A Manager's Guide to Construction Quality Management.
It is possible to spend 20 minutes a day managing project quality if you have the right tools and are smart about how you use them. The chosen tools leverage your time by bringing actionable information to your attention, then doing something.
- Plan what should be inspected next week. There is no accountability without responsibility, so make a list of what should be inspected and the job position that will do the inspecting. You can use your inspection and test plan (FTQ-ITP) and/or schedule to help with this. If you don’t have a QC staff, it should be your superintendents or supervisors doing the inspections. Limit your management inspections to an audit/surveillance role. 10 minutes per week/2 min. per day.
- Daily, scan inspection reports. Automatically get an email with all inspections from the day before (auto FTQ-399c). Flip through the reports to get a feel for the issues as well as the quality of information provided by the inspectors. At least every few days, call one of them to discuss what you see. They learn that you are reviewing their inspections and will up their game to impress you. 5 minutes per day.
- Make inspection reports a requirement for schedule task completion and purchase order payments. Use your management software to identify missed inspections and tasks (FTQ-What's Next Priority). Holds inspectors accountable for completing their inspections in a timely manner. 5 minutes.
- Validate reporting of deficiencies during normal jobsite walks. Look for marks on work or repairs not reported. 0 minutes extra (plus coaching time as needed).
Punch Items and Deficiencies
Secondly, manage current punch items and deficiencies. If your staff is still using old punchlist methods (i.e. paper, pencil and spreadsheet), show them how to use cloud-based punch list tools. Let the system automatically email you and your subcontractors daily reports of inspections, punch items, and overdue deficiencies. Then you can focus on managing instead of administrating.
- Daily, monitor the overdue punch item deficiency report (auto FTQ-407b). This report tells you that there was a problem that people thought should be fixed by now. Jump in to help if your experience says your field staff may need some horsepower to get a problem resolved. 2 minutes per day.
- Weekly, review your entire backlog of open punch item deficiencies (online FTQ-405b, auto FTQ-405g). Use open punch list deficiency reports to see each subcontractor’s backlog of open items. If a subcontractor is getting behind on its deficiencies, invite them to a meeting for a review. In time, your staff and subcontractors will learn to stay on top of their deficiencies – it only to stay ahead of your inquiries. 10 minutes per week/2 minutes per day (plus meeting if necessary)
Third and last, use the inspection data to improve. Have the system automatically email responsible parties their inspection history (auto FTQ-329 weekly). Review summary reports to see which responsible parties have the highest number of deficiencies and which work tasks (across all projects) have the highest number of issues. Improvements will be made to issues that are well documented and known by everyone involved. No surprises!
- Don’t waste time listening to complaints. If it’s not important enough to record on an inspection report, it’s not important to you either. Explain that you need facts to fix the problem and gossip doesn’t help. Inspectors will learn to record issues just in case they need your help later. 0 minutes
- Monthly, review quality performance for the purpose of improvement. Prepare by running online reports of recent inspections, history of deficiencies, and quality performance reports (auto FTQ-324c). Study them and get some insights from your staff. Home in on recurring deficiencies and come up with an action plan. 20 minutes per month
Even though this plan averages less than 20 min per day (plus occasional meetings) it is a bit optimistic. Regardless of how much time you estimate it will take, I think you’ll agree you can accomplish a lot with your QA/QC program (in a reasonably small amount of time) if you follow my approach.