After you deploy your construction quality assurance program, it’s important to make sure it’s working and that people are using the systems properly. In addition to making sure all your hard work isn’t for nothing, keeping your quality program on track also helps you justify the costs, demonstrate ROI, and get closer to the ultimate goal of first-time quality. Monitoring progress also keeps field personnel engaged and ensures compliance with the quality program.
What Should You Monitor?
The goal of monitoring is to make sure the systems are working as intended. When you defined your inspection process, you determined:
- Who should be doing inspections: QA, superintendents, subcontractors, etc.
- What inspections they should do: checklists for specific tasks and phases.
- When those inspections should be done: daily, weekly, milestones, etc.
- How the inspections should be completed: pictures, notes, checkpoints, etc.
These are exactly the things you should be monitoring: quality control, quality assurance plan, and quality metrics. If your quality assurance program is healthy, it means that the appropriate measures for quality control and quality assurance are in place.
This involves having the right individuals perform inspections at the designated times, using the approved methods. By implementing a quality assurance plan, you can establish guidelines and protocols for maintaining the desired level of quality. Additionally, incorporating quality metrics allows you to effectively measure and evaluate the outcomes of these inspections. It is essential to promptly identify any breakdowns or deviations in these elements, as it enables you to take timely corrective actions to address the issues.
How Do You Monitor It?
Some of the steps you can take to determine how well your quality program is working include:
Verify That Inspections Are Being Done
You know which inspections should be completed, so this is just a matter of making sure they are getting done. If you have an inspection and test plan (ITP), use it to automatically check the actual inspections against the scheduled ones, ensuring adherence to quality control procedures. If you don't have an ITP, you can verify compliance manually, monitoring key performance indicators such as construction progress on a rolling weekly basis. This allows you to determine what should have been inspected last week and match actual inspections to verify adherence to quality goals, identifying any missed inspections.
Evaluate the Quality of Inspections
An inspection is only valuable if it generates high-quality information. This means using checklists correctly, taking pictures, entering thorough notes, and using the quality system to address issues. When reviewing inspections, check for:
- Marking an item as FTQ only if it didn’t have to be corrected
- Pictures, when required show good detail
- Pictures that are clearly labeled
- Notes that are clear and communicate observations and issues
Look for Pencil-Whipping
If inspectors don’t understand the importance of inspections or if they are just assuming that everything is fine, they will go through the motions of performing an inspection without actually evaluating the item. You can identify this habit when:
- All items are marked “yes” or “FTQ” with few or no issues noted
- Items are physically marked on the jobsite but not noted as deficient in the system
- No notes or pictures are included
Review reports on a regular basis to look for these signs of pencil-whipping.
Track Closing of Deficiencies
When your quality program is working, deficiencies will be identified, recorded, and closed in a timely manner. Monitor this by:
- Ensuring that there is a record of deficiencies in the quality system
- Tracking the time to close deficiencies
- Making sure items cited in inspections are closed in the system
Identifying deficiencies is just one step in the inspection process. They must also be fixed and marked as corrected so you can ensure that items are being closed out quickly.
What Should You Do When Issues Arise?
A construction quality program relies on the competence of the people using it, making it essential to address issues promptly. If you encounter problems with field staff failing to meet your quality management expectations, it is important not to disregard them. Incorporating quality assurance programs and software quality assurance measures can strengthen your construction quality program. These measures ensure that your software systems adhere to the required standards. Additionally, prioritizing customer satisfaction plays a key role in delivering successful outcomes.
Do a daily scan of inspection reports so you can get a feel for both the deficiencies reported and the quality of the reports. Every few days, call an inspector to discuss what you see. This lets them know that you are paying attention, which can help reduce pencil-whipping and improve inspection quality. When necessary, provide coaching to demonstrate the correct way to perform an inspection. Make sure inspectors understand why these processes are in place, and explain the many benefits of a construction quality program.
Maintain the Momentum
Once you have addressed the initial challenges of implementing a quality management program, it is important to regularly review inspection reports to ensure adherence to data quality objectives. Conducting weekly or monthly inspections and self-audits will help ensure completion of inspections and closure of deficiencies while maintaining quality standards. These activities also provide valuable opportunities for the customer service team to identify and prioritize recurring issues in checklists.
The better the system functions, the more people will be engaged. When keeping your construction quality program on track, don’t forget to tell people what they’re doing well so they keep doing those things. Celebrate the successes, and let field personnel know when you have achieved first-time quality.