How can I implement an effective quality management systems (QMS) for my Construction Project?

Dnyan Deshmukh

Staff member
Implementation of QMS is a big task for any construction project and its effectiveness is completely dependent on how top management is serious about it and how the data is provided for analysis of effectiveness and loop holes in system.

QMS mostly fail to get implemented in construction projects due to the most works is driven by human where chances of error are more due to improper supervision, knowledge and readiness of peoples to do things correctly in first shot.

The failure in QMS occurs due to no cost association for defects and responsibility which is not taken by anyone.

When the QMS implementation starts, it comes to freezing the specification along with tolerance level for each at first go.

You made a plan and started to implement it through training, mockups and handing over of procedure checklist etc to a concern responsible persons.

As the work is carried out by mostly a workmens, there are chances that, system may not get implemented correctly because peoples working at any construction project do have their experiences in previous works and comes to new project with their back log which creates a resistance to do things in a way we want to get executed.

As there is no cost associated with the non conformance which are raised in QMS system and due to mentality of the peoples, the importance is not given to those non conformance's because, peoples do think, it gonna happen in some areas due to labours.

When those things starts getting accepted, QMS system starts to fail as the acceptance of things goes on increasing and blaming others.

The engineers who works at site may not think in the same way as QMS implementer thinks, because they had other agendas and eager to complete that by any means and not concern about its outcomes in future.

The behavior of engineers working at site may be due to human nature to complete task but when things are getting accepted, peoples make it to get more worst and beg to get accepted with many reasons.

This is the end of QMS system, it will be full of repeated mistakes which are recorded over time on every work done and there is hardly any progress on improving it.

When repeated NC's are recorded, if you look at the root causes and corrective actions taken by engineers working at site, you will come to know that, for more than 95% of the defect / non conformities, the root cause is improper supervision of activities which are progressing at construction project.

Corrective actions for those are not taken because, many thinks that, the thing is happen due to contractor, contractors workmen or due to somebody else who did not given decision at right time or due to unavailability of the details. there are hardly few, who looks at it by giving it high importance and make the positive changes in self to ensure no repetition of the mistakes / non conformity again.

To make QMS and effective management system, the first thing should be done at the start of making QMS is to add the cost implication in it for poor quality of works.

When you start recording the cost which can go for remedies, the effectiveness will start to grow in it.

Here comes the real problem, the cost is never get reflected due to;
As its a mistake by contractor, contractor is ready for its rectification, this again makes a mindset of do mistake and rectify the same in stipulated time.
The contractor bare the cost of labour and material, when the cost is not recoverable (not going to get paid for it), they will try to recover the same by doing some saving in cost at other works - this makes cycle of making defects and rectifying it.
When contractor is ready and engineer do have confidence in contractor, many non conforming works are neglected and treated as will be rectified in next process as the engineers do have the target and delaying the target for doing rectifications will lead to management to understand, engineer is not supervising work correctly at right time.
So the situation becomes like a trap from which engineer or contractor cant escape out due to targets they do have and the tendency of workmens take it to further worst scenarios.

If it comes to final judgement, on what you are trying to achieve by doing all this, you need to face to an answer like, the defective work levels if you look, is less than 5% or so.

Now QMS implementer might go into that trap and start thinking about what is the use of QMS system.

QMS is the best tool for making standardization when it comes with tracking of cost, unless the cost of poor workmanship is tracked, there is almost no effectiveness of QMS system.

How to record the cost of poor workmanship / poor quality for making effective QMS system.

When a non conformity in any activity / process is observed, at the time of closing of it along with review of root causes and corrective actions submitted by Engineers who did that work, we should also ask for the cost of poor quality which is associated with it.

What cost can be associated with it;
1. If it requires redoing, it will involve following cost;
Demolition cost
Cost of labour required for reconstruction
Cost of material Required for reconstruction
Total Cost of poor quality

2. If it requires reworks in it
Cost of labour required for doing reworks
Cost of material required for doing reworks.

When the non conformity levels are very small, the cost of the poor quality may look very small and does not have any impact. it is not necessary to debit the cost incurred to a client. Recording of the cost should be done irrespective of who bares it, the cost of poor quality should be recorded to total cost required including bare by contractor and client.

The cost should also include the supervision charges by client into it.

When those records are formed, with each repetition of non conformity will add cost to poor quality and same will be reflected in the QMS reports.

When such things are recorded irrespective of bearer, it starts to make impact on process and increase the awareness among all on whats going on, which will result into better quality works with no reworks.

Example of Non conformity

Honeycombing observed in concrete.

Root Cause
Improper supervision, improper compaction, slurry loss through joints of shutter and there can be many root causes depending on the situation and how honeycombing was occurred in concrete.

Corrective action
Improving Supervision, ensuring proper compaction is done during concreting, ensuring all forms joints are sealed before concreting and many corrective actions as per the root causes of the defect.

After taking corrective actions, the defective work is reworked to make it conforming, to do rework the cost is involved, so it should be recorded as below;

1. Supervision charges for doing rework (cost of the engineer for the time which was spent for doing that rectification).
2. If its a major defect - cost of demolition, cost of writing SOP for doing rectification, cost of consultant involve in that activity (cost should be calculated to approximate time spent on it and associating it with what charges they took for each visit, monthly and doing calculation of cost for it)
3. Labour cost for doing work (how many labours as per their category and how much time spent on that - approximate cost of it)
4. If there is any material used for rectification, cost of that material, say 1 kg of cement and 3 kg of sand is used on rectification, then do sum up that cost as per their current market price.
5. Cost of curing required for it which has water, electricity labour etc (do approximate calculations)

When you add all those cost, it will be cost of poor quality for that defect.

Likewise, all cost of poor quality should be recorded for each non conforming activity.

When the cost of poor quality is getting recorded along with the details and it is reflected in QMS reports, everyone will try to bring down that cost in their work areas and will concentrate on to ensure defect free works.

This can make effective implementation of QMS at construction project.

This is why six sigma is successful in mechanical industry, because it's associating cost of rework which helps in reducing defect level.


How to analyze checklist data collected for a period to identify deficiency , areas for improvement etc,
example i have date of 40 km where i performed checks at various points w.r.t construction of WMM layer in a highway project , where the contractor has been doing continuous mistakes or not improving proccedure.

Dnyan Deshmukh

Staff member
You can analyze each point of checklist and score it on individual scale. example point 1 - out of 100 check only 2 times it pass the requirement in first check. score will be 2%
If you have multiple record of same, you can also make score for 2nd check or 3rd check when it was rejected by you in previous checks.

This way you can have individual as well as whole checklist points score to conclude something.

If you are passing the work in 1st inspection only and there are no further reinspection (after rejecting work in previous inspection) for corrections done by contractor - you have accepted those points by considering as minor and allowed the contractor to proceed with work by doing minor adjustment / reworks specified by you - in such cases doing any analysis will not help you to solve the problem because most or all problems are known to you and assumed by you to be compliable even post your inspection and allowing further process by signing checklist and writing points on it.

If you do not understand what i have written or need further guidance, you can post further more details so that i can suggest you a model framework for the same.