A digital construction quality control plan is a powerful process for quality management that can provide numerous benefits, such as helping to improve quality, mitigate risk, and win more business. However, when implementing a digital QA/QC program, it’s important to take it one step at a time. This gives your team an opportunity to adjust and avoid becoming overwhelmed. To help facilitate this, we’ve developed the following five-stage framework for undertaking a digital construction quality control plan.
Stage 1: RE-ACTIVE
In the first stage, defects are electronically documented on-the-fly and tracked through resolution. A great place to start is digitizing all of your reactive quality management defects and non-conformances by implementing a centralized digital issue log. This will help drive ownership, make sure nothing slips through the cracks, and ensure everything is documented, including corrective action and resolution.
The core features of a centralized digital issue log include:
- A single digital repository for stakeholders to access anytime, anywhere
- Real-time access with the ability for multiple stakeholders to collaborate and make updates without overriding one another
- Role-based permission enabling privacy and security while helping to manage workflows
A centralized digital issue log includes a single digital repository for stakeholders
Implementing a centralized digital issue log can be done in a few simple steps. First, define the information to capture, then determine where this information will live such as a cloud-based database to enable real-time access. Then, define permissions levels and access, define the resolution procedure, and train your team. Once it’s up and running, collect feedback and iterate on the system.
Stage 2: ORGANIZED
Next, we want to get even more organized by bolstering our inspection and test plans with checklist inspections. This will cover you by ensuring both conforming and non-conforming observations are documented.
Developing digital checklist templates provide a number of benefits, including:
- Ease in documenting all conforming inspection points, in addition to non-conforming issues, and allowing you to positively confirm conformance
- Serves as a guide to make sure that even the smallest items aren’t missed
- Drives conformance in how you execute your quality program, regardless of who is doing the inspection
- Increases speed for documenting quality observations, allowing you to observe and document a great number of inspection points, resulting in higher quality
- Leveraging a digital program allows you to analyze inspection results to better track quality program performance including inspection coverage and conformance rates
With a cloud-based project management software such as Autodesk BIM 360 teams can checklists to team members to execute from any device in the field. Add notes, attach photos, or create issues during inspection for any nonconforming items, and assign them to the subcontractor to ensure quick resolution.
Improve construction quality control and reduce rework with digital check templates
Stage 3: PRO-ACTIVE
Once you’re comfortable with your checklist inspections, get proactive and start linking them to milestones in your project schedules and discussing their use in your look-ahead planning meetings. This process ensures that your team is preparing for upcoming inspections with specific tasks and work packages, so you don’t get caught off-guard.
Many teams will conduct two-, four- or six-week look-ahead planning meetings where they gather all relevant stakeholders and discuss what work needs to be performed and in what sequence in the coming weeks. During this meeting, you should address which quality measures need to be put in place for specific work. Discuss what, who, and how. What work will be inspected? Who will inspect it? How will they inspect it?
Stage 4: COLLABORATIVE
Once your team is on-board, get collaborative by enabling your trades and subcontractors to participate in the checklist inspection program. In your two-, four-, or six-week look-ahead planning meetings, involve your trades and subcontractors when building out your checklist in order to improve alignment and set expectations. This will reduce the number of non-conformances and resulting re-inspection efforts required.
This may not be necessary for all inspections. You may require this for particularly complex bodies of work or you may require it when you identify that a particular subcontractor is struggling to perform a particular section of work. Depending on your team’s culture, you may take a top-down approach and mandate it by including language describing the expectations of your subcontractor’s involvement in their contracts. However, mandating collaboration will only get you so far. You also need to ensure that your subs are onboard by explaining why this way of working benefits them and the entire project. Then, make the transition for them as easy as possible.
Complex bodies of work may require in-depth collaboration
Stage 5: CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENT
Finally, put in place a continual improvement loop so that the improvement never ends! One way of doing this is by developing a central knowledge repository for sharing information on your project or across all projects in your company. This may include best practices, lessons learned, or even your checklist templates. Implement an easy process where any project team member can initiate improvement to the checklist templates. This is similar to how in the original lean manufacturing process, any assembly line worker could stop the assembly line and offer a process improvement idea to management.
Leverage recognition programs to find subject matter experts and give them a platform to share their knowledge and experience with the rest of the organization. You can implement this in a variety of different forms. You can announce an annual awards program with a referral program that allows you to create awards in excellence for particular project programs like quality, safety, innovation, and collaboration. For something less formal, you can develop a lunch-and-learn program or webinar series where you can spotlight subject matter experts. Give them more visibility in the company while at the same time helping the rest of your company learn from their knowledge or experience.
We hope this five stage process makes it a little easier and less intimidating to implement a quality program. By following this simple formula, you can mitigate risk, improve quality management, win more business, and ensure ongoing operational excellence with a digital construction quality control plan.