WHAT is Quality Assurance/Quality Control?
The terms Quality Assurance and Quality Control are used in conjunction at times, and are used interchangeably at other times. In reality, however, Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) are actually different undertakings. 'Quality Assurance' is managing the process, while 'Quality Control' is reviewing the product. Our emphasis should be on the Quality Assurance process, thus making the subsequent Quality Control exercises more of a cursory review than a comprehensive evaluation.
Quality Assurance, however, should really be thought of more as a 'state of mind' than a 'process'. Ensuring complete, accurate, well-thought-out quality presentations and documents should be everyone's primary goal from the beginning ' from programming, through design, through construction documents. This conviction should pervade every thought, every decision, and every action that is made throughout the project duration. If this standard of care is exercised throughout the entire process, the resulting construction documents will inevitably be high quality products, and minimal time will be need to be expended for the actual QC efforts. This also benefits both the owner and contractor in terms of obtaining accurate and reliable bids, as well as fielding fewer questions during construction.
And remember that the reason we create construction documents is to convey information to other parties ' the documents are NOT just for contractors to bid and build from, and they are NOT just for our own edification and expedition purposes. This reason is especially valid when presenting the documents to our clients, who may benefit from the additional clarity of information if they are unfamiliar with the construction industry. So, in addition to facilitating the actual construction process, these documents are also for:
- Owners to review and approve from;
- Facility users to understand and comment from;
- Consultants to incorporate design elements, to engineer, and to create construction documents from;
- Code officials to review and inspect from;
- Subcontractors to bid, quantify, and generate shop drawings from; and
- Construction Administrators and Project Architects to review and process RFI's and Submittals from.
Our documents must convey all the necessary information clearly, concisely, and accurately for ALL the intended users on the construction team.
Remember, conveying information is WHAT we do, and WHY we do it.