The Concept of Quality
The quality concept has been a matter of contemplation in the entire history of management practices and still elicits considerable interest today. Quality as a subject has been addressed in many trade and academic journals, in training conferences and even by the media. Consequently, bit has become the most coon subject amongst executives and managers in today’s organizations. In a survey that was carried out recently product quality and the improvement of service was highly ranked by US businessmen as the most serious challenge (Ireland, 1991).
Critical discussions about quality as a god or bad were initiated in the last century by Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. The model to the Greek philosophers was arête meaning excellence. This was practically, morally, physically and intellectually (Walton, 1986). Its definition tended to vary with each context to man it was connoted to mean excellence in many ways. As much as Crete’s application was subject to various phenomena, for Plato it was supreme. Quality has also been debated recently in terms of excellence. To Bahia Quality is the investment of the best effort and skill possible to generate the most admirable and finest results feasible. You either do it halfway or do it well. Quality is obtaining the highest achievable standards against being satisfied with fraudulence it does not concede to being second rated (Bahia, 2009).
In certain fields for instance painting, religion, sculpture and music where unique preferences dominate judgments, quality can only be assessed in abstract terms. The definition of quality as excellence means it is comprehended ahead of its meaning as an undeviating experience prior to and autonomous of intellectual abstractions.
Quality has been defined by various scholars as value, exceeding or meeting customer’s requirements, conformance to specifications, avoidance of loss and fitness for use. It is described as the single critical for4ce that has led to the economic growth of companies in the global markets. In spite of the time or context where quality is evaluated the concept in itself has had numerous and jumbled definitions. It has consequently been used to define various phenomena. Progressive research and inquiry on quality related issues should be built on a complete comprehension of distinct definitions of the correlations amongst several variables. Apart from that, quality cannot be assured when the dependent variable’s meaning changes continuously (Reeves and Bednar, 1994).
The practical nature in which quality was defined as excellence in issues of commerce was first experienced in the 18 century when western traders started pursuing wider markets for their goods. This wider perception of quality was based on the belief that the decisive arbiter of trade was the consumer and that the success of businesses was based on how well they served consumer interests and not guild interests. The final judge was thus the market. Traders began generating inferior cheaper goods for a trendy market and their quality was evaluated in comparison to their prices. Walton contents that the concept of value has to be incepted in any definition of quality. He opines that in any absolute sense quality cannot have the trendy meaning of best rather it only means best for particular conditions inherent in customers. These conditions include the products prices and their actual uses. In this sense it is impossible to separate product cost from product quality (Walton 1986).
Figure 1: Finishing Works Interior Architect, 2010
The research design is mainly aimed at investigating how the contractors are able to benefit from quality assurance and design in construction projects. It has been indicated in the current statistics that there are very many problems that are encountered in the construction projects attributable to lack of quality assurance procedures and indicator (Hughes, 1999). It, therefore, followed that quality assurance issues in developing countries’ construction sector can only be solved when the management and the top stakeholders take quality seriously and device appropriate assurance measures.
The major and sensitive part of commercial, development projects within the cities and residential areas is architectural and finishing (Tang, 10). Anecdotal evidence exists, suggesting that quality, particularly finishing is hardly given the attention it deserves at the various stages of design and construction. The reason for this can be traced to the traditional procurement dynamics where architects design, contractors build, and interior designers are brought in to finally contend with issues of aesthetics.
Thus, issues of design and build quality should be mandatory considerations throughout the various stages of design and construction, not only to enhance the integrity of the building but also minimize future post-construction maintenance costs and expenditure. Additional advantages of tackling issues of design and construction quality very early on in project execution include higher productivity, reduced workload, reduced costs, increased satisfaction for the stakeholders and satisfactory outcome.
Quality assurance is defined as a process where all the requirements of quality are audited and the outcome of quality control in order to ensure the achievement of desired standards and that the required tools and techniques are used (Chung, 2002). Quality control can be described as the procedure involved in the assessment and recording of outcomes that are obtained during the execution of all the quality activities. These procedures also help with the analysis of performance and thereafter, possible changes that should take place should be recommended. The major study also works towards the identification, discovery and examination of quality assurance and quality control of the projects. Such examination helps with the completion of works and leads to the validation and refining of procedures that assist with the implementation, execution and control of all the processes involved. Such processes are done in accordance with the ISO and other applicable standards and codes.
Benefits of quality assurance and control are the improvement and facilitation of all the quality procedures. The other benefit is that quality assurance and quality control will help with the identification of what lead to poor quality product and the recommendation of correct action in order to get rid of the causes of the poor quality production (Chung, 85). The work of quality assurance is also faced with the problem of communication among all the stakeholders and therefore they fail to express their opinion, which could be of helpful to the construction work on site.
There have been also certain problems that arise because of the disqualification of the contractors and architectural work, which is misrepresented for use for a wrong purpose. It is therefore revealed that these problems can cause late completion of construction work, misappropriation of money in many companies and above all reduction of confidence on the part of the contractors due to poor work of quality assurance and control in the construction work (Tang, 2005). It is therefore with great importance to research on these problems with the aim of enhancing the construction industry when all the above problems are not made available during the finishing construction process. This is only possible if all the work of constructions is quality assured to eliminate all those problems that is the hindrance of improper work in the construction project.
It is necessary for all the construction work to employ the spirit of teamwork, cooperation and to require all the stakeholders to generate necessary effort towards the successful achievement of the construction work. The quality of the project is therefore dependent on the ability of the members to diagnose the main objective of the project which is necessitated by its quality. The project quality can only be achieved when the environment, project aims, control technique and the level of reviewing the information in the construction project develop a good modeling relationship (Hughes, 1999). The purpose of the project is to provide the required comments about project to the clients so that they can ascertain the risks that are associated with the construction project.
The possible risk that could be identified is the possibility of project failure. The introduction of quality assurance and control in the globe has influenced quality work in the construction site and its advancement has led to low production of poor building materials, which can cause low quality work in the construction industry. For the purpose of customer satisfaction, it is therefore upon all the construction industries to meet the requirement of customers, which calls for the increase of the quality of all the products and services of the construction companies that looks after finishing (interior & architectural) works in the whole World.
The major part of the construction is the quality assurance, which requires the contractors to pay much attention for the construction work to be successful. As a matter of fact Hughes (1999) argues that service firms tend to be curtailed in their efforts to achieve high quality because of their unwillingness to espouse manufacturing techniques. It is therefore my key desire to assess the quality of construction and gauge clients’ satisfaction. Several problems have been encountered while trying to enforce quality assurance process in the construction industries, such as additional cost, and project delays. However, these problems pale into insignificance relative to the consequences of not designing and constructing to quality, resulting in time overruns and huge correctional expenditure.
Lack of quality assurance during a construction project also hinders the contractors from meeting deadlines and this leads to financial misappropriation to the users and therefore, reflects a negative consequence on the construction’s returns (Chung, 2002). Apart from the problems mentioned above, inadequate quality assurance can also invite litigation on architects, subcontractors, suppliers and engineers – the blame game typical of the construction industry. A client always wants to experience a good feeling and the beauty of his/her house and to enjoy the pleasure of the client, but due to absence of quality assurance in construction, it is not possible to fulfill this comfort. My argument will be based on quality assurance in project examination and design (Bahia, 2009).
Aims of the Research
The major aim of this research will be to spell out and improve the criteria and procedures in a way that it will go in line with all the focus based on finishing. These aims will work despite the condition and kind of deliverables. The major focus will be based on the singling out and rectifying the crucial concerns for the quality and project managers throughout the construction project. These processes may slow the finishing of the project and the budget. The identification and singling out of the factors that may slow the construction process will help the managers to see that the job is done perfectly from the first to the last day. Since subjective quality is critical this paper will explore ways of measuring not only objective but also subjective quality in order to meet the set threshold in construction works.
This study goes further to look into development, improve and filter the present models, tools, criteria, procedures and techniques for quality assurance and control during the construction process in accordance with the most current ISO and the applicable standards and codes. The main objectives of this study are as follows:
- The study will spell out the needs of quality assurance and quality control during the construction process in relation to the finishing works which may lead to the success of the project
- The study will seek to adopt high technology tools to enhance quality by getting the opportunity of utilizing the latest smartphones and other new technologies to support the effectiveness of Quality themes.
- The study will seek to devise, establish, validate and refine the procedures and the acceptance criteria with defined tolerances of the identified finishing works in general enhance quality control and assurance during construction work.
- Investigate ways in which both subjective and objective quality can be measured in order to evaluate the extent to which services or products could meet the required standard of finished works during construction work.
Contractors of organizations are to adopt appropriate quality assurance and quality analysis techniques to help them improve on the way they handle their construction projects for their clients and as a result, the organization can perform either well or poorly. To understand the importance of quality assurance and quality analysis techniques in the organization, the organization need improves on quality. The following questions are intended:
- To what extent is quality emphasised in developing countries’ construction sector?
- What are the problems facing construction industry in developing countries with regards to quality assurance?
- How can quality assurance be implemented in building design and construction in developing countries?
- What capacity and institutions are necessary to drive quality assurance in the construction sector of developing countries?
- What are the policies and strategies necessary to drive quality assurance in developing countries’ construction sector? Will quality assurance put an end to poor finishing of construction outputs in developing countries?
Significant of the Study
A general consensus exists amongst built environment consensus that effective and well developed quality management techniques is a necessary prerequisite to quality construction client’s satisfaction. They therefore try to inculcate this in their operations. To prove the perception, there is need to research on the effects of construction quality to enhance customers’ satisfaction at the end. Contractors and sub-contractors use the findings to incorporate effective and efficient construction techniques in their organizations to not only maximize employee and organization performance, but also improve quality of the construction project by using quality materials, highly skilled personnel and just in time delivery.
Scope of Study
This research is limited to identifying the dimensions of the use of quality assurance and quality control to improve the finishing construction work to ensure that all the problems encountered are fully solved. The research is also to rotate on the steps which allow the quality to be assured in the construction design to eliminate all the discrepancies which are likely to occur at the construction site.
Various studies conducted by different scholars support the assertion that quality assurance and control plays a vital role in the construction and engineering sector. Abdulaziz A. Bubshait and Tawﬁq H. Al-Atiq conclude that the rationale behind the execution of quality assurance systems is to improve on construction projects quality thus nourishing the client’s desires (Bubshait & Tawﬁq, 1999). Analogous results were portrayed in a research conducted by Sarosh H. Lodi, Syed M. Ahmed, Rizwan U. Farooqui and Muhammad Saqib (2008). The authors revealed in their scholarly work that quality assurance and control assumes a vital role in the projects of contractors. They expounded that failure of a contractor to comply with the quality assurance systems compromises his/her construction or engineering operations. Lack of compliance jeopardizes constructors or engineers project thus incurring losses or personal injuries. The authors conclude by stating that virtuous project managers interpret and execute the quality standard systems in the operations of the construction or engineering projects.
Quality Assurance and Quality Control
Due to the level of escalated risks involved in construction and engineering projects, one has to ensure strict adherence to quality assurance and control. In case a construction project is compromised by external elements, it raises the risk of delayed completion thus having an impact on the general performance of the construction. It is important to note that one has to design an internal quality assurance system in order to ensure the final product relayed to the consumer is of high quality. A number of constructors and engineers have benefited from the adoption and implementation of a quality assurance systems.
The adoption of the aforementioned system creates uniformity in the services rendered by the engineer or constructor. An effective quality assurance system plays a vital role in a contractor’s project. The adoption of the aforementioned system ensures that there are no hiccups in a construction project. The ISO 9000 standard falls within the realms of an effective quality assurance system in the field of engineering and construction. The ISO 9000 standard, as well as the PMBOK Guides, has been adopted by various countries globally. The quality assurance system adopted encompasses both external and internal elements (Chung, 2002).
The new models in assessment focus on the internal aspect of the quality assurance. It concentrates on activities, which are geared towards refining the poise of the construction organization thus achieving the quality envisioned. The internal quality system being referred to above is coined as the quality management system. A construction company’s profits and product quality may be improved if it efficiently implements the quality management system. Alternatively, the external management system places its focal point on the clients.
The quality management system enhances the assurance of the client on the contractor’s quality system. The external aspect of the quality system in this context is referred to as the system of quality assurance. The aforementioned program can prove to be successful only if the top most executive in the firm assume all the accountability for construing and executing the project. The successful implementation of the quality assurance system by a contractor ensures that his/her customers have heightened confidence on the contractor’s service delivery. A good example would be the successful adoption and implementation of the internal and external aspects of quality assurance system in Saudi Arabia, which has led to the eventual growth in the construction and engineering sector.
The ISO 9000 standard and the PMBOK Guide are designed to establish a universal principal quality assurance and control system, which is pertinent to various economic and industrial sectors. The aforementioned standard system demonstrates the contractor’s commitment to adhere to his/her client’s quality requests. The underpinning of the PMBOK Guide and the ISO 9000 standard system is the American National Standards Institute. However, the adoption and implementation of the ISO 9000 standard and PMBOK Guides in the engineering and construction plane is not as universal as in the manufacturing sector.
The varying understandings made of the PMBOK Guide and the ISO 9000 standard are attributed to its generic nature. Furthermore, the actual interpretation and implementation of the ISO 9000 standards may be distinct from one nation to the next. The rationale behind the implementation of the ISO 9000 standards is multifold. Primarily, the quality system acts to scale to higher heights the quality of operations of a construction or engineering company. Secondly, it works to ensure that the client’s desires are met through the product. Finally, the ISO 9000 standard and the PMBOK Guide ensure that the competition within the construction industry is healthy. Therefore, the overall perception of the ISO 9000 standards and the PMBOK Guide varies from one company to another based on the aforementioned rationale.
This study will comprise an empirical research. Empirical research is considered to be a means of acquiring knowledge and information through either direct or indirect in experience. Empirical evidence can be represented and analyzed either qualitatively or quantitatively. The representation of evidence through qualitative or quantitative form enables a researcher gets to answer the empirical questions, which should be depicted in a clear manner and be answerable by the evidence I collected. The design of the research being conducted varies by field and the problem question being investigated. Most researchers choose to combine both forms of analysis namely, qualitative and quantitative, in order to improve the mode of answering questions which cannot be studied in other settings.
A researcher conducting needs to develop a theory regarding the subject under investigation. The second step is that I will propose a hypothesis from the theory of the investigated question. Thirdly, some predictions are made in relation to the hypothesis that can be tested using experiments I developed. The empirical research has a cycle that guides one on the steps to follow to come up with valid results. The cycle starts with, observation, then induction, deduction, testing and finally the evaluation (Hughes, 1999).
The first part of the research is observation where I collect and organizes the information that will be used to come up with a hypothesis. The second stage of the empirical cycle is induction where I try to formulate hypothesis according to the data they had collected. The next step of the cycle is the deduction stage where I deduct the possible consequences of the hypothesis made. The deductions are done using testable predictions. The fourth stage of the empirical cycle is the testing stage, where the hypothesis is tested using new empirical material. The final stage of the empirical research is the evaluation stage where I evaluate the results of the research (outcome). Using the empirical research method will help and support in refining and validating the Quality Control and Assurance objectives and Deliverables (Tang, 2005). This ensues in the form of procedures, acceptance criteria, and lesson learned databases through real-time case studies of the projects executed successfully in terms of time, cost and scope.
When I combine the masters that I already obtained on Design Strategy and Innovation with the Ph.D., these combinations can make me have very high qualifications for management of expert quality, researcher in quality assurance and control tools, techniques and methods to apply and improve the management of quality systems in the governmental, non-governmental and private sector. I can also use my doctorate and the available research studies towards working as an instructor at various universities for project management, consultant in quality control and an engineer in executive engineering.
I can also arise with modern quality methods, acceptance criteria and procedures for the completion and architectural activities that can improve various construction projects. The project will also work towards the filtration and validation of quality assurance and control aims and these aims can be delivered in form of acceptance criteria, procedures and lessons learned through immediate studies.
In conclusion, the plan I have for the near future is to have a business of my own after I complete my Ph.D. studies. With the business, I will be able to establish a highly qualified specialist who will only work on the finishing construction because such activities should be done by qualified personnel. This ensues by singling out the needs and addressing modern database, finishing ITPs and check lists, tools, acceptance criteria and procedures through specialized technology for easier implementation and execution of completion of work with high quality levels during the construction process, which can give us customer satisfaction. The completion of this Ph.D. will be the initial step to the attainment of my goal.
Bahia, M. (2009). Reconciling literature about client satisfaction and perceived services quality. Online publication, 27-43.
Bubshait, A. and Al-Atiq, T. (1999). “ISO 9000 Quality Standards in Construction” Journal of Management in Engineering, 15(6), 41–46.
Chung, H W. (2002). “Understanding Quality Assurance in Construction”: A Practical Guide to ISO 9000 for Contractors. London: E & FN Spon.
Hughes, C., Hwang, B., Kim, J. H., Eisenman, L. T., & Killian, D. J. (1999).Quality of life in applied research: A review and analysis of empirical measures. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 99, 12-78.
Ireland, L. R. (1991). Quality Management For Projects and Programs, Project Management Institute. 34-43.
ISO. (2008). “Quality Management System – Requirements” ISO 9001- Furth edition International Standard, Reference number: ISO 9001 Switzerland(E) 3-14.
Macdonald, John. (1993). “Understanding Total Quality Management in a Week”: England, 6 – 13.
Peter, H. (2006). “Quality Management in the Construction Industry”, Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement (CQPI) University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison: USA, 1-7.
Project Management Institute (2008). “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge” (PMBOK Guide) – Fifth Edition, identifying Stakeholders Quality Control and Assurance. Available: www.PMI.org USA, 23, 261, 201-213.
Reeves and Bednar (1994). Defining quality: alternatives and Implications. Academy of Management Review, Vol.19, No. 3, 419-445.
Spekknink, D. (1995).“Building Research and Information”, Architect’s and consultant’s quality management system, volume 23 number 2, 79-105.
Tang, S L. (2005). “Construction Quality Management”: Hong Kong University Press, 44-47.
Walton, M. (1986). The Deming Management Method. Peregree Books. 23-43.
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