Before we go on to explain why you should care about your quality maturity level, let’s start by exploring what maturity models and maturity levels are to begin with.
Essentially, a maturity model is a set of structured levels – traditionally five ascending levels portrayed as a pyramid – constructed of building blocks that describe behaviors and practices of an organization. The building blocks of the lower levels form the foundations for the levels above. In practice, maturity models are used to see practices that are already in place and can therefore can also be used to help pinpoint specific practices you need to implement to achieve your vision of your quality management system.
Maturity models are also a great way to benchmark your quality practices with the best in the construction industry. They can tell you how well you are doing in relation to your peers.
Having a theoretical model of what great performance looks like is all well and good, but how do you find out what level you are actually at? For that you need a Maturity Assessment – a qualitative method to measure the level of maturity across a number of dimensions related to the business function at hand. This assessment will usually be in the form of a questionnaire or an interview although sometimes an online assessment tool will be created to make it quicker and easier to complete. The added benefit of an online assessment is that the results can be generated automatically, and the maturity level calculated immediately.
Introducing First Time Quality excellence
The pinnacle of maturity for any construction quality management programs is First Time Quality – the ability to get every single aspect of the design and build right the very first time, every single time. Of course, that is an ambitious goal – a very ambitious goal – but it is the desired destination for many people who are serious about quality. And achieved by companies that put the right quality practices in place. Implementing industry best practices and achieving First Time Quality excellence is their north star, their guiding light. The Maturity Model is your map to first time quality.
Improving your construction quality program
So, you should care about your quality maturity level as it is a measure of how good your construction quality program is and where you are on your journey towards First Time Quality excellence.
Whilst there is a theoretical ‘Level Zero’ where there is no quality management activity at all, the FTQ360 Maturity Model uses four levels of capability from Basic and Professional to Advanced and Expert to benchmark individual quality management programs.
Level One: Basic
At level one, punch lists take center stage as quality efforts focus on finding and fixing deficiencies. Over time, more and more defects are caught in-house and customers find fewer defects.
Level Two: Professional
By level two, there are consistent quality inspection processes using checklists and the increase in accountability is starting to significantly reduce deficiencies. Quality to the customer will have improved dramatically and operating costs will have started to come down too.
Level Three: Advanced
At level three, dramatic deficiency reduction and quality program improvements have been achieved with a company-wide focus on First Time Quality. Management systems have evolved beyond mere compliance – ultimately reducing operating costs and improving customer satisfaction.
Level Four: Expert
By level four, most deficiencies are anticipated and proactively eliminated. Consistently achieving First Time Quality every time has helped your company to attract the best people and the best subcontractors. You are often the sole source for clients with difficult projects and there is a confidence that you will survive a downturn.
What are the drivers of construction quality best practice?
At FTQ360, our construction quality experts have built a Maturity Model that focuses on the key dimensions of quality management best practice.
This measures how well the quality function is implemented in the organization. Maturity levels range from having no-one at all in a full-time Quality Management position at one end of the spectrum, to having a Quality Manager in a senior leadership position fostering a culture of First Time Quality across the organization.
This gauges the role played by senior management. At one end of the maturity scale, the management team only gets involved when there is a major problem. At the other end of the scale, management actively leads the organization to embrace First Time Quality as a business priority and quality goals are integrated into personnel performance measures and bonuses.
This evaluates the approach and methods used to track defects. Low levels of maturity are seen when deficiencies are only fixed as and when they are found – or worse still when a customer has highlighted them. The highest level of maturity recognizes a Quality Management Program that strives for 100% First Time Quality throughout the construction process and continuously improves reliability and the company's quality capabilities.
This appraises the formal methods used to hold people to account. Despite doing their best to make sure the project is a quality one, some field personnel ultimately rely on customers to identify deficiencies and provide final acceptance of work completed. This is the lowest level of maturity. At the highest level, field personnel, foremen and subcontractors are all accountable for First Time Quality whilst the Quality Management team focuses on process delivery and improvement.
This assesses the extent and nature of forward planning activities.A low maturity score will be awarded when planned inspections consist mainly of customer hold points, code inspections, and final Punch Out with other inspections being conducted on an ad-hoc basis. High maturity scores are awarded when project quality planning teams implement just the right controls needed to ensure there is an error-proof design-and-build process to achieve 100% First Time Quality. For the very highest maturity score, these controls are guided by risk analysis and defined process quality capabilities.
This evaluates the formal processes used to dictate exactly who does what and when. Low levels of maturity are seen when field personnel decide what they inspect and when based on their own individual experience. The highest level of maturity recognizes inspection processes that extend to pre-construction design and engineering activities as well as a focus on risk-based prevention.
This measures the methods and approaches used for keeping defects under control.Maturity levels range from having field personnel using the customer's Punch Lists to understand what deficiencies need to be corrected at one end of the spectrum, to the very highest levels of First Time Quality performance at the other. This level of quality program sophistication allows for an immediate response to all deficiencies with less need for comprehensive Punch Lists, monitoring and controls.
This gauges the metrics and measures used to track quality performance. At one end of the maturity scale, quality performance is judged by the lack of customer complaints, back-charges incurred and insurance claims. At the other end of the scale, the number of First Time Quality defect-free inspections is the key measure of success enhanced by metrics for risk exposure, client satisfaction and revenue per employee.
This evaluates the formal procedures used to ensure continuous improvement. Low levels of maturity are seen when the default position for dealing with chronic and repeated issues is to replace the offending personnel or under-performing subcontractor. The highest level of maturity recognizes a Quality Management Program where team leaders throughout the company routinely make quality improvements in their area using a standard quality improvement process with the Quality Management team facilitating cross-functional improvement initiatives.
This assesses the use of technology to help streamline workflows. A low maturity score will be awarded when there is still a heavy reliance on chatting on the jobsite, cell phone calls and emails and when ad-hoc Punch Lists are created using spreadsheets with reminders sent by personal email. High maturity scores are awarded when the advanced analytics features of a construction Quality Management System (QMS) are used to improve First Time Quality performance. For the very highest maturity score, the scope of the QMS includes pre-construction quality planning through start-up and commissioning.
How to measure your current maturity level
Just by answering a few simple questions, we will establish just how sophisticated your Quality Management program currently is. We will score your performance across the ten key areas that impact your Quality Management program the most; organization, management, strategy, accountability, planning, processes, controls, measurement, improvement and technology.
Having completed the Maturity Assessment, not only will you receive an assessment of your current performance, you will also receive a Recommendations Report outlining the steps you need to take to improve – to move up to the next level. This report is something you can use yourself or share internally to garner support for a Quality Management program improvement initiative.So that’s a super simple way to assess the current maturity level of your Quality Management program and kick-start your improvement journey.
To take your own test now, just visit the FTQ360 Construction Quality Management– Maturity Assessment page and get started.
Over to you
We hope you found this blog article interesting and useful. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch. At FTQ360, we're serious about quality. If you are too, we'd love to talk.