Quality Assurance

Quality was one of the issues I was asked to work on just prior to leaving. 


In retrospect the firm must really have wanted my input to keep me around just for that.  Most firms would've just saved a few weeks salary and let me go earlier. 


The QA policy consisted of quite a few pages of most excellent theory and checklists. 


I believed that this encouraged people to take shortcuts and skip the text and go for the checklists, or get bogged down in the text and skip the checklists. 


I knew we never had much fee / time to allocate to QA, so I thought it would be more effective to cut to the chase and enable staff to open up the policy, and BAM!, Do A, BAM!!, B, BAM!!! C and done.  On to the next project. 


I boiled it down to:


  • Who needed to do what and when.
  • What level of detail and checklist items the various staff levels on a project would be primarily responsible to perform.
  • What detail of checking of QA by higher and higher staffing levels would be necessary.
  • How staff could implement changes to checklists / procedures.
  • Periodic spot checking of PM's projects for conformance with office standards and QA policy (QA of QA).
  • Checklists to include tick off columns indicationg which staff level is responsible for each item when
  • The concept, if not the quantification, that rewards for conformance to office standards and QA policy weres vital for a successful QA program..


The last item is a task that I had worked on several times for the firm.  It is I believe THE critical element of Continuous Improvement.  It shouldn't be necessary to remind anyone that more can always be acheived with the carrot than the stick, yet all too  many managers appear to ignore this, and let fear be the incentive.  It may not be a deliberate "plan", it's more likely that they lack the ability to excel at their job and create an incentives.




The best staff management and the best intentions of quality control can't solve all "production" problems though.  I often had resource allocation problems on my projects, which is a function of money, which is a function of competition and the economic cycle.  In architecture, competition and economic cycles will nearly always result in insufficient resource allocation on some projects, for some managers.


The reality also that we live in a world of limited resources, and that extends right into the management meeting.  Therefore, a project, and a manager, will be shorted sooner or later.  


It would be nice if accepting less could be recognized in our culture as a good thing.  Yet, I've not seen those that accept less, getting rewarded more. 


But that's another story.