Mott MacDonald Quality Director Judith Ward and Senior Quality Manager Scott Walker discuss the importance of quality and the consequences of not addressing it.
High quality is something we all want, but what exactly do we mean by this when it comes to projects and services?
Judith Ward (JW): To thrive and continually improve, high quality should be embedded in everything an organisation does. It is as much about management as projects and services. Achieving high quality helps organisations improve efficiency, reduce risk, and adapt to changing conditions – whether that’s market, technology, customer or climate change. That helps them improve their products, services, systems and processes, which in turn enables them to stand out from competitors.
Why implement quality in projects?
JW: Quality affects nearly everything in projects, from productivity and profitability to client satisfaction and public perception. Some organisations occasionally compromise it to reduce project costs, but there is a much higher chance of significant expenditure overrun in the medium and longer terms if quality isn’t embedded into projects.
Scott Walker (SW): A focus on quality also helps keep projects on track and supports ‘right first time’ delivery. Client disappointment and dissatisfaction quickly emerges when quality is overlooked, so it's crucial to keep problems to a minimum and give clients confidence to work with you again.
What are the typical consequences of not incorporating quality into projects?
SW: There are four key consequences. The main problem is extension of project delivery caused by poor quality control. When quality is not adhered to first time, the same work must often be amended or redone, resulting in extra work and time delays.
Cost also rises significantly when projects have to be reopened, which puts clients at an almost inevitable risk of going over budget.
One of the irreversible consequences of poor quality projects is reputational damage with the client and in the marketplace, which can lead to loss of clients and future work.
Poor quality work simply hands the advantage to competitors. As word spreads about your project problems, competitors can play off your shortcomings to win work, potentially justifying higher prices while doing so.
"Quality needs to be embedded throughout all organisations in the supply chain for a project to be fully successful."
Judith Ward, Mott MacDonald Quality Director
Are lessons being learned in the industry, given that quality is a crucial component of successful project delivery?
SW: They should be, but the ‘get it right initiative’ (GIRI) recently stated that the entire cost of errors in construction ranged between 10% and 25% of project costs. Between £10bn and £25bn is lost annually on construction projects alone – a staggering amount of money. This highlights how errors are being repeated at an alarming rate, and many people working within the industry are tolerating a culture of recurring snags and faults.
JW: There is a need to review the inspection and test plan (ITP) and standard operating procedures to prevent ongoing snags and faults. If the process and the ITP is right, we then need to focus on organisational behaviour when it comes to quality and sharing best practice, right across the industry, to gain consistency and reduce these errors.
How can organisations instil a quality culture in their projects?
JW: Quality needs to be embedded throughout all organisations in the supply chain for a project to be fully successful. The supply chain needs project directors, project management offices or quality teams that will point out problems, especially when a project is running behind schedule and rework may be necessary.
SW: It's critical to establish quality from the very beginning of a project and to ensure that a ‘right first time’ ethos is applied throughout its lifecycle. Quality teams can significantly contribute to this by setting professional standards for quality management.
Mott MacDonald is gold partner of the CQI’s Quality Live event in June – what can delegates expect to hear from the quality team at the event?
JW: Firstly, I can’t say enough about the team! We are all fully committed to delivering excellent quality advisory services that add tangible value and exceed client needs, and we really look forward to sharing more about these at Quality Live. We’ll be discussing our range of integrated core services and solutions with delegates, ranging from full gap analysis and action planning to developing improved business management systems throughout the project lifecycle for more robust management decision making.
Most of all, we’re looking forward to speaking with our industry colleagues and peers, as well as meeting clients and other organisations that are working to advance high quality in their organisations and their projects.
Mott MacDonald announced as a gold partner for Quality Live 2023
The International Quality Awards 2023
This year's awards span eight categories, celebrating the achievements of exceptional quality professionals and auditors across the globe
Become a member
Take your quality career to the next level by becoming a member of the CQI or an IRCA Certificated Auditor.