If you are a Quality Manager who has worked in at least 3 construction projects you would have probably started recognizing a pattern: other people on site (even your management sometimes…) hate you!
They don’t hate you personally but they hate your role and what you are trying to do.
Being a Quality professional in Construction involves fights, arguments and constant battles for “doing the right thing”…
Let’s face it and be honest with ourselves:
Programme is the king and money/profit is the queen in construction in industry.
There is only one strategy in this industry: the so-called “Fire fighting Strategy” which basically means extremely poor project management, short term planning and “winning-new-projects-is-all-we-care-about” strategies.
Quality Management on the other hand is all about proper planning and thoughtful risk assessment.
If these 2 are not done properly, you end up having a Quality Manager who is just there because the contract or the Client requires him to be there.
And that’s how others see him/her in reality.
But there are some other reasons too:
As QM, you have to establish some rules and procedures that every function/department/person has to follow. Many people would easily countersign these procedures/documents but how many would actually want to follow them? Who wants to follow rules and procedures after all?? Shortcuts is the way to go!
2. Shoot the Messenger
As QM, you will obviously need to carry out inevitable internal Audits to your colleagues from other departments. Eventhough nobody would deny to be audited , you are not really making their day, right? Who wants to be checked on their job after all?? Moreover, if the outcome of the audit is not good then…big arguments could start on what is an NCR, Observation etc. and what is not. People tend to perceive that as judgement of their job and you are the messenger of that critique after all. Messengers are usually shot…
3. Finger Pointing
You will be the first to be blamed when something goes wrong. By default. And then everything will become a finger pointing exercise on Quality professionals. Quality departments are always the easiest target , right?
4. The Paperwork Manager
Most of the times you will become the “Paperwork Manager” , instead of the Quality Manager. You will become the department from which everyone is expecting to compile the paperwork for them. Who likes paperwork in construction??? Nobody, right?
5. Quality Resources
You will always be asking for resources and you will never get them (ok…that applies to every role in every company but still..) . You will only get them when things have already gone wrong. Typical way of micro-managing and lack of pro-activeness in a construction project. Most of the times, things don’t go wrong and when they do go wrong (quality wise) there will be some commercial arrangements in place to work things out and come to an agreement with Clients and other stakeholders. Commercial Managers, QSs and Directors will find a way to settle things down. It’s not a secret that Quality professionals are never involved in such discussions… At the end of the day everyone will be happy and move on to the next without learning anything actually…Job Done!
6. Unnecessary Bureaucracy
People would always think that you waste their time with unnecessary things like NCRs, Audits, Management Review meetings, procedure writing and ITPs. It is true that these necessary things to a QMS are normally perceived as an unnecessary bureaucracic pain. Everybody believes that they must do these things because they have to. Only a few people will try to understand the real value in them. You have to make sure that these people belong to the Senior Management.
7. Lack of Awareness
People are not used to proper quality management in construction industry. It would be unthinkable to be on site without a Method Statement nowadays but can we say the same about ITPs for example…? That’s probably the biggest issue in my opinion and it’s all a matter of awareness.
I am obviously exaggerating… Construction is the most creative environment someone could work in. Engineering can be one of the most challenging and diverse areas someone can study.
Quality Management in construction suffers and several actions must be taken in order to change that.
ASQ in the USA and the CQI in UK are working towards that directions but they have to bring in the discussions the main Engineering and Construction institutions (Institution of Civil Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineer etc).
In my honest opinion the first thing that needs to be done is to introduce quality management in the civil engineering schools/universities.
The new civil engineers must know the value of ITPs and the benefits of “right first time” .
How many of the new graduate Civil Engineers know what an ITP is…?
In my experience, none!
They must be taught proper project and quality management and how to be proactive.
An Engineer is not necessarily a good Project Manager and this is something that nobody seems to accept or understand.
What’s your view on that?
Have you experienced any arguments and resistance from people at your project?