November 7, 2016

What’s the Difference Between Quality Assurance and Quality Control?


Q.  What’s the difference between Quality Assurance and Quality Control?

A.  Preventing mistakes and poor workmanship is more time and cost effective than correcting them. With that in mind, Quality Assurance identifies weaknesses and threats, and mitigates issues before they arise. Quality Assurance is setting standards, programs and processes.

Consolidated has developed two comprehensive Quality Assurance programs: Safety, Quality, Production (SQP) and Warranty. With SQP, metrics have been identified, and all trade foremen on our project sites hold daily morning goal setting meetings per these metrics. Hazards are identified and the stage is set for a synchronized team to perform at its highest level. Additionally, Consolidated’s full service Warranty Program provides objective guidance and constant feedback on areas of improvement. Where other warranty programs are an afterthought of the project, Consolidated’s program turns the tables on warranty, making it proactive. Through internal warranty bulletins and presentations, the warranty manager highlights real-world experience and challenges with new products and methods. Pre-installation meetings with subcontractors allow him to “begin with the end in mind” by setting quality expectations and discussing areas of concern.

On the other hand, but equally important, Quality Control is the activity which monitors and verifies adherence to pre-defined standards and corrects defects. Quality Control is the inspection, the report, and the corrective action. In construction, continuous Quality Control measures are critical in identifying a sub-standard final product. The interconnectedness of the structure, mechanical systems and finishes means that poor quality in one area can affect the quality and outcome of all subsequent trades.

Consolidated’s project superintendents are expected to check all subcontractors’ work early, while corrections in quality are easy to fix. Then, quality checks continue daily throughout the life of the project. Our superintendents also complete phased punch lists in addition to a final project punch list. Phased punch lists ensure quality checks immediately after each subcontractor’s portion of the work is complete – before they leave the site, when corrections are simpler. To an even higher degree of critical review, our Safety and Construction Operations leaders personally visit project sites, unannounced, to audit site operations and inspect quality.

Quality Control is only as good as the Quality Assurance program that defines it. A commitment to quality at the organizational level, project design and estimate level, and work site level must all be in place, with expectations set and resources available to implement the program. Builders committed to proactive quality and cost effectiveness will illustrate their Quality Control measures and their Quality Assurance program.