Should we implement Quality Management System in the Construction Industry?
The above stated interrogation is quite common among professionals of the construction industry contrary to the perception of other professionals in other service industries. Industrial engineers that are engaged in maximizing product efficiency in factories and other service rendering professionals in custom clearing and the like, engaged in focusing on customer satisfaction are very certain over the importance of the quality management system service. Then why is the bias in the construction industry?
The bias must be from the misunderstanding of the importance of the system or the unavailability of the awareness of the importance of the quality management system in the construction industry. The writer of this piece of article clearly understands the importance of an exhaustive research to reach to the above premises and it should be understood that the premises is driven from the writer’s own experience for the last 25 years in the sector.
This piece of article focuses on the importance of the implementation of the quality management system in the construction industry: on Architectural & Engineering Design services and in the administration of construction contracts.
Quality management system can only be rated against a certain standard. A certain set of criteria that qualifies the system-the set of requirements. That is why the introduction of international/National/local standards come into view. For the sake of the discussion, the writer chooses to limit himself to the ISO 9001:2015 on which he has a reasonable understanding and experience.
The International Standard, Quality management System requirements (ISO9001:2015) employs the process approach, which incorporates the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle and risk based thinking. The process approach involves the systematic definition and management of processes, and their interactions, so as to achieve the intended results in accordance with the quality policy and strategic direction of the organization.
Management of the processes and the system as a whole can be achieved by using the PDCA cycle with an overall focus on risk based thinking aimed at taking advantage of opportunities and preventing undesirable results. To conform to the requirements of this international standard, an organization needs to plan and implant actions to address risks and opportunities.
Addressing both risks and opportunities establishes a basis for increasing the effectiveness of the quality management system, achieving improved results and preventing negative effects. Actions to address opportunities can also include consideration of associated risks. Please note that Risk is the effect of uncertainty and any such uncertainty can have positive or negative effects.
Application of the quality management system in engineering services (design, supervision and contract administration services) and construction works can be demonstrated by checking whether the company has exercised and implemented from Clause 4 to Clause 10 of the quality management system requirements. These can be listed as follows.
Clause 4:- Context of the Organization
Clause 5:- Policy
Clause 6:- Planning
Clause 7:- Support
Clause 8:- Operation
Clause 9:- Performance evaluation
Clause 10:- Improvement.
How can a company engaged in the construction industry could implement quality management system requirements so as to enhance quality services and Products? This can be narrated in the following sections of this article by elaborating each and every clause listed above and the relevance to the construction industry.
Clause 4:- Context of the Organization
“Context of the organization” encompasses understanding the organization and its context, understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties, determining the scope of the quality management system and establishing quality management system and its processes,
Understanding the organization and its context can be demonstrated by checking whether the organization has determined external and internal issues that are relevant to its purpose and its strategic direction and that affect its ability to achieve its intended results of its quality management system. The organization shall monitor and review information about these external and internal issues. The issues can include positive and negative factors or conditions for consideration; understanding the external context can be facilitated by considering issues arising from legal, technological, competitive market,cultural,social and economic environments, whether international, national,regional or local; understanding the internal context can be facilitated by considering issues related to values,culture, knowledge and performance of the organization.
What do we mean by understanding one’s organization and its context and how is that qualified in the quality management system of a given organization in the construction industry? How does an organization determine external and internal issues that are relevant to its strategic direction? How is all these issues are addressed in the prevailing construction industry of Ethiopia? That remains to be discussed in the proceeding sections of the discussion.
The writer would like to invite the reader to meticulously try to understand the above stated list of pack of concepts before proceeding further. The discussion on the clauses, the inherent benefits to the management system, the importance of the application of the requirements in a given management system and the relevance to the construction industry shall be discussed in the proceeding discussions.
your comments & engagements are most welcome and highly appreciated.
We have a strong belief that together, we can bring about constructive changes in the construction industry.
General Manager, TAHB Engineering & Consultants PLC
Practicing Professional structural engineer
practicing Professional Sanitary Engineer