Quality assurance in the built environment. It’s all about being connected!

A measure of excellence or a state of being free from defects, deficiencies and significant variations. It is brought about by strict and consistent commitment to certain standards that achieve uniformity of a product in order to satisfy specific customer or user requirements.

Our industry has focused, for far too long, on the idea that facilities should be simply maintained in their present state. “Facilities Management” or “Computerized Maintenance Management System” software strives to workflow and document maintenance of the status quo. In the real world, our buildings are in constant change, driven by changing customer needs, the need to reduce energy consumption, and competition to do more with less. Efficiency is only gained through change, and that means we need to rethink core concepts in Facilities Management.

Let’s think of Facilities Management as “Quality Assurance for Buildings”. Quality, as defined above, is all about satisfying customer or user specific requirements….and those requirements change over time. K.C. Lam defines Quality Assurance as “prevention of quality problems through planned and systematic activities”. In other words, a Quality Assurance system takes into account the changing needs of people over time. That sounds like a much better solution to me.

Quality assurance is broadly termed as the prevention of quality problems through planned and systematic activities (including documentation). These include the establishment of a good quality management system and the assessment of its adequacy, the auditing of the operation of the system, and the review of the system itself. Therefore, the essence of a quality system is

• Say what you do
• Do what you say
• Record that you have done it
• Audit for effective implementation
• Feedback and improve

Quality Assurance System for Quality Building Services Maintenance
K. C. Lam (2001)
Building Services Engineering Department The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Lam goes on to say,

Quality assurance for building services maintenance works as a management system. This is due to the fact that:
1. It covers all the activities of an organization (i.e. client, design, contractor and maintenance provider)
2. It covers every action taken within an organization from the identification to the need for a service, installation, process, system, etc., through to its completion and delivery.
3. It actively involves people

So, Quality Assurance in the built environment is about collaboration, involving client, designer, contractor, maintenance providers and building occupants, working together to create a better environment.