Quality paperwork is regarded as a chore or waste of time by some contractors. Yet, quality paperwork is an essential component to managing quality on construction projects and ensuring there is an auditable trail. Losing a checklist can be expensive and cost time if the work has to be rechecked. Any way we can simplify our quality checking process should be welcomed.
In the past
Working on construction projects in the past we always did our quality checklists on a piece of paper. At the start of the project we prepared various checklists in accordance with our quality plan and document. Whenever we were required to carry out a quality check, whether it was a pre-concrete inspection, post-concrete inspection, pre-render or plastering inspection, we got a blank copy of the checklist from the office, stuck it onto a clipboard and went to work on site ticking off the relevant items. Usually, once we were satisfied the section conformed we signed the checklist and then had to search for the client’s engineer or QA inspector to authorise the completed checklist. Only then could we proceed with the work in hand, whether it was pouring concrete or placing the next layer of dirt.
Being distracted we usually forgot the checklist on the clipboard adding another checklist to the board when we did our next inspection. So it went on until the clipboard couldn’t hold any more completed checklists. Invariably by this time the 1st checklists were stained from sweat, dust, oil, coffee and rain and dog-eared.
When we got time we filed the checklists into the QA file. But of course there were some engineers who just dumped the completed checklists in a desk drawer where they lay until the project’s end. The end of the project arrived and the work was handed over, but final handover was delayed because the QA data pack or file wasn’t ready. Engineers worked long hours sorting out the checklists and filing them in the correct sections. Often there were missing checklists and some engineers even falsified checklists to fill in for the missing ones. Finally the data pack was complete and then it was copied so that the client could have their required pack (sometimes they even wanted a 2nd copy).
Well time has moved on since those days, yet many contractors still use the paper system which astounds me. Not only is this slow and cumbersome but the contractor is exposed to risk should an inspection sheet be lost and the client insist the work is uncovered and inspected or redone.
Our new generation of engineers have been brought up using smart phones and its second nature to reach for their phone.
I was therefore surprised when I was approached by a company who have developed an app for Android and iOS to do quality inspections on a smart phone. It just seemed so obvious! Why weren’t construction companies using the system already? You download the app onto your phone. It comes with a complete suite of checklists (over 150). You can add your own checklists or modify those already supplied. Once downloaded, you can retrieve the required checklist anywhere on the project on your smart phone and don’t require connectivity. No running back to the office to find a blank checklist. No walking around the project with paper copies. Simply run through your checklist as you would normally do, ticking off the items that conformed, indicating items not applicable if they aren’t needed and marking items which don’t conform and adding comments – all on your phone or tablet. Furthermore, you can add photographs to the checklist to show the non-conformances or to prove that the check was in fact carried out. It’s that simple.
If you need another party to authorise the checklist the app has a function to send them an email when you have connectivity. They can remotely authorise the checklist or carry out their own inspection, notifying you by email when the checklist is authorised. The completed checklist in pdf format is then filed in the correct folder. No more lost checklists!
At the end of the project the checklists are easily retrievable and can be copied electronically or printed.
But there is more. Each checklist is allocated its own unique number. At the touch of a button you can see how many checklists have been completed, how many haven’t been authorised, and you can track the common items which resulted in checklists not being passed.
So ditch the paper, move onto paperless checklists that will save you time and money, making your quality processes simpler and faster.
However, there is more to this app. It can also be used for conducting your safety inspections. So whether it’s doing scaffold, equipment or excavation inspections, get out your smart phone, pull up the required check list and start checking. It’s all there in your pocket at the touch of a few buttons.
Hey if someone as old as me (yes born BC - before computers) can be excited by an app then you have to know it’s a really simple system. Why didn’t I think of it!
To clarify, I don't work for these guys and haven't been paid to write this blog, but I thought I would pass on information which might be useful.
To read more visit http://www.asansystems.com
Have you used a similar system?
How does your company do their checklists?
To read more about the author visit Paul Netscher on this website.
To learn more about the author's books visit 'Successful Construction Project Management: The Practical Guide' and 'Building a Successful Construction Company: The Practical Guide' on this website.
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Copyright 2016 - The attached articles cannot be reproduced for commercial purposes without the consent of the author.
The opinions expressed in the attached articles are those of the writer. It should be noted that projects are varied and different laws and restrictions apply which depend on the location of the contractor and the project. It's important that the reader uses the supplied information taking cognisance of their particular circumstances. The writer assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss of any kind arising from the reader using the information or advice contained herein.
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