valuable benefits beyond simply avoiding disaster: completing the project on time and within budget, no injury claims, no rework, a happy client, a solid reputation. It can make all the difference when pursuing future bids.
Having the right tools to help you manage all the details and inform decision-making can help improve quality across the board. Explore InEight’s construction software and discover what each solution can do.