Quality Procedures for a Construction Project

PROCEDURES

In order for a construction company or a construction project to function properly, internal processes and procedures that will set up the frame of its basic operational activities are almost always required .

ISO:9001 – 2008 clearly specifies which Procedures need to be documented in order to fulfill the standard’s minimum requirements.

These are the following 6:

  • Control of Documents
  • Control of Records
  • Internal Audits
  • Control of Nonconforming product (NCRs)
  • Corrective Actions
  • Preventive Actions (it might be included in the Corrective Actions Procedure as well)

UPDATE 2015: 

The new ISO:9001-2015 revision is out and it does not require any documented procedures at all.

Click here to find out all the new changes that the new ISO:9001-2015 is bringing into construction industry.

Taking into acount the complexity of (especially) the bigger infrastructure projects like Commercial Buildings, Hotels, Marine Projects, Highways, Tunneling, Rail or Airports ,  it’s quite difficult to set up a Quality Management System only with these 6 procedures.

Even if you manage to do so, in the beginning, it is almost certain that you will probably be asked by your Client or Client’s representatives to demonstrate how many of the other processes work in the Project. This is to make him (the Client) sure that everything is working as it should be or there might even be a specific clause in the Contract obliging you to document them.

construction workers

So, some of the most common aditional procedures/processes that you might need to issue for a Project are:

  • Procurement and Logistics Procedure (commercial sensitive)
  • Codification of Documents and Drawings (it might be included in the Doc.Control procedure)
  • Design Procedure (extremely critical procedure in which you specify how the Deisgn of the project is being undertaken-in case of a Design-Build contract mainly)
  • Subcontracting Procedure (also very critical in order to demonstrate that you manage properly your subcontractors)  
  • Temporary Works Procedure (safety sensitive for all the temporary works that exist on site and the way their design and construction are managed)
  • Management of Plant & Equipment (along with maintenance plans and inspection regimes)
  • Handover, As-Built and Completion Procedure (useful so that you finally handover all of the records to the Client on time)
  • Inspection and Quality Control Procedure (specifying the basic framework of the inspections that performed on site)
  • Surveying and Setting out Procedure
  • Material Approvals (specifying how the permanent materials will be inspected and approved by the Client)
  • Reporting Procedure (describing the format and the frequency of the reports required by the contract)
  • Cost Control Procedure
  • Administration & Correspondence
  • Calibration Procedure
  • Assessing Client satisfaction
  • Request for Information Procedure (RFI)
  • Design Field Change Procedure (for changing parts of the design on site because of several restrictions)
  • Training Procedure

The list can literally be endless and it can of course be adjusted according to the needs and the contractual requirements.

There are of course numerous other procedures for Health, Safety, Environment, HR, Accounting but we are only dealing with the Quality stuff here.

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However, the simplest you keep your system, the easier will be for the people who are going to implement it (that’s a big discussion for another post…). Otherwise you end up having a system that no one is following, no one has ever read in the Project and it only exists in order to make the external auditors and your Clients happy .

Is that really what you want as Quality professional in construction ?

Do we really want to create a bureaucratic Quality Management system which is just adding one more headache to the Engineers and the Project Managers?

The best single advice is (as for almost everything in life): keep it simple!

But this is where it becomes tricky and harder than most of the people think.  

As Leonardo Da Vinci said hundreds of years ago:

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

What are the Quality Procedures/Processes that you are using on site?

Share your experience in the comments below.

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  • BillMM1

    My favorite quote is from W. Edwards Deming; “If you can not describe what you are doing as a procedure, you don’t know what you are doing.”

    One of the most beneficial results of a good QC program is everyone wins. The owner receives a quality product, and the contractors make more money by not having to do rework and warranty work. Unfortunately, most contractors haven’t learned that they actually make higher profits by doing top quality work on a well scheduled project.

    The QCM should be working closely with the project management and contractors to make sure the plans and specs are complete. The schedule should be clear and tight. QC should verify the work is up to specs before the next trade or phase continues.

    If everyone on the project understands the quality standard is very high, it is surprising how well a project can be moved along while maintaining an exceptional level of workmanship and quality.

  • NIP

    I agree. It very important that the QC regimes and programmes (Inspection and Test Plans) are all agreed before even any construction starts on site.
    It is extremely time consuming and stressful trying to agree what you need to inspect, with what frequency and according to what criteria when the construction is on-going and the guys on site want to move on. This causes last minute approvals, NCRs that nobody cares, and finally a product with possible defects.

    So, there has to be a great effort during the planning period and this is something that Project Managers and Contractors have to understand at this early stage.

  • Dave

    Good post. The writer understands the reality of having an overly complex QMS procedure development and implementation program. Overly complex QMS will ultimately demoralize everyone expected to conform to the standards and discredit the quality program. We’ve had enough subjecting our companies to the “latest and greatest” quality programs as they tend to blow through and are gone just as fast as they are introduced. With ISO-type procedures, start with the stakeholders and focus on the 90-10 rule. Development teams should not get bogged down by the “what ifs” that only happen 10% of the time. Those issues can usually be mitigated outside of the specific written procedure when guided by the principles of the documented Quality Mission Statement and the stated Quality Objectives of the company. Keep in mind that continual improvement is not just another thing you do; it’s HOW you do everything. Always start with milk and graduate to meat when introducing and implementing your written program.

  • NIP

    Most of the times in construction industry, companies don’t focus enough on continuous improvement. There are a lot of resources spent on analysing and correcting what went wrong (mainly on site) but almost nothing spent on preventing it. As a result, we end up writing NCRs on site during the construction phase, when it’s probably too late to eliminate the root cause. one of the main principles of root cause analysis is that “it takes time to eliminate it and long term planning”. This is usually impossible during the rush of the construction phase and there has to be a “Lessons learnt” campaign from one Project to the next one, if we finally need to prevent a nonconformity from happening again.

  • Ken

    Who is NIP?

  • NIP

    Hi Ken,

    I am part of the team who started qualityinconstruction.com.

    You can see my profile on LINKEDIN here.

    uk.linkedin.com/pub/paul-inglesis/12/961/78b/

  • Peter Smith

    Interesting eBook! However, it might probably need to be updated soon after the new revision of ISO:9001 will come out.

  • Need2Cash

    Yes, we (the DCD) have a team of design and construction quality professionals together ready to interpret the standard and explain each clause for all members of the project team (Owner/PM, Designer, Contractor) just as soon as the DIS (Draft International Standard) is available.

    It will also include a chapter on developing process-based management systems and another on making the system information electronic accessed by smart phones, iPads and other tablet computers.

    The Committee Draft currently out for review is not close enough to the finished product for us to start work on interpreting it yet..

  • NIP

    That’s very interesting. I am looking forward to the new edition!