If you’re looking for quality management software for construction companies and the construction industry as a whole, it's important to understand the differences between the available options. For example, most software is designed to address only the quality-control and quality specifications component of quality management. Although this is an essential part of a quality control system, the software you choose should also allow you to address the other elements of quality management in your construction projects—quality planning, quality improvement, document management, quality assurance and even project management to an extent.
If you're ready to go beyond the basics of quality control processes and quality control as a whole for your construction project, here's what to look for:
Best-in-class construction quality control software goes beyond just the most basic quality-control features, which include:
- Inspection checklists with Yes/No/NA checkboxes
- Pictures and notes for observations by the inspector
- Punch lists with due dates and assignments to subcontractors
- Inspection reporting by project and task
- Outstanding punch-list reports and email reminders when tasks are overdue
- Issue-count reports
In addition to the items on this list, look for data-collection fields that help you encourage quality improvement to increase customer satisfaction. These often include inspection checklists with checkbox options that differentiate between work that is done right the first time, work that has been fixed, and work that still needs to be fixed. This allows you to see the percentage of work that is being done right the first time and provides more information than a deficiency count.
Read 6 Steps to Implement New Quality Management Software
A best-in-class quality and construction management software solution goes beyond observations with pictures and notes. It also includes additional space for corrective-action notes and pictures. This gives the quality manager a complete picture of the issue and the actions taken to correct it as well as the project progress in relation to those issues. Additionally, providing a way for subcontractors to leave notes, comments, and pictures of corrected work saves superintendents and compliance inspectors precious time and resources, because they can monitor corrected work without having to revisit the job site. With most software, there is no closure after the inspection.
Additional quality-control features to look for include:
- Multidimensional data fields for risk factors, cost, and reasons for deficiency
- Dynamic checkpoints for inspectors to choose or not, depending on the situation
- GPS location tagging
- Standardized corrective-action codes
- Electronic-signature sign-off for proof-of-compliance acknowledgement
- Job-ready tagging
- Scoring of key performance indicators
- Hotspot/high-risk issue tagging
At the heart of a quality management system is the improvement process. This is the ongoing, iterative effort to reach the gold standard of quality, in which all work is performed with zero defects and is delivered on time and on budget with 100 percent first-time quality. Good quality management software will include advanced features for capturing quality-control data and will present this information in easy-to-understand dashboards and interactive drill-down reports with highly filterable data down to the checkpoint level. Having this information readily available allows you to quickly identify areas in need of attention and prevent issues through training, adding high-risk items to checklists, and communicating best practices to subcontractors and crews.
Quality planning is an important element of construction quality management, and your software should support the scheduling of inspections and tests to prevent missed inspections. Look for quality management software that allows you to create an inspection and test plan and generate reports, so you will know whether all of your planned items have been completed in the right order and whether or not the inspections passed.
This type of feature is extremely useful when managing large, multi-year projects with hundreds, if not thousands, of inspections and tests to be performed each month. For example, if you have a project with 50+ floors, with dozens of units on each floor and each unit requiring multiple inspections, it can be quite challenging for the quality manager to verify that all inspections and tests were performed and tracked to completion. In the area of turnover and commissioning, large projects may require hundreds of inspections and test reports that can’t be missed. Best-in-class quality management software enables you to confirm that all planned inspections have been completed.
Quality assurance in construction is about taking a proactive approach by putting systems and processes in place to prevent errors and deliver first-time quality work to your clients. Having good quality management software is important to achieving this goal, but you also need access to quality management experts who can help you create the systems and processes that will work for your company. The project team members and project managers alone do not have all the tools and knowledge necessary for the task. In addition to the features that allow you to implement a quality assurance plan, look for a provider that has the expertise to help you create or refine your plan. In many cases, this means choosing software that is dedicated solely to quality management, rather than adding on a module to an enterprise system.
Just like business management, quality management is essential for construction companies. Software that has been developed by people with expertise in construction quality management with the aid of construction professionals for construction businesses will stand out because it will be designed to grow with you and provide the support you need as you grow. Remember, your QA/QC software should help you build a database of knowledge and improve your current construction process. Even if you're not ready to use some of the more advanced quality management features to address your quality issues, you will want them in the future. So start with software you can grow with. If you'd like to test-drive a program that has all these features and the ability to streamline your existing quality processes, schedule a live demo with FTQ360 today.