In this episode of the Smarter Building podcast, we caught up with Dr. Stephen Hamil, Innovation Director at NBS, to gain insights into the future landscape of the construction industry and the upcoming trends in 2024.
A simple trick to pass your next Q.A. audit
I am not a fan of Q.A. audits. It takes me back to my school days…” He tries hard but needs to: pay more attention to detail, check his work and complete it in time.” Sounds familiar?
What I and my parents wanted to hear was. ”He’s a delight to teach, is thorough and punctual with all his work.”
Ideally you would like this latter response from your clients and collaborators too, but you employ people and people are a law unto themselves.
We all know the situation, you make it clear countless times what they are supposed to do, provide training and reminders, but when the pressure is high what they need to do right now and what they are supposed to do are at odds and necessity wins.
Two weeks before the audit everyone rushes to update the documentation that should have happened as the work progressed. It is a silly situation because you are striving to retain a Q.A. badge that you really aren’t entitled to since you are not adhering to your own processes and are simply sweeping up the mess afterwards to con:
- The auditor, and
- Ultimately your customers that yours is a well-run business.
Why do you bother?
Most businesses don’t just want a Q.A. badge, they genuinely want to run a better operation and believe that the processes, if adhered to, will deliver exactly that. The problem is that staff struggle for one or more of the following reasons:
- The process slows them down,
- It’s easy to bypass the process,
- They can’t remember what they are supposed to do,
- They don’t know where to find the right procedure or simply can’t be bothered to look for it,
- They continue to undertake the old process believing it is the current one.
The path of least resistance is to get the job done and either hope nobody notices or seek forgiveness later.
What would change this?
I’m one of those problem staff who is not keen on procedures, I forget them easily and I’m happier focusing on what needs to be done rather than the administration that surrounds it. What has helped me is technology.
We sell M-Files as the document management engine inside Excitech DOCS, but also use it for our own business operations. So, depending on what I’m doing, when I create a new document, it can automatically be assigned a workflow with checking stages and approval, so I don’t need to think about what the procedure is, or what comes next. As I work on the document, the next steps and options are presented to me so I can’t get it wrong and it’s not a chore to do later; it’s easier for me to follow the process than to bypass it.
At certain stages, the system enters and/or updates the information automatically for me, by adding client details to a proposal or my signature or initials into a document as I approve it. So, it actually makes it easier than harder.
What about the audit?
When it comes to the day of the audit there is no panic as the system documents the process for you, so no need for a separate PDF to document the process, and it also provides a clear audit trail, which is just what the auditor wants to see.
I would be the first to admit that our processes are far from perfect and there remains much that we will improve over time, but the templates and workflows of M-Files are enabling us to replace the forms and procedures of our Q.A. system, and this is making what we do easy, automated, and completely in compliance with our Q.A.