Quality Management: Construction Industry’s Customer Satisfaction


By Iyaloo ya Nangolo The client’s objectives in the construction project are the achievement of quality, cost, time, and utility. Quality is the building level of conformance to specification, while cost relates to first cost or price of the building. Time is timing, or the completion of the project in accordance with the planned time, whereas utility includes running costs, maintenance issues, buildability and flexibility for alterations or other uses (Rwelamila, et al. 1999). The four objectives present constraints and choices to the project management team. The balancing should therefore be struck to achieve them without compromising resources available on the project. Most construction projects are procured based on only two of these objective parameters, namely: cost and time (Rwe-lamila, 1996). The optimum utility of a construction project can be obtained by making value judgements between higher initial costs and longer-term savings (Rwelamila, et al. 1994). Quality, in contrarily, has been neglected (Rwela-mila, 1996). According to Rounce (1998) the main attributes to the neglect of quality among others are, firstly, broken promises on likely availability of design information. Secondly, frequently re-design or re-working of drawings. Thirdly, not solving root causes of design management problems and finally, the inadequate definition of client’s brief before starting the design. The true cost of quality neglect or quality non-conformance in projects is therefore,the total cost of meeting the client’s requirements (Rounce, 1998). The cost of non-conformance to quality of works is generally greater than the cost of adhering to quality. The quality problem is not considered as a management problem but rather a technical one. The reason is that quality is never looked at in financial terms, like the way everything else is (Crosby, 1984), but Culp, et al. (1993) suggest that there are many sources of costs associated with poor quality, pointing out redoing of work, correcting errors, reacting to customer complaints, having overtime, idle time, or need to use temporary help due to poor planning. Other costs are having deficient project budgets due to poor negotiation skills, missing deadlines and solving problems. Non-conformance costs in the construction phase can often arise from faults in the design phase and may appear unrelated due to the time lag before the reasons are ultimately identified (Rounce, 1998). Culp, et al. (1993) further point out that sadly these costs of not achieving quality are costs that people are used to and accept, hence, some would resist the new, readily identifiable costs of Total Quality Management (TQM). In a similar study to Culp, et al (1993); Graves (1993) classifies costs of quality in four categorises, namely, prevention, appraisal, correction and failures. In most cases the non-conformance to quality might lead to financial losses of the enterprise concerned and might as well be a contributing factor to its failure (Ashford, 1989). The latter is due to the fact that much more of a firm’s resources are invested into correcting the problems and dealing with quality failures than on prevention (Graves, 1993). On the contrary, Graves (1993) advocates that a huge potential of cost savings can be harnessed by adopting TQM, because most organisations spend 30-40 % of their cost and time on rework. The outcomes of a successful implementation of TQM can therefore be the most important achievement of an organisation if it is to secure the robust and competitive edge in a particular industry. Graves (1993) further stresses that on average successful companies require 2-3 years to begin to show tangible results. These results include better employee relations, improved quality and lower cost, greater customer satisfaction and improved market share and profitability. Quality management is very essential, but in most cases is confused with the concepts of quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA). The QC being concerned much with the inspection or checking of work products for defects and faults (Culp, et al.1993), while the QA, defined as objective capability of a contractor to produce construction work in a cost-effective way to meet the customer’s requirement (Chartered Institute of Building, 1990). QA makes the quality management concentrate much on catching mistakes after they occur rather than as they occur or before and thus attributes to more problems in the construction industry (Rwelamila, 1996). The Quality Management, therefore, is concerned with preventing the production of defective products or services by means of controlling the factors in a particular process, which caused these defective products or service (Ishikawa, 1985). Culp, et al. (1993) point out key guidelines to Quality Management as follows: – Focus on customer satisfaction – Constantly search for ways to improve quality – Involve those closest to the work in improving the processes for doing the work – Prevent errors rather than correct them – Fix the process, not the blame – Recognise the fact that teamwork, co-operation, and trust are essential – Providing training – Make decisions based on facts, not on intuition or emotions; – Recognise and publicise the successes. References Ashford, J.L (1989). The Management of Quality in Construction. E.& F.N.Spon, New York, London Akintoye, A. 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(1993). “Total Quality: Does it Work in Engineering Organisations?” Journal of Management in Engineering.,9(4), 444 – 455. Ishikawa, K. (1985) What is Quality Control? Prentice-Hall ,Inc. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Juran, J.M. (1989) Juran on Leadership for Quality. The Free Press, A Division of Macmillan, Inc. New York. Kubal, M. (1994 ) Engineered Quality Construction: Partnering and TQM. 1st ed., McGraw-Hill, Inc. New York Manning,C (1990) TQM In Building Design & Construction: TQM Workshop I. Des Moines, Iowa. McCambridge J.A and Tucker M.L (1998) “TQM Implementation in State Departments of Transportation: View From The Firing Line” Journal of Management in Engineering 14(1) 49-57 Nangolo I J (2000) “Total Quality Management implementation in Public Works Departments of Western Cape Province Local Authorities” Unpublished BSc Honours thesis, Department of Construction Economics and Management, University of Cape Town, Cape Town. 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SA. * Iyaloo ya Nangolo is a Professional Quantity Surveyor, a Partner at Jordaan Oosthuysen Nangolo Quantity Surveyors and currently enrolled with the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business for an MBA Finance Programme). He writes in his own capacity.