Construction Quality Control Plans range in size from under 30 pages to over 200 pages, from simple to comprehensive. So, how do you know what's the right quality control plan for your contract and company needs?
To find out what my clients need, I ask them a series of questions and review their contract specifications (if they have them).
5 Typical questions to help you decide
Ask yourself these 5 questions and use the examples below to guide your quality plan development.
- What type of clients do you have?
- In what industry do you work?
- What are the goals for your plan?
- What does your contract suggest?
- How big is your company?
What type of clients do you have?
If you’ve been reading my blog or browsing around my website, you know that one of my specialties is government quality control plans. So, if you do work with any government agencies, I know you don't have much flexibility with your quality plan.
Working on military (Army, Navy, or Corps of Engineers) and non-military government (FTA, DOT, FHWA, DOE, FAA) projects means you'll have a contracting officer WITH A CHECKLIST.
Therefore, your plan should include all the elements on your contracting officer's checklist, and ideally, follow the same order.
To complicate matters, while all the government agencies have similar required elements, each has a different way they want your plan organized. You can download examples of different government agency Quality Plans and an FTA QA/QC Plan Audit Checklist from my website.
If you work in the private sector, then, you’ll have more flexibility with your construction quality control plan. So, read on to learn more.
In what industry do you work?
Some industries require more rigorous quality plans than others. If you work in the Petrochemical or other energy industry, your clients typically demand some of the most rigorous plans and often use the term construction quality management plan instead of quality control plan.
Most of my clients that do business in the Petrochemical industry need an ISO 9001 compliant quality management system plan.
However, if you’re not planning on becoming ISO 9000 registered, you do have some flexibility with this type of plan, but, for the most part, you’ll want a very comprehensive plan that includes all the elements specified in ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 10005 quality plan requirements. The same is true if you are seeking ISNET certification.
General construction (residential or commercial) offers the most flexibility. So, read on to learn more.
What do your contract specifications suggest?
Contract quality specifications run the full gamut from very vague to highly prescriptive. While, on the surface, you'd think that the highly prescriptive construction quality control plan specifications would suggest a comprehensive plan and those with few requirements would suggest a simple quality control plan, but, that’s not always the case.
For example, some clients will deliberately leave their construction quality requirements vague. The reason is that they want to see your capabilities and qualifications without telling you what they want.
Phrases like “how do you control nonconformances” or “describe your quality system” are sure give aways that a simple quality plan will not do the job.
That being said, when you know that your client doesn't really want to see a lot of information and/or there are only a few (yet specific) quality requirements, then you can use a quality control plan that doesn't go into a lot of details. Just make sure that you use a simple quality control plan that covers all the elements of a well-formed quality management system, and you'll have your bases covered.
What is the goal for your plan?
What do you want your construction quality control plan to do for you?
For instance, you’ll obviously want to choose a more comprehensive quality plan when you want any of the following:
- Impress your clients
- Get certified by an organization such as the American Welding Society or ISNetworld
- Win larger contracts
- Use on multiple contracts
Your company size and contract award
Finally, it's important to consider your company and/or contract size. If your company contract(s) are typically under $500,000. AND, you don't see yourself growing or going after larger contracts, then a simple plan is all you need.
Larger companies and contracts, regardless of what's indicated by any one particular contract, should have a reasonably comprehensive construction quality control plan.
One plan for all situations
The best type of plan would be one that you can tailor depending on your project. You won't want two or three different plans, though, so look for a comprehensive plan that can be scaled up or down.
About the Author - Ed Caldeira is founder of First Time Quality, LLC. Ed works with companies of all sizes and offers quality plan templates and custom quality plans as well as quality control software.