Successful outcomes in construction do, of course, come from a variety of factors. Team experience, skill, talent, passion, perception, and so on… they all play a role in the end result. However, one of the primary factors distinguishing a quality building and a poor structure is process. And the driving forces behind the development of strong, robust, and repeatable processes are quality control and quality assurance.
What is ‘Quality Control’ & ‘Quality Assurance’?
The two terms are often used interchangeably, but the truth is that they’re very different. Ultimately, both help to ensure that a finished building meets – and often exceeds – the client’s needs and expectations. However, they achieve this goal in two different ways. Here’s a quick overview of quality control and quality assurance:
Quality control, or QA, is a proactive management tool. It refers to the development and implementation of a set of standardised processes that reduce risk across the lifetime of a project. The idea is that, if QA processes are closely followed across every stage of construction, there should be few issues with the finished structure.
Quality assurance, or QC, is a reactive corrective tool. It refers to the act of resolving quality-related issues or problems with a building prior to project completion and customer handoff. It generally involves an inspection by project engineers who identify any flaws in the work and arrange for these issues to be corrected.
Why Are Both QA And QC Important?
It’s easy to see the importance of QA, isn’t it? Standardising processes is a highly effective and efficient way to reduce risk. But a question that many clients ask is why QC is so important, too. After all, if QA is doing what it’s intended to – ensuring the project runs smoothly – surely there shouldn’t be any issues that need correcting.
But the truth is that, in construction, you really can’t have one without the other.
In construction, every project is different. Every project is unique. Every project is part of the ongoing evolution of construction. Which means that the processes and best practices that are followed as part of QA today may not be the same processes and best practices that need to be followed tomorrow. That’s where QC comes in.
QC influences and shapes QA. While QC is certainly important in terms of ensuring that the finished build is client-ready, it’s also critical for ensuring that QA is continuing to achieve what it’s supposed to: minimising risk in construction. QC enables teams to review and assess how issues are arising – to identify where they’re coming from and how they’re emerging – and continually adapt the QA strategy to reduce the risk of these issues on future projects. Quality must be a continuous loop.
Together, both quality control and quality assurance work to ensure that construction teams are building high quality environments that really work. And at SCAPE, we’re proud to operate with QA and QC at the very heart of our business.