CQIC targets quality through collaboration

2 Oct 23

Since its launch earlier this year, the Construction Quality Improvement Collaborative has seen 78 organisations commit to its charter, representing around 30,000 employees within the Scottish construction sector, Colin Campbell from the Scottish Futures Trust told GIRI members at the autumn members’ meeting.

The CQIC is a new initiative under the remit of the Scottish Construction Accord that is dedicated to transforming the sector by improving quality, sustainability, and collaboration. It was established following a string of high-profile failures in the construction sector and had its official launch at a joint event with GIRI in Edinburgh in February.

“The CQIC’s vision is for quality to be central to all parts of the Scottish construction sector, and all decision making, and that must be from both the client and delivery side,” said Colin. “Why do we want to create this quality culture? Because it is good for society and communities, and good for the environment. Zero Waste Scotland estimates that 50% of waste in Scotland is generated by those involved in the built environment, and a lot of that comes from doing things twice.”

The aim, said Colin, is user satisfaction, building safety, and achieving net zero. “If we are going to deliver this, we need projects built to the right standards so they perform the way we want them to perform. That’s also good for productivity and profitability, as well as on-site safety. If we want an industry that is attractive to the current and future workforce, we need a reputation that makes people want to be a part of it.”

The construction charter is at the heart of the CQIC, which organisations can commit to, signalling their commitment to a quality culture. Outlining the charter, Colin explained: “The first thing we want is good quality control and assurance – doing it right first time at the right time with the right processes, mechanisms and resources. If we don’t have the right budget, programme, design, materials and skills, we will not deliver, so part of committing to the charter is a commitment to have those things in place.”

It’s time, he argued, for clients to move away from the idea of “getting things done cheaply and quickly”, because that mindset won’t deliver quality outcomes. “We need the right behaviours, and it starts with leadership. This is so important to delivering the right culture. It starts with senior people at the client and every organisation involved. We need people who are engaged and committed to creating the positive environment that is necessary to deliver quality.”

There also needs to be alignment with policy, which is why the Scottish Government is involved, and good delivery systems, including the way projects are procured. “We also need everyone to have access to the right information, starting with the client and going right down to the person with the tools on the site, and clarity of roles and responsibilities.”

All these aims are embodied in the CQIC Charter, and 78 organisations have committed to it since it launched in February, 15 of them also GIRI members. A quarter of these are from the contracting side, but Colin said there is also good representation from trade and representative organisations. “Where we are lacking is the public sector, and we have a relatively small representation from local authorities, and even smaller from the NHS, but we are addressing this. The head of the Scottish Government department responsible for NHS infrastructure and sustainability has written to all the health boards to reinforce the importance of construction quality and encourage them to commit to the charter.”

Between them, signatory organisations represent 30,000 employees directly employed in the sector. The charter is also being referenced in the Scottish Government civil engineering contractor framework procurement, asking people how they will deliver on its principles. “We can’t tell people to commit, but we are asking them how they will deliver on construction quality, and this will be one of the KPIs they will be measured on, so we will be following through in terms of delivery.”

Colin acknowledged that work still needs to be done to spread the word about the CQIC. One way this is happening is through a series of regional quality forums, where a local authority brings together all the organisations in their frameworks for construction delivery to talk about the charter, quality, and how to deliver to the right standards.

“We are always looking for more people to commit, but we want them to go beyond simply ticking a box,” said Colin. “We want people to embed quality, to understand the benefits and that this is a win/win for everyone. We also want people to share their experiences, and we have a section on the CQIC website where people can share their quality experiences, both good and bad. If something works, tell people. These are anonymous examples of good practice that we can share. Why did something work? What was done differently? How can others learn from it?”

Ultimately, the CQIC wants to change the industry for the better, but it won’t happen overnight, said Colin. “We are prepared to work for it and to collaborate, which is why we are members of GIRI. It is all about collaboration, cooperation, working together and showing leadership to deliver a sustainable quality culture.”

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