Improving Construction Quality using Collaborative Software Platforms

Improving Construction Quality using Collaborative Software Platforms

Ideally, every construction project would be completed right the first time. However, most projects are complex, multi-disciplinary, multi-company endeavours facing daily changes. To help Land Sterling manage this volatility, we have implemented the ‘Procore’ collaborative construction management platform. This platform provides an at-a-glance view of what’s changed and what responses are needed. Using such tools, individual firms—and their teams—can apply a consistent and systematic approach to quality control, regardless of the construction methods deployed.

There are six main elements to successful quality control (QC) regime:

The quality plan
Quality control ensures that materials, products, and services comply with industry standards and customer requirements on construction projects. Usually, technical specifications define these deliverables and how they are created correctly and completed. A project-specific quality plan defines processes covering inspection and verification of approved work, along with a notification, rectification, further inspection, and sign-off of defective work. The quality plan is something to be shared across the project, from clients and designers, through contractors and subcontractors to individual workers; when all project participants understand the goal, they are better able to get it right the first time. The plan may also need to be periodically reviewed as a project progresses, while some lessons learned may also need to be captured so that errors are not repeated on future projects.

The inspection plan
A comprehensive, consistent, and systematic approach to inspection processes helps ensure tasks are completed according to standards and specifications. For example, project-specific inspection plans detail what needs to be inspected, when, and by whom. As well as inspection by supervisors and managers, many activities and outputs may also be subject to third-party inspection. Creating and monitoring such plans ensures that inspections have been undertaken and completed.

Inspection checklists
Checklists are vital for most inspections, ensuring all necessary items are covered and verified and will need to be specific to the types of work and the project. However, they also need to do more than list what needs to be inspected; they need to guide the inspector on the criteria for acceptability and approval. Again, sharing these in advance with other project participants can be a powerful aid in achieving compliance. Once teams know how their work will be evaluated, they will work towards ensuring their output meets the specified objectives.

Defects resolution process
When inspections highlight deficiencies, a defined process needs to ensure that these are rectified and can then be re-inspected and signed off. Using mobile technologies allows details of defects to be captured photographically with accompanying textual descriptions and the exact location of the fault, along with the date and time of the inspection and the identity of the person reporting the issue. Next, the company responsible for the work is notified, and someone is assigned to fix the fault. A re-inspection is then scheduled for clearance and approval.

Quality reporting
Mobile and cloud-based quality management systems make it easier to manage both the day-to-day inspection processes and summary reporting of the project’s quality performance. For example, checklist and defect reports can be aggregated into dashboard views shared by project participants while allowing authorised users to drill down into the details. Such business intelligence can provide actionable insights—it might identify work teams and suppliers delivering consistently high quality or
indicate areas where additional information or closer supervision might be necessary to avoid future issues, for example.

Continuous quality improvement
A well-structured and accurately managed quality control process can be invaluable to firms such as land Sterling, who regularly undertake similar work as clients, designers, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, or inspectors. Quality plans, inspection plans, checklists, and processes may need to be modified and expanded to include new issues, while corresponding changes may also be required to designs, specifications, and working methods to avoid problems recurring in future projects.

Creating plans, organising inspection schedules, devising checklists, and managing inspection documentation and associated correspondence demands critical business work, but cloud-based QC systems have made the process simpler, more efficient, and more powerful. Giving individuals and project teams access to real-time data on single issues and quality trends across the project highlights how they can contribute to delivering their client’s desired outcomes. The same cloud-based platforms may also be vital in delivering projects on time and on budget. Still, the quality outcome will be the most extended impact for those occupying and using the finished built asset.

Author

Steve Hextall

Head of Project Management & Cost Consultancy

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