Punch lists are a time-honored industry standard in construction. The customer and contractor do a walk-through of the jobsite and prepare a typically paper-based list that documents any defects that do not conform to the contract specifications.
The list is handed back to the contractor, who must then see to it that all reparations are made before receiving payment.
We all know that the most important thing is to get all loose ends fixed up as quickly as possible so you can get paid and move onto the next project.
As ever, time and costs are of the essence – but, as a project draws to a close, receiving a list as long as a crane-arm is unwelcome. In fact, if quality management and control hasn’t been baked into the construction of the project from the outset, you might come out of the walk-through feeling like your profits are surely bleeding away..
The Costs of Reactive Quality Control
For construction managers, any rework required on a project means reduced productivity and extended project timelines that erode profitability. You don’t get paid for any of the time- effort you put into the rework and you still incur costs for every day you have to keep the lights on.
In fact, you may have to pay more. If the required rework cannot be performed within time constraints, you risk penalties, breach of contract, warranty claims, and even legal consequences.
Looking at the wider picture, having to constantly perform rework on your construction projects can do untold damage to your company’s reputation, which will inevitably lead to loss of future business.
In addition, rework can lead to low morale on the jobsite, as it is ultimately field personnel who bear the brunt of any required punch work. Field personnel like the satisfaction of getting things done – but hate it when it is picked apart and they have to do it all over again. When they finally complete the project, the worst part of the job is the freshest memory. But it could be the best.
Beating Them to the Punch – The Benefits of First Time Quality
In essence, relying on customer punch lists amounts to reactive quality control. And you are not the one in control.
When quality control is reactive, defects are only identified after other work has been done, meaning that quality issues can risk going undetected until they manifest as even larger problems at the punch list stage, increasing the amount of rework – along with the time and costs required to carry it out.
Instead, take a proactive first-time quality (FTQ) approach, designed to prevent errors from occurring in the first place.
Aiming for first time quality involves a structured schedule of inspections and the right tools such as quality control inspection software to carry them out in an efficient and structured manner.
At first, it may seem as if adding layers to an already complicated construction process might be more of a hindrance than a help. But proactively aiming for first time quality can actually simplify the process and produce a measurable return.
For starters, carrying out ongoing inspections at the time the work is completed, leads to potential issues being identified much sooner. Catching mistakes early means you can easily isolate the issue, fix it, and prevent it from happening on other parts of the project. You save on costly and time-consuming rework being performed later on, reducing overall project costs and improving profits for your company. In other words, the more you can improve quality during the construction process, the shorter your punch lists will be at the end of it. And the less time and resources you have to invest into correcting errors on the existing project, the quicker you can move onto the next one.
Indeed, integrating proactive quality control measures throughout the construction process will also help you maintain your timeline goals by avoiding delays caused by unnecessary rework or safety issues.
And this has further bottom-line benefits, as consistently delivering zero-defect, first time quality work within schedule improves customer satisfaction, helping you retain clients and increase sales while boosting your reputation.
Achieve First Time Quality with FTQ360
How is first time quality achieved?
The first thing is stop relying on your customers’ punch lists to identify and fix deficiencies.
Being proactive means just that – implementing a construction quality program that proactively seeks possible deficiencies and prevents them before the work is completed. And to learn from mistakes. To do so, you will need to move away from punch lists and towards a managed approach to quality.
In today’s world digital tools are essential for effective communication, collaboration, and document-sharing between all stakeholders that are involved in the project – including employees, subcontractors and inspectors.
Quality control inspection software solutions like FTQ360 enable you to store all documentation relevant to a project in the cloud from where it is instantly accessible to all personnel via a smartphone or tablet app. This is crucial when it comes to achieving first time quality, for it means that the whole team has ready access to acceptance criteria – including the customer’s contract specifications, minimum code standards and any project-specific preferences.
When all project participants understand what the desired outcome is, the better able they are to get the job done right to the required specifications - the first time.
Next, you will need an inspection plan, so you know that you are consistently meeting all acceptance criteria as the project progresses. All team members need to know precisely what will be inspected, when inspections will take place and who is responsible for carrying them out.
Using a quality control inspection software system like FTQ360, a detailed inspection plan can be created in advance, allowing you to not only determine what will need to be inspected, when and by whom, but keep track of all necessary inspections so you always know which ones have been completed.
This is all rendered simple and efficient with app-based quality inspection checklists, which can be shared with the team prior to the commencement of the project.
When used correctly, checklists communicate critical requirements of a project, allowing field personnel to better understand how the work they are doing will be defined as acceptable.
With a solution like FTQ360, hundreds of field-proven checklists are ready to use straight out of the box – and all can be easily modified or adapted to meet an individual project’s precise quality control requirements. Then, as deficiencies are identified, the app can be used to assign somebody to fix it, document the fix, approve it against acceptance criteria, before finally closing the item as complete.
As always, prevention is better than cure. Identifying quality issues before starting work or moving on to the next phase can significantly reduce the length of your punch lists and so the amount of rework needed later on. This can have a major impact on overall project costs, timelines and customer satisfaction – all of which will increase your profitability.
FTQ360 software is designed to optimize your quality inspection process.
With more than 600 built-in checklists for all types of general construction that can be customized as needed – as well as dedicated checklists for specialty construction trades – FTQ360 will help you accelerate towards first time quality excellence.
You can also add notes and take pictures during inspections, with all data updated and communicated in real time so you can make decisions fast and keep the project driving forwards.
And with powerful analytics, automated communications – including alerts, notifications, and reminders – and the ability to create and document inspection reports in the field, FTQ360 allows you to reduce your reliance on customer punch lists to fix deficiencies and deliver greater quality in construction.