Construction quality management does not have to be overly complex. If you’re looking to make some quick improvements, consider these 5 tips.
- Use Photos to Eliminate Recurring Errors
Mistakes happen. When a mistake becomes a frequent occurrence, it needs to be addressed immediately to avoid becoming a larger issue. Recurring errors frustrate workers, delay construction, and eat-up valuable time and resources. Worse still, all that trouble could’ve been avoided—with your camera.
Take a photo of the error and another photo of the job done correctly. These right and wrong pics are called Hot Spots, and demonstrate exactly that—right and wrong ways of completing the job. It’s a powerful visual tool that crosses language barriers. Hot Spot photos can be added to jobsite checklists and inspections, or sent to the crew leader to review with his team, or even simply printed and posted where the work is being completed on the jobsite.
- Provide Checklists to Reduce Punch Lists
Punch lists are the very definition of 2nd Time Quality, meaning the job wasn’t done right the first time. They waste time and money, and consume valuable resources better spent on making process improvements. And, there’s really no excuse to have them if you are using checklists.
A checklist is a reminder to double check that no items are left incomplete, unfinished or incorrect. Checklists can accommodate every phase of construction, and can reference delivery, installation and work completion. With mobile technology, they are accessible on a Smart Phone or tablet. No paper required. Plus, mobile checklists can be easily updated and distributed to create a living, comprehensive jobsite tool. It can’t be said too many times: follow checklists and eliminate punch lists.
- Give Clear Directions to Minimize Delays
Poor communication is often the root cause of many delays. Whether it’s an issue on the jobsite or confusion about a callback, this uncertainty creates questions, and questions wait for answers. You can probably already hear your phone ringing. While a certain amount of waiting will always be inherent within the construction process, a large part of this time waster is ultimately due to vague direction and unclear expectations from the builder. Checklists and Hot Spot photos set expectations and reduce waiting waste. There are other Quality Management tools that can strengthen the lines of communication as well.
Mobile QM systems allow Inspectors and Superintendents to share and mark-up photos, as well as exchange comments with Trade Partners. Communication can be as instant as an email, and as direct as a drawn arrow pointing to the issue. This added detail takes communication to a whole new level and eliminates “vague” and “unclear” from the message.
- Enforce Job Readiness to Reduce Scheduling Delays
Unfortunately, every trade is familiar with the term “dry run.” Scheduling inaccuracies produce a whole mess of headache inducing time wasters for them. But there’s more to it than just a schedule. Job Readiness includes a complex, interconnected relay. The electrician affects the drywall installer. The drywall installer affects the painter. And just about every trade is affected by the framer. When one job isn’t 100% complete and accurate, it causes additional work for the following trade. That can include cleaning-up a mess to making a repair before they can begin their work. Work inspections can reduce this waste of time.
Include Job-ready scores or checkpoints to set your expectation that the current job is 100% clean and complete before the next job begins. It’s spending a few minutes now to double check that the work is correct, rather than spending hours, if not days, later to fix it.
- Make Jobsite Cleanliness a Priority to Increase Safety
The sight of a cluttered, unorganized jobsite is so common that it often goes unnoticed by the builder. But within that area of discarded wrappers, water bottles and material parts hides a mesh of malicious time wasters and potential safety hazards. It takes longer to maneuver around a littered jobsite. It’s easier to misplace tools and extension cords. Mistakes increase. Quality and Safety suffer. Punch lists grow.
The QM system can actually improve jobsite appearance and hold each subcontractor accountable for leaving the jobsite as clean as when they arrived. Obviously checklists and inspections can include checkpoints for jobsite cleanliness. However, the best inspector is the trade arriving on the jobsite. When they grade jobsite cleanliness and organization before they begin, they’re holding the previous trade accountable. In return, the current crew is more likely to leave the jobsite in good shape when the following trade may call them out for leaving it in disarray.
Any one of these actions can make a significant improvement, but together they create a prevailing Quality Management System that reduces time waste and improves efficiency.