Construction quality management is an important pillar of project management for capital projects and refers to the policies, processes, and procedures put in place to provide quality assurance and quality control at construction sites. Inspections and tests are typically conducted by internal and external inspectors to assess concrete strength, welding quality, and soil compaction, among others. Inspections aim to assure that all components of a capital project are safe and up to code.
However, inspections and tests are just a small part of a successful and efficient quality management system. Quality management can be the difference between project success and project failure. Let’s delve a little deeper into how quality management issues arise and detail the top 10 tips for project owners.
How Do Quality Management Issues Arise?
While there are many reasons why construction quality management issues arise, some of the most common causes are as follows:
- Damaged, defective, or poor quality materials and products
- Lack of management involvement and support
- Multiple contractors or subcontractors with varying processes for quality management
- Issues with suppliers and vendors
- Poorly written contracts and subcontracts
- Scope growth due to a construction error, engineering error, or inefficiency caused by a lack of work process
- Lack of training and skills
- Poor supervision or lack of supervision
- Last-minute changes
- Insufficient communication between teams
Top 10 Construction Quality Management Tips for Project Owners
To avoid quality management issues, it’s important to follow best management practices to ensure the success of your project. Below we detail the top 10 construction quality management tips ranked according to importance.
- Implement Total Quality Management: Contractors should employ the concept of Total Quality Management (TQM) from pre-contracts through project completion. TQM is a process-oriented method used to cultivate effective collaboration, improve the quality of work, and reduce cost. The term “total” refers to the entire contracting organization, meaning all teams, departments, and functions are involved in quality management. TQM is a managerial and technological method to achieve quality requirements and business objectives throughout the entire organization.
The key principles of TQM include customer focus, employee involvement, process centering, integrated system, strategic and systematic approach, decision-making based on facts, communication, and continuous improvement. TQM should also include an inspection and test plan that will dictate the frequency of inspections for each discipline throughout the construction process.
- Avoid scope growth: Scope growth can often be avoided through proper work processes such as project controls, a well-defined scope, and a solid project execution plan developed in the early stages of the project.
- Apply quality assurance processes: Contractors should engage in specific procedures to ensure the specified project quality is accomplished. Such processes should detail inspection requirements, the frequency of inspections, and documentation.
- Enact quality control programs: Contractors define the project quality that will be managed during the construction stage of the project. Quality control documentation should include who is responsible for meeting quality standards and how such standards will be achieved, creating the framework for procedures and practices which ensure the completed project is on par with established quality standards.
- Ensure communication and cohesion: Work with a contractor whose teams work collaboratively as a single cohesive unit to maintain quality standards across all teams and disciplines.
- Include quality planning in kickoff meetings: Contractors should include quality planning in their kickoff meetings. This will allow for communication and alignment of the scope, inspection and test plan requirements, and execution methodology for the quality execution across the entire project team.
- Analyze individual work processes: Contractors should analyze individual work processes that are feeding specific activities of the job. When thoughtfully created and diligently followed, these roadmaps help drive consistent quality and ensure no steps or components are missed.
- Utilize full in-house capabilities: Contractors who have full in-house capabilities from detail engineering and design to construction can help ensure consistent quality across all project phases. Designing with a focus on constructability can provide design feasibility within the specified quality standards, schedule, and budget. This can also eliminate issues with miscommunication that is often seen when multiple contractors or subcontractors are involved.
- Hire multi-disciplinary inspectors: Quality inspectors should be multidisciplinary to understand the full scope of project requirements. In other words, they should not be disciplined in a single area such as piping or concrete but should understand the full spectrum of quality requirements.
- Use trusted vendors and suppliers: Contractors should only utilize preferred and trusted vendors and suppliers.
The H+M Approach to Construction Quality Management
At H+M Industrial EPC, we employ the concept of TQM with our core values of continuous improvement and customer satisfaction. We focus on work processes, employee training, and our feedback process through our Lesson Learned Program. Our robust and efficient QMS is scalable for all project types and sizes and is managed by our entire organization to ensure we meet or exceed your quality expectations.