4 Ways to Assess a Project Partner’s Commitment to Quality
By Marty Brodnax, President
Quality is foundational to reducing risk on any construction project. But pinning down exactly what quality means is not easy. Unlike with safety, there are no universal industry standards for defining and measuring construction quality. That makes it challenging to assess a potential project partner’s commitment to quality work. Comparing quality programs across different companies is much more subjective than evaluating their TRIRs or track record with on-time completions, for example.
So how can you more objectively evaluate if a project partner is invested in quality work? Here are four questions to help determine if quality is just an item on a checklist — or if it is backed by company culture.
- Who is responsible for quality on the jobsite? Is quality just a function of a quality team? Or are all staff responsible for quality work? An effective quality program requires engagement at all levels of a company. At Baker Gulf Coast Industrial, all our co-workers are accountable for quality work on the jobsite. They are expected to flag quality issues through our Opportunities for Improvement (OFI) program (more on this below). The quality data we collect is available for our staff to review, and we regularly communicate quality updates to our teams. We have found that taking the time to educate our field staff about the value of quality and their role in ensuring it are key to gaining their trust and buy-in.
- What processes are in place to ensure quality standards are being met? A strong quality program has checks in place to ensure quality standards are being met throughout construction. At BGCI, our quality inspectors and foremen are expected to conduct regular pre-emptive quality checks. In addition, all field staff are accountable for ensuring our projects meet our high standards for quality. One way we achieve this is through our Inspection and Test Plans (ITP) process. The process builds stop points into the schedule to verify our quality standards are being met as we go. Every ITP is tailored to the job to ensure it meets the needs of the job.
- How are quality issues captured, evaluated, and tracked? A company cannot continually improve if it is unable to identify items that need improvement. Our OFI program is one of the most important tools we have for building quality into our processes. Whenever co-workers encounter an actual or potential quality issue in the field, they are expected to submit an OFI via an online portal. The Quality team tracks all OFIs to identify trends so new procedures, trainings, and best practices can be developed to prevent the issue from reoccurring.
- What authority does the quality team have for enforcing standards? Any company can say they have a strong quality program. But if they don’t give their quality team the authority to hold crews accountable for their work, the program doesn’t have teeth. At BGCI, our Quality team is given authority to make sure the job is done right — for example, by stopping work until a potential issue is corrected or holding our co-workers accountable when processes and procedures are not followed.
Getting the Job Done Safer, Faster, Smarter, Better
At BGCI, we strive to complete every job safer, faster, better, and smarter. Quality is integral to this. It ensures we hit our targets, and it reduces risk for our clients. We make it a cornerstone of our culture by setting high expectations and holding our people accountable to them. We communicate with our crews frequently and consistently about how and why the work needs to be done so we can get it done right the first time. And we hire and work hard to retain craftworkers and leaders who take pride in quality work.
Contact us to learn how we can bring more value to your project by setting and achieving high standards.