6 Best Practices to Improve Construction Quality Control Today

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There is no doubt that a construction quality control checklist, aided by construction quality management software, is an essential element in the effort to improve construction quality control for construction companies. However, not all checklists are as useful as they could be.

Some might help you improve your quality control process, while others will just serve as a list to ensure quality standards are never subpar. Construction quality management software can enhance the usefulness of checklists by providing a centralized platform for creating, distributing, and tracking checklists, as well as analyzing data collected from completed checklists to identify trends and areas for improvement.

If you're taking the time to create and use checklists for your construction projects, make sure you are getting the most from them by following a few recommended best practices.

If you’re taking the time to create and use checklists for your construction projects, make sure you are getting the most from them by following a few recommended best practices.

 

The Purpose of a Quality Control Checklist

The first step in achieving excellence with any process (even before pre-project planning) is understanding why you are doing it.

The primary two reasons for using checklists as part of your quality control process are to:

  1. Create heightened awareness of high-risk or high-probability issues
  2. Provide a record of the inspection and what was inspected

 

Learn more about FTQ360'S 6 Essential QAQC Functions For Construction Projects

 

Some of the other purposes checklists serve include:

  • Creating a consistent, structured inspection process that adheres to quality requirements
  • Recording both compliant and non-compliant issues with notes and pictures
  • Collecting and recording field data
  • Collecting raw data to help with quality management and improvement
  • Collecting pictures and measurements sufficient for off-site personnel to complete a virtual inspection
  • Accomplishing enhanced project performance with a consistent system and structure

Bear all these goals in mind as you develop new checklists and refer to this list to confirm that they serve the intended purpose.

How to improve Quality in Construction

In order to. improve construction project quality, you must understand the factors that impact quality. Variability in the weather, materials, and workmanship are the top culprits of poor quality.

While you can’t do much about the weather, you can take steps to mitigate material and workmanship variability. Managing variability in materials and workmanship is largely a matter of effective quality control during the various phases of a construction project.

Here are a few tips to improve quality in construction:


As a construction company, it is essential that you keep a close eye on the design and planning phase. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of the project requirements, including functional and aesthetic design elements.


Put quality control measures in place during the procurement phase. In order to select the materials and equipment that best meet your project requirements, you need a thorough understanding of the available options.


Follow a quality control checklist throughout the construction phase. Doing so will help you to identify potential issues early and correct them before they become major problems.

Your Quality Checklists: Done right, First time

In the construction industry, a quality control checklist is used to evaluate and verify that all the tasks in a project are completed before calling it a successful project. Our quality checklists are used by the construction oil and gas and commissioning industries to ensure compliance with their quality programme.

6 Quality Checklist Best Practices

How you develop and use a checklist is just as important as the items that are on it. To truly improve construction quality control, your checklists must be as usable and short as possible. Follow these best practices to help you and your construction team get the most from your checklists:

  1. Do Not Reproduce the Specification
  2. Focus on the Most Common Issues
  3. Keep Your Checkpoints Concise
  4. Use the Right Features for Each Checkpoint
  5. Make Your Quality Control Checklists Future-Proof
  6. Use the Right Language

1. Do Not Reproduce the Specification

While it is important to inspect to the full scope of the specifications, including the entire thing will make your checklist much less useful. Specs are lengthy documents that often include hundreds of pages of requirements.

This makes for a cumbersome checklist, but the biggest danger is that the most important high-risk items will become buried and ignored. This significantly reduces the value of your checklist, so take the time to reference the spec and extract the essential information—but don’t reproduce it.

Learn more about FTQ360'S 6 Essential QAQC Functions For Construction Projects

2. Focus on the Most Common Issues

Do not create an extensive list of checkpoint items that always pass just for the satisfaction of checking boxes. This might feel good, but it’s not actually useful.

Make sure the checkpoints are the necessary ones, you can ensure that by checking the ones that have been sufficiently proven through extensive industry use and have been validated.

This will keep them top of mind and enable you to address them more consistently.

Periodically review your checklists and remove items that pass 100 percent of the time (and celebrate them). This is also a good opportunity to add any new, recurring issues that have arisen.

Break this rule only when failure of a high-risk item could be a disaster.

Do not create an extensive list of checkpoint items that always pass just for the satisfaction of checking boxes.

3. Keep Your Checkpoints Concise

Remember the number one reason to create a checklist? It’s to create heightened awareness of high-risk or high-probability issues.

>To do this, it’s important to keep your checkpoints concise and limited to a smaller number.

If your checklist is made up of known issues that field personnel see from time to time, field personnel will be more accepting of using the checklist because it resonates with them as a useful tool.

4. Use the Right Features for Each Checkpoint

Every checkpoint has a slightly different purpose, so use the appropriate features when you develop your checkpoints. Consider:

  • Checkboxes used to display the status (hint: Pass/Fail is not enough)
  • How data is collected in fields and tables
  • Free-form observation notes and comments
  • Pictures with markup, timestamps, and GPS location
  • Direct access to reference documents, plans, and specs (file or by hyperlink)
  • Reference images of work done correctly to teach/train on what to look for
  • Instructions for inspectors
  • The reason for a reported issue (damage by others, workmanship, material defect, and so on)
  • The corrective action required to solve a reported issue (repair, replace, training)
  • Priority of the item
  • Due date of the item
  • Primary and secondary responsible parties for work performed and issues found
  • Collection of ratings for performance

It’s important to remember that not every item must be used all the time. Tailor each checklist to include only the applicable items and eliminate any that are unnecessary.

It also helps field inspectors operate more efficiently when checklist items are categorized in a way that enables sequential work.

For example, a room-by-room checklist versus one for all the electrical work on a project.

5. Make Your Quality Control Checklists Future-Proof

The second most important reason to use checklists is to provide a record of inspection.

Your checklists should allow the inspector in the field to take pictures and notes so they can provide a virtual inspection experience to viewers of the checklist.

While the project is underway, a virtual inspection enables others to have confidence that the work and the inspection were done correctly.

In the future, it protects you by providing a record so you can trace responsibility if there is damage to the work later in the project. 

6. Use the Right Language

Checkpoints should be as specific as possible so that field personnel, inspectors, and anybody else who reads them has a clear understanding of what each item intended.

Some of the language you should avoid includes starting a checkpoint with “verify” or using words such as “proper,” “correct,” or “to specs.” Include specific metrics such as measurements, temperatures, and tolerances to provide complete data for future readers.

Checkpoints should also be presented as declarative statements rather than questions to provide the greatest clarity.

Final Thoughts

These are just a handful of best practices for creating checklists to improve construction quality control and make your construction process stress-free.

It’s a lot to digest, so if you need a starting point, check out the dynamic checklists that FTQ360 provides and start a free trial to test them for yourself.

We suggest your entire project team takes a quality assurance and control first approach towards your projects. It is a best practice that will improve your projects significantly.

Construction quality management software

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