Quality Management- How QA and QC Work in Construction Projects
Posted: Oct 25, 2020
Quality management is integral to construction projects as it ensures that buildings are constructed to code and would be safe for the residents. Essentially, these systems comprise two elements, namely quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC). Both work in tandem, and no quality system would be effective without one or the other. While these terms are used interchangeably, each has distinct meaning and coverage in construction. They have diverse roles to play, while their objective is the same- to assure the highest quality in delivery.
QA & QC- Understanding their roles in the construction industry
QA is a set of systemic activities that are implemented in a quality system for fulfilling the quality requirements. Conversely, QC is a part of QA and includes the observation of techniques used to fulfil the requirements set forth by QA. Let us explain them in detail and elucidate how each works process-wise.
At the pre-design stage, QA plays a key role. The QA manager considers the project scope and also researches the requirements for the building. Further, they determine what each team will require to complete and the requirements for supplies necessary to pass inspection. They will then prepare all documentation and explain the confusing standards if any. With these inputs, the teams and QC officers know exactly what to look for and how to match standards.
QC takes over in the pre-construction design and planning phase. QC managers step in to inspect and test whether the project matches the standards set by the QA manager. They will also provide the design standards for architects, engineers, building codes and such. The QC managers also bear the responsibility for signing off on all designs, materials and revisions. Signing off on parts that fail to meet the necessary standards rather makes the QA manager accountable.
Construction during the build
In the construction build phase, the responsibility for assuring that the work matches the standards passes over to the superintendent. The QA manager provides the superintendent with the requisite documentation and knowledge. The QC officers pitch in to visit and test on set schedules, so the superintendent has to ensure adherence to the quality protocols at all times. If they notice a problem, they have to take the requisite steps to correct it. This approach cuts down the possibility of wastage and rework and keeps the project on budget and time.
The role of quality management does not end with the completion of the build phase; it extends to post-construction as well. When construction wraps up, the QC officer performs an inspection. It lists the parts that are up to code and the ones that aren’t. The QA manager comes up with procedures for the parts of the project and building that fail to pass the checks. If the building passes them, the QA and QC officers are done with the project and can move on to the next one.
Even while QA and QC are different, both are parts of the same ecosystem. Unless both co-exist, building quality will suffer. No matter how big or small a project is, one cannot imagine completing it successfully without a holistic quality management system.
The author is a construction project manager with Zepth and has a flair for writing as well. Since She has a rich experience in working on construction projects of diverse sizes and scales, she likes sharing them as articles on leading blogs.