Do It Right the First Time (Best Practice)

RT-203 Topic Summary
RT 203


The primary purpose of the research was to identify and describe the primary components of a comprehensive process for management and elimination of quality-error related costs for construction sites. While many errors and omissions occur in the scope development process and design, the focus was limited to implementation of error-reduction activities at the project execution level and within the construction organization.

The objective of the research was to identify and evaluate safety program components that may be convertible to quality processes that have a likelihood of an acceptable outcome on the first try. To accomplish the objective the following tasks were identified:

Task 1 Investigate the literature available on safety and quality inter-relationships.

Task 2 Identify processes that have been implemented with the goal or purpose to reduce error in field level construction.

Task 3 Prepare a survey of projects on safety and quality processes.

Task 4 Formulate a comprehensive “zero-rework” management process based on the results of comparing the findings of the literature and data collected from active project systems in safety and, potentially, from active defect management processes. 

Field rework can be broadly defined as: “extra field work performed to rectify nonconforming work regardless of the source of the nonconformance.” This includes design changes and design, fabrication, and construction errors that caused the initial incorrect work. Methodically tracking the factors contributing to field rework has consistently shown that it has a significant direct cost impact, usually four to five percent of construction costs.

The research found that worker involvement is needed to resolve the continuing problem of rework. Specifically, the research team found that increasing training on quality issues, identifying quality rework problem areas, increasing full-time quality staff, and having field personnel analyze pre-task quality efforts all contribute to less rework.

Worker involvement is needed to resolve the continuing problem of field rework. Thus, a behavior-based approach to rework has not been fully defined. Points from the research to support this conclusion are:

  • Amount of field training provided on quality issues for rework reduction is limited.
  • Tools and techniques available and used to identify quality rework problem areas like Pareto Analysis are available for field quality improvements, but are not widely used.
  • Full-time staffing levels for quality management are lower than for safety on average, but the knowledge requirements for rework prevention activities is discipline-specific.
  • Pre-task quality analysis (conducted by field personnel) lags implementation for quality.
  • Craft worker involvement is lower and incentive schemes are lacking for quality in contracts and in internally developed programs.
  • Analysis are available for field quality improvements, but are not widely used. 

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Demonstrated Management Commitment

Management commitment for rework reduction was found in the research. Management support and pre-project tasks were consistent for both safety and quality activities.

If management is committed to rework reduction by putting time and resources into an effective system, then rework direct and indirect will decrease. The management system to be effective must involve the buy-in of management and employees who share in the benefits of the successful system.

Generally the respondents provided more consistent data for commitment to safety than for rework or quality management. However, the overall commitment was not sufficiently different to suggest that management is not committed to effective processes. Qualification processes or techniques were generally lacking consistency; however the reporting, management accountability, and goal setting were clearly supported in the data.

The inclusion of quality personnel at project management meetings would also be a reflection of management commitment to the quality function on the project.
Reference: (RS203-1)

2 : Staffing for Quality

Staffing levels for quality were generally lower than safety, given the requirement of discipline specific knowledge for quality. No correlation was found for project size and staffing levels for either safety or quality.

Inspection personnel in quality acceptance should have some form of certification to perform their project function.
Reference: (RS203-1)

3 : Quality Pre-Project and Pre-Task Planning

Pre-project planning, constructability analysis, and project specific quality plans were consistent with safety planning. Pre-mobilization quality analysis and pre-task quality analysis were lagging.
(RS203-1, p. 25)

Is there evidence of pre-project and pre-task planning targeting rework reduction? The data shows an area for improvement exists in performing quality analysis of the project prior to mobilization and engaging field personnel in quality pre-task planning activities.

Site-specific pre-task quality planning, job quality analysis, and constructability reviews were included in the survey. These elements are key to describing what project level personnel are responsible for in the quality management planning for the project.
Reference: (RS203-1)

4 : Quality Education

Safety education is averaging 3 hours per month compared to quality training at 0.5 hours per month. A standard quality orientation was implemented on less than half of the projects. (RS203-1, p. 25)

Increasing training on quality issues, identifying quality rework problem areas, increasing full-time quality staff, and having field personnel analyze pre-task quality efforts all contribute to less rework. Is there formal training directed toward reducing rework on projects?

There is room to improve in the area of education on quality related issues. Training is clearly an area where there is disparity between safety and quality systems. Rework reduction would likely benefit from worker orientation to quality processes on the project and specialized training when appropriate.
Reference: (RS203-1)

5 : Worker Participation and Involvement

Worker involvement is needed to resolve the continuing problem of rework. The lower level of craft worker involvement and lack of incentives based on quality are potential areas for improvement. (RR203-11, p. 18)
Reference: (RR203-11)

6 : Subcontract Quality Management

Subcontractors are often required to use the prime contractor safety plan. Some projects require that the subcontractor submit their own safety plan for the project. Quality planning should follow a similar pattern. Subcontractors are more commonly required to submit safety plans than quality plans. (RS203-1, p. 9)

What provisions are made to manage subcontractor rework or quality? Prequalification of subcontractors for safety and quality had similar responses and appear to be a common practice. 
Reference: (RS203-1)

7 : Quality Rework Tracking

Tracking rework was very common on the study projects. Investigation of rework or defects was less common than for safety incidents. 

Is there a near-miss and quality error reporting system that initiates investigations at the project site and by upper management? In general rework and quality investigations, except for a limited number of respondents, do not have as formal a reporting process which could be an area for improvement.

Quality errors and near-errors also require investigation and reporting. (RR203-11, p. 65)

Reference: (RR203-11)

8 : Drug and Alcohol Testing

Pre-employment screening would be functional for both safety and quality programs “For cause” testing generally conducted more for safety than rework or defective work. (RS203-1, p. 25)
Reference: (RS203-1)

9 : Contract Type

Lump sum contracts were shown to have less rework than reimbursable contracts which is opposite the relationship for safety. (RS203-1, p. 25)

The type of contract could easily influence the quality program effectiveness if additional expenditures on quality would be perceived as cutting into profits. 
Reference: (RS203-1)

10 : Implementation Tool #1

IR203-2, Zero Field Rework Self-Assessment Opportunity Checklist

This checklist can assist in identifying areas for improvement to further strengthen a site construction quality process on the journey to zero field rework.
Reference: (IR203-2)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved cost, Improved schedule, Improved quality (reduced errors & omissions), Improved craft productivity

Research Publications

Making Zero Rework A Reality: A Comparison of Zero Accident Methodology to Zero Rework and Quality M - RR203-11

Publication Date: 03/2006 Type: Research Report Pages: 82 Status: Reference

Zero Field Rework Self-Assessment Opportunity Checklist - IR203-2

Publication Date: 11/2005 Type: Implementation Resource Pages: 14 Status: Tool

Making Zero Rework A Reality - RS203-1

Publication Date: 11/2005 Type: Research Summary Pages: 29 Status: Supporting Product

Presentations from CII Events

Session - Making Zero Field Rework A Reality

Publication Date: 06/2005 Presenter: Cindy Richartz Number of Slides: 19 Event Code: AC05