How to Manage Subcontractors and improve Quality Control


Image of men managing subcontractors

In construction projects, although defects are common problems that need to be dealt with routinely, their nature and type can vary dramatically – as can the point at which they become apparent. This is especially true when quality control procedures in construction are somewhat lacking.

At one end of the scale, minor deficiencies can often (but not always) be identified and easily corrected before the project handover. At the other extreme, more significant deficiencies may only make themselves known long after the original work is complete and require extensive and expensive remedial work to fix.

Large or small, major or minor – the nature of the business means construction defects are common. But who’s to blame for them – roofs that leak, pipes that burst, concrete that is under strength or structurally deficient, for example?

Then there are deviations from plans and specifications – the use of improper materials, failure to follow product installation instructions or not adhering to drawing details clearly outlined in the project’s documentation.

Often, the default response for dealing with chronic or repeated issues is to replace the offending personnel or under performing subcontractor. But is this guaranteed to solve the problem?

[FREE GUIDE] How to Quickly Improve Your Subcontractors Performance

Cause or Symptom?

While it is of course true that a persistently under performing subcontractor will slow a project down, increase costs and cause unnecessary delays – simply switching to a different subcontractor isn’t always the best solution.

For starters, you can’t be sure any new subcontractor you hire will be any better or worse than the one you’re currently working with. Then there is the issue of labor shortages – meaning your choice may be limited not to who you want, but who’s available. And we’ve seen craftsmen simply shift from the old sub to the new sub.  

In addition, the fact of the matter is that switching contractors isn’t as simple as changing a lightbulb. Breaking contracts  causes friction, further delays and disrupt the workflow of a project that is likely already suffering.

Which leads us onto the most important question of all – is there a better way?

The truth is that although it’s easy to blame subcontractors for incomplete work, deviations, and increasing lists of punch items, if you’re experiencing recurring problems that are similar in nature, it may be time to reevaluate your quality control procedures to try and change your subcontractor’s behavior and performance, rather than taking the knee-jerk reaction of changing the subcontractor itself.

Check out FTQ360's 4 Ways to Improve Subcontractor Performance:


What are Quality Control Procedures in Construction to Support Subcontractors

In the majority of cases, subcontractors have the same goals as you in the construction project – swift, zero-defect project completion, happy customers and sufficient profits. However, every time you need to call a crew back for rework, all three go out of the window.

The solution to returning both you and your subcontractor to streamlined, customer-satisfying profitability is to help prevent common deficiencies and defects from arising in the first place. This comes down to communication, transparency and improving quality control procedures with the aim of achieving first-time quality.

The fact is that the faster a general contractor can complete their role in your project and the less rework they have to perform, the more money they will make. This means that your subcontractors have a vested interest in first-time quality work as much as you do.

As such, having a standardized system in place to identify common deficiencies and address them as quickly as possible will help improve first-time quality and save all parties money.

The best way to do this is with quality control inspection software. With such a system in place, it’s a matter of simplicity to communicate all specifications and acceptance criteria to the subcontractor at the outset of a project.

With a construction management software like FTQ360, you can create and store all relevant documentation in the cloud from where it is instantly accessible to all personnel via a smartphone or tablet app.

This includes quality checklists, which, aside from being vital for communicating expectations and letting everyone know what will be inspected and when, are also an invaluable training tool.

Providing checklists will help your subcontractor understand precisely what is expected from their work. Plus, they can be further used to train field personnel on important details that should never be missed.

Recurring issues can be prioritized on the list so you can address the most important and frequent problems first.

Checklists will also help both you and your subcontractors keep a close eye on the performance of each crew member so any necessary additional training can be provided to those who need it most.

Quality control inspection in construction software also gives subcontractors a convenient and user-friendly tool to communicate any job-ready feedback they have with you as well.

If something is preventing the subcontractor from beginning work when they arrive on the job site – either a problem caused by a previous subcontractor, a safety issue, or anything else – they can use the system to deliver this feedback on the subcontractor's work.

This fosters a sense of partnership in which everybody uses the sa bme quality management system to communicate issues. This will help subcontractors see and understand that quality assurance is a collective endeavour, in which they play a crucial role.

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

Manage and Monitor General Contractors Performance and Improve First-Time Quality with FTQ360

Subcontractors that show up on-time and complete their work on-schedule to the desired specifications keep a project progressing. The opposite is also true – but simply changing a subcontractor won’t necessarily solve the problem.

A more effective solution for the long term is to get your subcontractors on board with a robust and reliable quality management program powered by quality control inspection software.

The best solutions on the market today include several tools for evaluating subcontractor performance, including inspection forms, a scoring and ranking process and reporting tools that will allow you to get to the root of any problems you are encountering.

You can use the software to track everything from arrival times to phase completion, callbacks, punch list items and corrective actions issued.

Once problems have been identified, the software can then be used to create a corrective action plan.

This can be done through the creation of checklists to communicate quality requirements, define the inspection process, identify problem areas, and discover where additional training may be necessary for subcontractor management.

Good quality inspection software also allows for the easy gathering and uploading of photographs, notes and documents against each item on the checklist so subcontractors can access all the information they need and provide proof of completed work, while the whole progress of the project is monitored and managed more effectively.

FTQ360 is designed to optimize quality control systems in construction. 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 with all subcontractors on board.

A powerful system like FTQ360 helps everybody succeed, enabling better communication and collaboration between all parties, helping both you and your subcontractors become more efficient, profitable and successful.

Get in touch to find out more or request a software demo today.  

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Subcontractor's Guide | FTQ360

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