One of the myths that we hear repeated time and again is that defining construction quality is difficult, and if you can’t define it then measuring and managing quality performance is near impossible.
We disagree. Defining quality is the first step—and the easiest one—and with the right tools and systems, measuring and managing performance can be seamlessly integrated into your daily workflow. That’s where quality management software comes in.
The Definition of Quality in Construction
Put simply, quality is getting it right the first time. The level of quality (low versus high) is the difference between the completed work and the project specifications, and how many attempts it takes you to meet them. At one end of the spectrum is first-time quality, or completing the job to specifications without any defects on the first attempt. On the other end is a job that requires multiple corrections and rework from subcontractors. The end result might be the same, but the path to get there can be quite different. Deficiencies lower quality even if they are corrected.
Measuring Quality in Construction
Subcontractor quality performance is measured by the percentage of work that is completed as first-time quality versus fixed. The higher the percentage, the higher the quality. The objective is always 100 percent. Now that you understand what quality is, the next step is to set up a system to measure it. While spreadsheets are a go-to data collection resource for many organizations, construction quality management software allows you to leverage the information in a way that Excel cannot.
Use Checklist Data
Including “First Time Quality” (FTQ) as well as “Fixed” and “Open” checkboxes, let’s you track work done right the first time versus work that needed to be fixed. In contrast, basic yes/no checkboxes offer no such quality management insights and thus won’t help you manage subcontractor performance. Checklists that collect the right data and store it in the cloud database are essential for measuring quality performance later.
Percent of First-Time Quality
The rate of first-time quality across multiple projects can show you how effective your performance improvement efforts are. It’s also important for this metric to be multidimensional so you can fully understand the data. For example, 95 percent first-time quality seems like a high score, but if the 5 percent represents a major error, it’s not necessarily cause for celebration. Numbers are important, but understanding the reasons behind them is equally critical.
Subcontractor Performance Scores
Include quality rating scores adds another level of understanding beyond standard deficiency counts when evaluating subcontractor performance. Here are two examples of where deficiency counts simply don’t paint a clear picture of subcontractor performance. First is when comparing a subcontractor that frequently does work for you with one that does less volume. The subcontractor that frequently works with you will naturally have a higher deficiency count simply because of the volume of work. On the other hand, regardless of volume, another subcontractor might have a low deficiency count, but those errors could have been significant. The only way to know how well a subcontractor performs and how they improve over time is by scoring the quality of their work.
Data collection is useless without a way to easily digest it. Dashboards are an important element of your construction quality management software and allow you to quickly see how subcontractors rank based on performance, which work tasks continue to have problems (e.g. often marked as Fixed instead of FTQ), and which checkpoints you can take off of your checklists because they are always marked as first-time quality. The more metrics you can see in a snapshot, the better able you are to make decisions.
Managing Quality in Construction
Once you have a system to collect and measure data, it’s time to use it. The information you gather with construction quality management software will allow you to make decisions that will help you get closer to first-time quality.
Measuring quality allows you to identify the subcontractors who have improved over time based on your feedback. These are the relationships to strengthen and nurture so you can work better together on future jobs.
Quality ratings allow you to make purchasing decisions based on more than just price. Going with the lowest bidder does not always yield the most cost-effective results, and your software can tell you this in just a few clicks.
Achieving Success for All
Using construction quality management software to its fullest potential allows you to get continually closer to 100% first-time quality, defect-free work. For customers, this means staying within the budget and completing the project on time to specifications. To contractors, this means optimizing budgets, keeping customers happy throughout projects, and motivating subcontractors to improve performance over time. For subcontractors, this means maximizing profits and building stronger relationships.
If you’d like to learn more about how construction quality management software can help you deliver first-time quality, contact us today.