What Is Construction Quality Management?

Last Updated: February 16th, 2023
Researched and Written by: Katherine Boehm

Construction quality management combines quality assurance and quality control for job sites. It ensures that crews perform tasks on time, to specifications and budget, and up to quality and safety standards. Effective quality management protects both user safety and the reputation of the construction firm.

Construction quality management is integral to overall construction management, including scheduling, planning, time tracking, resource allocation, and document sharing.

Quality management in construction differs slightly from quality management in other industries like manufacturing, where quality management processes involve reviewing individual products instead of entire construction jobs.

This guide will explore creating a quality management process, the challenges construction managers face when maintaining these processes, and the keys to successful quality management.

Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control in Construction

Quality assurance and quality control are similar processes. They both involve audits of the construction process but have distinct differences, primarily in the timing of the audits.

Quality assurance ensures the project meets safety and quality standards, mainly through process audits. Quality assurance is conducted before, during, and after construction and aims to prevent mistakes before they happen.

Quality control, on the other hand, involves auditing finished construction projects. Quality control compares a finished project’s results to compliance with quality and safety standards.

This process also involves both internal and external inspectors who will test numerous aspects of a construction project for code compliance. The results of these inspections will help determine if project managers need to make improvements before concluding a project.

Read Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control: The Key Differences for a more in-depth look at the differences between the two processes.

Developing a detailed quality management plan benefits your client, team, and stakeholders.

Barriers to Quality Management in Construction

There are challenges to implementing effective quality management in the construction industry. Some of these difficulties include the following:

  1. Low-quality and defective materials

  2. Supplier issues

  3. Subcontractor management issues

  4. Insufficient documentation of practices and changes

  5. Poor management of unexpected changes

  6. Scope creep

  7. Poor communication

  8. Challenging designs

  9. Insufficient project management

  10. Insufficient audits

  11. Failure to set company-wide quality standards

Construction jobs face these challenges through every project stage. However, these obstacles are often avoidable by establishing well-defined processes and standards.

A capable contractor management system is software that can help you handle the quality management process.

The Quality Management Process

Creating a detailed quality management plan is essential for the successful completion of every construction project. This process starts with establishing quality standards, and then creating a quality management program with both quality assurance and quality control processes. The last step is to make a plan for conducting testing and inspections.

Establish Quality Standards

Considerations for setting quality standard specifications include health, safety, reliability, environmental regulations, and customer satisfaction. Various ISO standards determine many project standards, which help construction companies prevent job site injuries, ensure regulatory compliance, and remain cost-effective.

Some examples of ISO quality standards for construction businesses include:

  • ISO 14000 Environmental Management System Standards
    EMS standards help organizations comply with regulations, laws, and other environmental requirements.

  • ISO 9000 Quality Management System Standards
    This certification gives credit to companies implementing effective quality management procedures that meet customer and stakeholder satisfaction.

  • ISO 50001 Energy Management System Standards
    Construction companies with this certification maintain an energy management system (EnMS), commit to reducing energy consumption and costs, have lower greenhouse gas emissions, and aim for good corporate citizenship.

Create a schedule for conducting quality and safety inspections throughout the construction process.

Create a Quality Management Program

All construction projects should create a quality management program that documents every step their team will take to maintain quality assurance and quality control. This plan should also include measures to communicate with subcontractors, suppliers, and, most notably, the client.

A detailed quality requirement plan can instill confidence in your team and clients, which can lead to improved productivity and performance

Quality control plans

Here’s a list of the significant components of a quality control plan:

  • Designate a quality manager
  • Create a quality communications plan and schedule
  • Create a quality assurance monitoring plan and schedule
  • Select suppliers and subcontractors
  • Define quality specifications
  • Define inspection and testing procedures
  • Define nonconformance procedures
  • Create a final inspection plan

Quality assurance process

It’s important to not just establish quality assurance procedures, but also the dedicated personnel that will carry them out. Sometimes the project manager designates an internal employee to carry out quality assurance procedures, but a specialized quality assurance organization could also be hired to perform these duties.

Quality assurance also includes training employees to ensure they conduct their work correctly and safely.

Testing and Inspection Procedure Example

Construction quality management benefits from a well-defined procedure for conducting quality testing and inspections. Here is one example of a typical quality audit:

  1. Speak to clients
    Speaking to clients helps you understand if they are conducting their own inspections, if expectations are being met, or if the quality is subpar. Have the client walk the job site with you to conduct inspections whenever possible.

  2. Conduct field review
    Walk the job site to inspect work quality, adherence to procedures, and workers’ skill levels.

  3. Inspect quality reports and records
    Make sure reports and records are not only filled out, but filled out thoroughly and correctly.

  4. Inspect quality again and compare to reports
    Reinspect the construction quality and compare it to inspection and nonconformance reports to ensure that everything is documented correctly.

  5. Interview workers
    Speak to the construction workers to understand their qualifications, training, and certifications. These interviews are essential to learn two things: if workers have access to the materials they need to complete their jobs thoroughly, and what could be getting in the way of this access.

  6. Review past action plan
    Review plans to improve quality deficiencies, and discover if there were significant improvements or not.

  7. Create audit report
    Compile findings into a single report. Keeping detailed records from interviews, tests, and inspections helps to maintain the integrity of the quality process and protects your business.

  8. Create a plan based on audit findings
    Create a new action plan to address any quality issues. If your current action plan isn’t being followed, first determine if your workers are facing any roadblocks like complicated plans or a lack of resources.

Looking for software to help you organize and automate these essential processes? Check out our list of the best construction management software.

Keys to Quality in Construction

Effective quality management is an important yet challenging aspect of successfully managing construction projects. There are several keys to ensuring that your quality plans work.

First, define what exactly “done” means. Sharing these acceptance criteria with workers, subcontractors, and managers helps everyone understand what is expected as “acceptable” in terms of work quality.

Second, create a plan (like the one above) to undertake your inspection process. Third, use checklists to help you effectively and thoroughly manage inspections. There could be hundreds of inspections, and these checklists will ensure that nothing gets missed.

Fourth, fix any quality issues and make sure the corrections meet the acceptance criteria.

Finally, it is important to learn why mistakes happen so you can prevent them in the future.

All these keys require extensive communication, collaboration, and documentation to ensure quality and satisfy the needs of all stakeholders.

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