For construction projects, quality management is the process for ensuring that the outputs, benefits and methods of delivery meet project and stakeholder expectations. This involves meeting the requirements of the functional brief, technical specifications and any detailed design documentation.
Quality management is important for ensuring that project outputs are fit for purpose and meet the expectations of the users and operator. Throughout the project lifecycle, it is important to consider operational outcomes and whole-of-life maintenance expectations to ensure that intended project benefits are realised after the handover of project outputs to the operator.
Quality ensures that project outputs are fit for purpose and conform to the approved requirements. It relates specifically to the following project components:
- inputs (the materials for the project)
- outputs (what the project produces)
- outcomes (the results of the project), and
- processes (the means used to achieve outputs).
Quality applies at a product and project level.
At a product level, you can define quality criteria relating to:
- design drawings
- requirements documentation, and
- product descriptions.
In the context of the project, quality is achieved when it addresses the problem or needs originally stated as part of the project definition, funding and approvals. This relates specifically to the requirements set out in:
- the project brief
- functional requirements
- technical specifications, and
- other project documentation, including acceptance criteria.
Quality management is a term used to describe the processes for ensuring that the outputs, benefits, and methods of delivery meet the expectations of the projects and stakeholders.
Quality management includes activities such as quality planning, quality assurance and quality control. This extends to more specific activities such as:
- risk management
- issue management
- change control, and
- document control.
A quality management plan is an output of quality planning. It is a formal document that articulates the approach to establishing and managing project quality. The quality management plan should be included as part of the suite of project management plans prepared at the start of the project.
The purpose of a quality management plan is to:
- document key quality management activities and metrics for the project
- communicate the quality management process to the project’s team members, and
- describe how the team will manage quality during the life of the project.
The quality management plan should also:
- define the acceptable level of quality for project outputs
- describe how the project will ensure the specified level of quality in its outputs (such as buildings or equipment) and work processes (such as installation methodologies)
- include a systematic approach to appropriate tracking, managing, and reporting against quality, and
- state the level of quality reviews and project reporting requirements within the project’s governance structure.
The objective is to have a process in place that will allow for timely and accurate visibility of current project quality. This process provides an ‘early warning system’ to detect potential problems and allow for corrective action, without adversely impacting the program and budget.
For larger and more complex projects there may be several quality management plans, including:
- an organisational plan which sets out the overall project quality
- a plan from each designer or designer team, and
- a plan from the contractor, which sets out how they will manage quality within their scope of works and how they will be held accountable, under the contract, with regards to quality issues.
For business-as-usual and low complexity projects, you may choose to have a standalone quality management plan or incorporate quality management processes into other project management plans.
Project quality links directly with the project cost, program and scope. For example, reducing costs may negatively impact quality, while lengthening the program may positively impact the quality of the project.
Examples of quality for a project may include:
- realising the benefit of increased teaching spaces
- achieving a design that is accessible and welcoming
- realising the benefit of accessibility for people with disabilities
- use of colour, texture, light and architectural features to improve an environment, and
- sustainability of materials.
Quality control activities monitor and verify that project outputs meet defined quality standards, while quality assurance activities monitor and verify that the processes used to manage and create the outputs are followed and are effective. Quality control is focused on detection while quality assurance is focused on prevention.
You should consider quality throughout the project lifecycle, not just during delivery. Quality control may include:
- reviews during the design development
- quality audits
- ensuring quality accreditation of key design stakeholders (ISO 9001 Quality Management System Certification)
- technical specifications requiring the contractor to undertake a strict testing regime for all equipment, and
- project team and stakeholder questionnaires and surveys.
Quality assurance may include:
- technical specifications requiring inspections and test plans to be developed by the contractor and signed off during the delivery phase
- regular inspections during the delivery phase
- the TAFE or design team reviewing technical submissions during project documentation
- provision and approval of samples of fittings, fixtures and equipment (for example) before installation, and
- an assurance audit being undertaken.
The ISO 9000 standards are related to quality management systems designed to help organisations ensure they meet the needs of stakeholders and statutory and regulatory requirements related to the product or service.
ISO 9000 deals with the fundamentals of quality management systems, including the eight management principles on which the family of standards is based. ISO 9001 deals with the requirements that organisations must fulfil to meet standards.
Although a TAFE does not need to be ISO9000 accredited, you may consider reviewing the accreditations of the design team and other specialised consultants.
The National Building Specification (NATSPEC) specifications are provided as part of a subscription. Since these specifications are subject to frequent change, it is important to ensure that the design team is using the latest version of the specifications for the project.
The Department of Education has developed the NATSPEC Victorian education reference specifications to assist TAFEs meet mandatory requirements for Victorian education projects.