The construction industry is one of the most dynamic industries in the world. With a need to build more infrastructure, we are seeing an increase in projects being executed globally. However, an alarming number of these projects are defective and need to be revisited by designers and engineers – leading to lengthy delays, additional costs, and even litigation issues.
Quality assurance plans have been developed over many decades within construction organisations worldwide. Their goal is straightforward: improve construction project quality by implementing effective practices during design phases that can be replicated during implementation phases.
From the top management’s perspective (project sponsors), construction quality assurance policies translate into worker actions at the ground level. In other words, management assumes that if they do what they’re supposed to do (i.e., define policies), then workers will do what management expects them to do when implementing such policies.
But while it seems simple enough on paper (or screen), several barriers can sometimes prevent construction quality assurance plans from translating into worker actions at construction sites:
- Lack of awareness and understanding about quality assurance policies by workers in general.
- Improperly defined roles and responsibilities within quality assurance plans, which lead to confusion and frustration on the part of workers.
- Lack of training and resources for workers to understand and implement quality assurance policies, which leads to confusion about what is expected of them.
- Lack of adequate supervision on construction sites, which leads to workers not following quality assurance plans as directed.
- Lack of adequate planning, communication and coordination between project stakeholders (designers, engineers, contractors) leading to last-minute changes.
The second part of a quality assurance policy is the procedures for taking corrective actions in case of defects. If a problem arises on-site, managers should be able to quickly identify which person or group is responsible for fixing it. The activities required to correct the problem should be clearly outlined so that everyone knows what’s needed. Ideally, this will happen with minimal impact on productivity and no loss of time due to confusion about who needs to do what and when. In addition, these corrective actions need to be suitable for training on-site personnel.
When translating quality assurance policies into workable construction site practices, construction management professionals must be aware of the key elements that should be considered.
The role of communication between management and site workers
Communication between all members of the project team is essential in making sure that quality assurance goals are met throughout construction. Each team member should be aware of their responsibilities within the quality control process as well as what they need to do if they encounter any issues or discrepancies while onsite. With effective communication and coordination, construction projects can be conducted efficiently and safely with minimal risk of quality issues.
In an ideal world, all parties involved in executing a job would have access to information about its progress at any time. However, this may not always be possible due to limited resources or other constraints. In these cases, it’s important for teams working together on site (whether they’re architects or subcontractors) to communicate effectively so everyone stays informed.
The importance of communication between management teams and workers cannot be overstated: when organisations fail at engaging directly with employees regarding quality issues then employees will inevitably feel marginalised by management decisions made without input from frontline staff members.
Without good communication, teams will not be able to collaborate effectively and efficiently—which can lead to poor outcomes. The same principle applies to management teams and workers. In particular, it’s important for management to communicate with their employees about quality assurance policies in a way that fosters ownership on both sides. For example, if a manager is working on implementing a new quality assurance plan at their construction site, they have to make sure that they take time to explain why this policy is important and what its purpose is. The manager should also explain how the new policy addresses an issue that was affecting their business before (e.g., poor safety record). This kind of shared ownership can help foster buy-in from all parties involved and improve compliance with quality assurance protocols going forward.
The need for a deeper understanding of what quality assurance means
One of the important steps in translating the quality assurance policy into construction site practices is to understand how the concept of quality is perceived by management and site workers.
Management’s perceptions are formed by their own experiences, previous projects, and their attitude toward risk. They tend to equate quality with safety, which includes avoiding adverse events such as accidents or work delays. This can lead them to focus on things like checking for defects in materials and equipment before they are used on a project, controlling the number of incidents that occur during construction activities, and ensuring that these incidents are dealt with correctly afterward (for example by reporting them).
Site workers perceive quality differently because they have different experience levels than managers do: they may not have had much experience working within a formalised quality assurance system before coming onto the project. They might have never worked in an environment where safety was so highly valued and they may have little understanding of the importance of controlling risks on a construction site. They focus more on ensuring that work is done promptly and to specification, which allows them to complete tasks within their working hours. So managers need to understand how these two different perceptions of quality can affect the way that safety and quality assurance are implemented on site.
How documentation improves construction quality
A key aspect to consider is job documentation and record-keeping. Clear records of quality assurance activities should be maintained and updated on a regular basis. This includes the daily reports from construction site visits, material test results, contractor certifications, and other related documents. Having accurate records helps ensure that all parties involved are held accountable for their performance throughout the project lifecycle.
Documentation plays a key role in the construction process, as it allows teams to:
- Identify and appropriately manage risk.
- Ensure compliance with industry standards and building codes.
- Meet client’s expectations for quality workmanship on time and within budget.
The quality assurance data collection process is an essential step to ensure that these goals are achieved. It allows managers to collect information about the status of the project’s quality management practices so that they can identify areas where improvements can be made going forward. If a defect occurs during construction, this information will help them identify how best to address it as quickly as possible—and prevent rework or wasted labour costs down the line!
Once it’s documented, the quality management team can use defect-related data to identify opportunities for improvement. For example, if a particular checklist is used frequently and there are often defects related to it, then it’s likely that the process needs improvement. The quality management team should look at ways of preventing these types of defects in the future by changing the process or improving training on how to do things correctly.
Quality documentation is also essential for training new members of the team. For example, if there is a new person who’s just joining the team, then they must get trained on how to do their job correctly. The best way to ensure this happens is by having clear instructions written down in a checklist or procedure manual so that everyone can refer to it when necessary.
By implementing these practices and following quality assurance policies, construction management professionals can ensure that their projects are of the highest quality and comply with safety regulations. With clear guidance on how to meet expectations, both contractors and project teams can focus on completing the job successfully while minimising risks associated with defective or substandard workmanship. By understanding the importance of contractor selection, job documentation, and communication between all parties involved in a construction project, professionals can make sure that they adhere to quality assurance standards in order to protect their clients’ investments.
A quality assurance training program is an effective way of making sure all workers understand the importance of quality outcomes, and that they know how to achieve them. It’s a way of documenting the need for quality management, and how to do it the right way. Training programs are also a good way of documenting policies by providing information about what managers want them to learn from this policy before their next project starts up again.
Good quality assurance is not just about following the rules. It’s about taking a step back, seeing beyond processes, and realising that training can help improve worker safety outcomes and similar outcomes can be improved in quality assurance as well. The biggest gap between decision-makers and workers when it comes to quality assurance is that they often don’t perceive quality the same way. This can be addressed by evolving training methods so that they take into account differences between managers and workers, ultimately bridging the gap between policy making and ground level actions at every construction site.