Published: 5 Jun 2019

Mike Buss, Head of Quality at Taylor Woodrow, explains how he uses his time as a CQI volunteer to actively contribute to quality improvement across the construction industry.

What is your professional background?

I am a civil engineer by trade but have also spent a significant proportion of my career in building. I have led delivery of a number of diverse projects, including a church, community centre and sports centre. My first quality role was as compliance manager on a £150m Private Finance Initiative project. I was thrown right in at the deep end, which provided a steep learning curve. This gave me the foundations for many of the quality and assurance principles I operate today. Since then, I have held several lead quality assurance roles, including a flagship £500m residential project in central London, prior to becoming Head of Quality at Taylor Woodrow.

Which branch/SIG/committee are you a member of and where are you based?

I am a member of the Construction Special Interest Group (ConSIG), a representative group for construction quality professionals. With over 1800 members, our aim is to advance quality and improvement in the construction industry. Our steering committee is comprised of representatives from contractor, designer and client organisations and we have numerous relationships with other key bodies across the industry.

I chair the ConSIG’s Competency Working Group – our aim is to increase awareness and competence in construction quality. To date, we have published articles on Designing Buildings Wiki with hits totalling over 26,000, established a quality training framework for non-quality professionals, and are working with the CQI to develop accredited training for construction quality professionals.

I have a passion for what we do in construction and our ability to directly and indirectly influence many peoples’ lives for the better.

I have also built, and manage, the ConSIG’s website. This is a portal providing a central hub of information on quality and improvement in Construction.

Additionally, I am actively involved in arranging the CPD events. For example, earlier this year we held a successful joint eventwith the British Quality Foundation.

How long have you been a CQI volunteer?

It must be at least five years since I joined the ConSIG.

What inspired you to volunteer with the CQI?

I have a passion for what we do in construction and our ability to directly and indirectly influence many peoples’ lives for the better. However, we are all aware that construction projects are often over budget and over-run, and (as confirmed through research conducted by the Get It Right Initiative) errors/defects can be attributed to around 20 per cent of wasted turnover in the UK. Furthermore, recent incidents have highlighted how quality issues can have catastrophic safety consequences.

The issues we face today are similar (if not the same) to those identified in Egans’ Rethinking Construction report (1998). The drivers for change proposed by Egan are all based around quality principles. 

I strongly believe that quality is the key to getting the construction industry to the place it should be. Joining the ConSIG has given me the opportunity to contribute to driving this change. 

How did you become a volunteer?

I attended an event arranged by ConSIG at the British Standards Institution (BSI) in Milton Keynes, after an appeal was made for volunteers to contribute to the Competency Working Group. I wanted to be part of something where I could actively contribute to quality improvement across the construction industry and it seemed to fit the bill. I eventually took the role of Chair for this group and, as a member of the steering committee, became actively involved in other aspects, such as arranging events and managing the website.

What is the most rewarding part of volunteering with the CQI?

I have found many benefits to both myself and my company through my involvement with ConSIG.  We have listed a number of these on our website. Aside from being able to make a positive contribution to improvement in construction, I have the opportunity to network with my peers. It can be reassuring to discover the challenges I face are often not unique and, either I can learn from someone who has ‘worn the T-shirt’ before, or we collectively identify areas where we can collaborate to resolve the issue. This is the reason, for example, we have set up a working group in conjunction with the CQI to develop a recognised training scheme for construction quality professionals.  

What has been the highlight of your volunteer experience so far?

I wrote two articles on Inspection & Test Plans (ITPs) that we published on Designing Building Wiki. This includes a free template that can be downloaded from our website. To date, these articles have had over 11,000 hits and are a top search hit on Google. 

Further to this, I was given the opportunity to present on Inspection and Test Plans at the Quality in Construction Summit in June 2018. It was a fantastic privilege to speak on behalf of the ConSIG at this prestigious event.   

What are the challenges of being a volunteer?

The ConSIG is growing and has become more prominent and successful in recent months. However, with this success has come an increased workload. It can be extremely challenging balancing work commitments, personal life and dedicating appropriate time to the group. We have some very dedicated volunteers who, thankfully, have been able to provide me with additional support. However, we are always looking for additional members who can be actively involved and help build on the success to date.