Quality assurance (QA) in construction ensures that construction projects are in accordance with industry regulations and standards. It also ensures that the final product meets the owner’s requirements and expectations, is safe for use, and performs as intended.

QA differs from QC (quality control) in that QA deals with the processes of ensuring the project meets the required standards, thereby preventing risks and errors. On the other hand, QC deals with inspecting the outcome (product) after construction to ensure that there are no defects – and if there are any, QC helps correct them. This article only focuses on QA.

QA should not just be treated as a box to tick when it comes to construction — specifically during construction document reviews. QA should be intentionally implemented and executed. And when done right, you will be able to save costs and avoid or mitigate construction risks. You will also be able to improve communication and enhance the overall quality of the project documentation.

Quality is never an accident. Quality is always the result of high intentions, sincere efforts, intelligent direction, and skillful execution.

What is Quality Assurance in Construction Document Reviews?

QA in construction document reviews refers to the process of reviewing construction documents to ensure that they meet the owner’s requirements, are accurate, complete, and in compliance with industry regulations, codes, and standards.

The stakeholders involved in the QA process for project documentation include:

  • Project owners
  • Architects and Engineers
  • General Contractors (GCs)
  • Subcontractors
  • Construction Inspectors.
  • Regulatory Agencies
  • Third-Party Quality Assurance Firms

It’s worth noting that QA managers, who may be part of a QA firm, play a critical role in ensuring the success of document reviews. They are responsible for developing and implementing QA policies and procedures, conducting audits, and ensuring that all documents comply with the required standards.

QA managers collaborate with project managers, architects, and other stakeholders to ensure that all documents are accurate, complete, and meet the required standards.

Additionally, it is the duty of QA managers to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in the review process and that they understand their roles and responsibilities.

They also need to ensure that all stakeholders have access to the required resources and tools to perform their roles effectively. This includes providing access to the necessary software, training, and documentation.

QA in construction document reviews
Construction quality management process

QA Components in Construction Document Reviews

The components of quality assurance in construction document reviews are the various aspects that make a complete QA process.

Document Control

Document control in construction QA involves establishing document standards, templates, and procedures. It also deals with ensuring that the appropriate stakeholders properly review, approve, and maintain the documents.

Effective document control ensures that project stakeholders have access to the right information at the right time and that the documentation is accurate, complete, and up-to-date.

Document Review and Approval Process

The document review process allows the QA team and other stakeholders to review the project documentation to ensure accuracy, completeness, and compliance with regulatory requirements and project specifications.

The approval process, on the other hand, ensures that project documentation is authorized by the appropriate parties before any decision is made to proceed to the next phase of the construction project.

Document Version Control

Version control is the process of managing multiple versions of a document to ensure that the latest version is always used in order to minimize or avoid errors and omissions.

This component of the QA process involves tracking changes made to the document, assigning unique identifiers to each version, and ensuring that the latest version is easily accessible to all stakeholders.

Document Storage and Retrieval

This involves establishing a system for organizing, storing, and retrieving project documentation in a way that is secure, efficient, and easily accessible.

Effective document storage and retrieval ensure that stakeholders can quickly access the information they need, and that project documentation is protected from loss, damage, or unauthorized access.

Benefits of Quality Assurance in Construction Document Reviews

QA in construction document reviews goes a long way to ensure the project meets industry standards and the owner’s expectations by:

Ensuring compliance with regulations and standards

An effective and successful QA process fosters compliance with industry standards and rules and this helps reduce the risk of legal or regulatory issues – including environmental and sustainability standards.

Reducing the risk of errors and omissions

Effective document control and version control ensure that project documentation is accurate and up-to-date, reducing the risk of rework and change orders, which can help reduce project costs. This not only improves the overall quality of the project but also helps to reduce the risk of errors that could lead to safety issues.

Improving stakeholder communication and collaboration

A successful QA improves communication and collaboration among project stakeholders by ensuring that everyone has access to the same information and each stakeholder understands their roles and responsibilities. This leads to better decision-making, reduces the risk of misunderstandings, and improves project outcomes.

QA in construction document reviews - zipBoard
Collaborators with all construction document QA stakeholders with zipBoard

Providing a structured approach to document reviews

QA provides a structured approach to document reviews and this ensures consistency and standardization across all documents. This is important in large projects where multiple stakeholders are involved, and numerous documents need to be reviewed.

By providing a standardized approach, QA ensures that all documents are reviewed consistently and that nothing is missed.

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Facilitating efficient project management and decision-making

Quality assurance helps to identify potential risks and issues early in the project lifecycle, enabling project teams to take appropriate action to mitigate or eliminate these risks.

Consequently, this reduces the likelihood of project delays, cost overruns, and other issues, and facilitates efficient project management and decision-making.

How to Implement Quality Assurance in Project Documentation

Establish clear documentation standards and guidelines

Have clear documentation standards and guidelines that specify how project documentation should be created, reviewed, and approved. These standards should include details such as document format, naming conventions, and revision history.

Use an Inspection and Test Plan

An ITP is a quality assurance document – an inspection checklist – that includes specific tests and inspections that need to be performed during the construction document review process, as well as the criteria for acceptance or rejection of the work.

An inspection and test plan ensures that all items on the list are checked at the appropriate stages of the construction document review process.

The contractor usually prepares the ITP and the client or project owner reviews and approves it to ensure that all quality standards are met.

QA in construction document reviews
ITP sample (Source: qualityengineersguide.com)

Develop a QA review process

A streamlined QA review process in construction documentation ensures that the construction document review is accurate and complies with regulatory standards and project specifications.

A QA process should include clear roles and responsibilities for document design, review, and approval.

QA in construction document reviews
Design review and approval process (Source: ResearchGate)

Establish document version control procedures

Establish document version control procedures by tracking changes to documents, maintaining a version history, and controlling access to previous versions.

Document version control procedures ensure that project documentation is accurate and up-to-date and that all stakeholders have access to the latest version of each document.

views in zipBoard - AEC document reviews
Kanban board and list view - zipBoard

Use a QA review tool and document management software to streamline the process

A centralized QA review and document approval software integrated with document management software can help streamline QA in construction document reviews.

A QA document review and approval tool like zipBoard will enable reviewers to leave contextualized feedback on the documents under review using visual review and annotation tools.

This ensures clarity in the review process and prevents long email threads, setting up share screen calls, and using spreadsheets to manage QA reviews.

QA in construction document reviews - zipBoard
Giving contextualized feedback on construction documents - zipBoard

Moreso, document management software will help optimize your document storage and retrieval, making it easier for project stakeholders to access and share project documentation.

The good thing about zipBoard is that it integrates seamlessly with document management software, ERP systems – so you can review documents, ensure version control, and manage construction documents all in one place.

Streamline your AEC document review workflow with zipBoard
Annotate and comment on construction documents during QA reviews - zipBoard

QA Challenges in Construction Document Reviews

Difficulty in maintaining document version control

This occurs when multiple stakeholders create and update project documentation or when you use document management software that does not ensure version control.

Solution: Outline and document clear document control procedures. You can do this by defining roles and responsibilities for document design, review, and approval.

Additionally, use a centralized document review and approval software that can integrate seamlessly with your document management software. This will help the entire review team stay up to date on the latest document.

A typical example is zipBoard – a document review and approval software for AEC teams.

Time constraints on document review and approval

The QA process in construction document reviews can be time-consuming and you may miss project deadlines if you do not have a schedule.

For instance, on average, it can take about 28 days to review construction submittalsbut some people also take as long as 42 days. These may all depend on the type of project but you do not want to be the person missing deadlines.

Solution: Establish clear deadlines for document review and approval by creating a schedule for the construction document QA process.

 Note that the timelines for every construction project will differ depending on the scope of the project, so you cannot have one timeline for every construction project.

Also, use a  document review and approval tool (like zipBoard) and Autodesk Docs, as well as document management software (like PlanGrid or Bluebeam) to help streamline the review and approval process.

Difficulty in managing large volumes of project documentation

Construction projects generate a large volume of documentation, which can be challenging to manage and store effectively.

Solution: Invest in document management software like Procore, Bluebeam Revu, PlanGrid, Autodesk BIM 360, and zipBoard, as they provide a centralized location for all project documentation.

If your stakeholders are not familiar with this software, get in touch with the service providers to provide training or a personalized demo for your team.

What Next?

With a good understanding of the role of QA in construction document reviews and the appropriate steps and resources needed to ensure project quality, you’re now ready to plan, implement, and execute a QA process for your ongoing or upcoming construction document QA process.

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Author’s bio:

Dorcas Kpabitey is a Content Marketing Specialist at zipBoard. She began her content marketing journey alongside her BA in Political Science and Spanish at the University of Ghana. If she is not tapping away at her keyboard or spending time on Twitter and LinkedIn, she spends her day reading articles, newsletters and books.

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