Inspection and test plans (ITPs) have been used for military construction for years, but they are becoming increasingly popular for all types of construction for a number of reasons. An ITP is essentially a checklist of required inspections. It’s a plan that lists what tests and inspections should be performed throughout each phase of a project. As a major component of an overall project quality plan, it’s important to understand what an ITP is, reasons to use one, and how to get the most from it in your own projects.
Why Use an ITP?
If you’re not using this valuable tool, there are several reasons to consider adding ITPs to your quality management program even if your contract does not require them. Starting with an ITP plan makes it clear to people on the project what they’re supposed to do. It also shows clients what they can expect during each phase of work. As the project progresses, the ITP shows you which tests and inspections have been completed and which ones are still to come. Using an ITP as part of your quality management process helps hold people accountable for doing the necessary inspections. In many cases, an inspection can’t be completed later if it was missed. An ITP helps avoid this potential problem and ensures that your quality plan stays on track.
What Is Included in an ITP?
An ITP includes all of the required inspections and tests for a project, typically with fields for:
Test or inspection required
Frequency of tests or inspections
Required inspector types
Party responsible for the work being inspected
Inspection completion dates
Notes and comments
Hold points where approval must be given before work can proceed
In many cases, the relevant section of the specifications is also included for easy reference. Each line item is a distinct feature of work that has been identified before the project starts.
How Do You Create an ITP?
If you have never done it before, creating an ITP can feel like an impossible task. How can you possibly develop every test and inspection that has to be done on a project? The good news is, you don’t have to define all of the details of every inspection checklist. You just have to create an outline to follow based on the contract, specifications, and construction schedule.
Start with a close review of the specs, but don’t stop there. Look at the construction schedule and identify tasks that should be inspected as features of work. Next, review your contracts with subs to establish the features of work that must be inspected prior to processing payments. Finally, identify the major milestones when critical inspections must be completed. These are typically at the end of a phase or prior to other work getting covered up.
For longer projects, you don’t have to develop a complete ITP at the beginning. Instead, you can create an ITP for each phase. Starting with an ITP plan template also helps remove the barrier because you just have to customize it for each project.
How Software Can Enhance an ITP
Although it’s possible to create an ITP using paper forms, modern technology has made it much easier to outline the plan, link it to the relevant documentation, and track progress. Using software to manage your ITPs allows you to see valuable information at a glance, such as:
Tests and inspections that have been completed
Those that have been started but not yet completed
Inspections that are coming up
Percent complete of the entire ITP
Software also allows you to have all of the documents at your fingertips, so if you want to review an inspection checklist that has already been completed, you just have to click and you can see who the inspector was, when it was completed, scores on individual checklist items, and any associated notes. You can also set up dependencies and alerts to ensure that no inspections are missed and easily create reports for clients who want to see ITP progress and the percent complete.
Whether you have to create an ITP to win a contract with a new client or you simply want to employ quality management best practices on all of your jobs, using inspection and test plans will only help you improve quality. Starting with an ITP plan template and using software to gather data and track progress is the most efficient way to use this valuable tool. If you’d like to learn more about how FTQ360 can help you start using ITPs for your projects, get in touch today.